“Fiat Chrysler will sell six million vehicles by 2018.” These are the words of Sergio Marchionne at the last shareholders’ meeting held in Turin on Monday. The end of an era—well, that remains to be seen, was the comment made—not by Fiom—but by the objective, onlooker, Jennifer Clark, while speaking on her blog.
But how much is this prediction really worth given Marchionne’s decade-long, Fiat history of not keeping his promises? This is, of course with the exception of—so big that it overshadows all else—Fiat and Chrysler merging into one, world-renowned group.
And let’s not forget that little by-line of “Fabbrica Italia”. We’re still waiting to hear how that story’s going to end. Allow me to digress back to 2008, when Marchionne was secretly sniffing out the Chrysler deal, which shortly thereafter he was able to close with the decisive approval of the Obama Administration.
The manager, during an interview with Automotive News Europe, spoke up for the first time after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in September by making a prediction that the economic crisis would sweep away many important brands, leaving only six major automotive groups worldwide. This would be on the condition that these brands could manage to produce at least six million vehicles a year. Marchionne’s prediction—20 years ahead of time-was voiced in a way that would make the “Avvocato” proud.
However, as of November the 1st, 2011 (three years later), all of the major brands were still there—despite the economic crisis. And Marchionne, once again speaking to the same American weekly, doubled back when referring to the production numbers he had predicted would be necessary for survival: six million? Ok, but the most important thing is how many cars are built using the same structure. It’s just a matter of scale economics. As of today, Fiat Chrysler plans to produce 5.9 million units in 2014.
Just like all the other times, things don’t add up. In 2013 the group produced 4.4 million vehicles. The production goal for this year is 4.5 million. Meanwhile, the goal of the famous six million has been conveniently moved to 2018. This target, which translates to a more than 35 percent increase, seems within reach if for no other reason than the restarting of production in Italian plants. How and when? His famous, (flexible) 6th rule is always valid in these situations: Marchionne promised that he’ll fill us in on May the 6th from Detroit.