Marchionne's legacy

Type de publication:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Paris (2019)


The Marchionne’s Legacy

The paper will assess the standing of FCA and particularly of its Italian plants facing the profound changing of the international automotive industry, namely the shift of the centre of gravity of the market toward East Asia and the shift towards new mobility paradigm.

The first part will sketch the fundamental issues of the actual trend of change and the growing difficulties in all the international markets and the position and role of the European automobile value chain.

The second part will describe the trajectory of the rescuing of Fiat and the creation of FCA by Marchionne until his death. This period will be divided into two periods: 2004-2008, when the bankruptcy was avoided, and 2008 – 2018, starting with the global crisis. For each period there will be a description of the position and action by the main players: the owners – the “family”-, the manager, the government, the Trade Unions, and the Italian suppliers. The paper will stress the unwillingness of the family, after the death of Agnelli, to invests money on the same scale of Fiat, and later FCA, competitors. Marchionne was compelled to act under severe financial restrictions.  The overall goal for “the family” was delinking the risky business of mass car production from Exor, the family’s safe. Starting from this hypothesis, the FCA's main moves are more transparent. A specific focus will be on the financial situation after the death of Marchionne debunking the claim of a healthy situation.

On the other hand, the many Italian governments, along these two decades, didn’t afford to develop a strategic mobility perspective for Italy and the future of the car sector. Eventually, Trade Unions split apart on how to afford the challenging restructuring of FCA plants designed by Marchionne; they are still divided on what to do and on the coming new company’s agreement. It implies their low political relevance on the whole problem of the future of the Italian automotive sector. 

The third part will analytically evaluate the gap between the final industrial plan by Marchionne and the actual standing of the FCA group, both in industrial and financial terms. It will describe the last industrial plan and explain what happened issue-by-issue, first of all, the fact that FCA makes three-quarters of its profits in North America.

Eventually, the paper will assess the actual standing of FCA in this new difficult phase and the likely effects of the Italian suppliers in the framework of the changing market powers of the leading European OEMs. An important issue is the selling of Magneti Marelli and the likely outcome for COMAU.

The main risk is the dismemberment of FCA-Italy or the separation of relevant pieces such as those related to research and development, and "further confirmation of the intention to continue on the path of downsizing 'industrial activity'”. According to this scenario, there is a clear and present danger for the level of employment in this Italian sector, both at FCA plant and for the suppliers.




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