Not just since Luca di Montezemolo’s dismissal have arguments about the merits and demerits of FCA CEO, Sergio Marchionne’s style of conducting business been rather heated. And now we are being presented with a particularly poignant case in point.
Signore Marchionne undoubtedly knows his stuff when it comes to numbers and figures like few others in the business. Which is why nobody was surprised when he – somewhat proudly, it has to be said – explained that the series production Alfa Romeo 4C’s extremely ungainly headlights were his very own responsibility, as their decidedly cheap appearance helped lowering production costs by a few millions. Car buyers, he seemed to believe, don’t really care about details, even particularly blatant ones.
This was the most obvious proof yet that, following the Marchionne Principle, aesthetics must not come in the way of cost trimming. Hardly an enlightening revelation, but still quite a tangible symbol for the great sweater enthusiast’s ethos.
But irony, along with a few other things, is a dish best served cold. So, with some time having passed since the production 4C’s unveiling, we are treated to a particularly icy serving, as Marchionne’s Super Saver Lamp Units have all but disappeared from any 4C that has been lent to car journalists all over the globe recently.
Yes, the new headlights may be catering only to the US market, they may even be an expensive option that seemingly adds to Fiat’s bottom line. But that doesn’t distract from the fact that they will be an expensive amendment to the car’s production process, no matter how small scale it might be.
Marchionne’s lack of understanding of the market has, in fact, cost his company at least as much as he intended to save it in the first place. His penny-pinching ways have come to haunt him in particularly public style.
These two sets of headlights are now standing for Marchionne ad absurdum. Ferrari engineers and stylists better take note.