Meeting Sergio Marchionne

Tony Healey


1. You have about [euro] 50,000 to spend on a car. Which one?
Dodge Charger SRT8.

2. What talent would you like to have?
Playing music. I'd love to be able to do that.

3. Where do you buy your clothes?
On the Internet, mostly. Except for leather goods, which I buy in incredibly expensive shops in Europe.

4. On June 17, you turn sixty. Which present would make you really angry?
A cake that says 60. I certainly don't want sixty candles! I don't want to see a six or a zero. I don't want to be reminded. I won't even be in the office that day.

5. What film would you have loved to star in?
You won't like the answer. Sophie's Choice. With Meryl Streep. She has to choose. I like that movie-triangle thing...

6. Somebody gives you [euro]2500 spending money. On what do you spend it?
Either movies or music. Or some type of audio equipment.

7. Name a person you'd rather never have met.
Some politicians -- who shall remain nameless.

8. What would you like to be reborn as?
A musical conductor.

9. Which drug are you addicted to?
Nicotine. (Lights his ninth Muratti Privat in seventy-five minutes)

10. You can time travel. Where to?
I would love to go back to the early 1900s and listen to one of Albert Einstein's lectures.

True or False

1. Chrysler should reinvent the minivan.
False. The owner of the minivan is Dodge. Chrysler needs a different type of vehicle in this segment.

2. Dodge should reinvent the muscle car.
False. No need to reinvent. What Dodge needs is the Charger and the Challenger in an evolved state.

3. SRT is the new home for high-performance Detroit iron from the Chrysler Group.
True. The Viper needs to be in that category, and the Grand Cherokee SRT8, and more. There is more to come from SRT!

4. Lancia should create affordable premium with a twist of italianita.
True. Except that italianita only works outside Italy. Sadly.

5. Alfa Romeo should push eco-friendly sportiness.
False.I'll give you eco-friendliness as an option. But Alfa's main mission is to be a premium sports car brand.

6. Ram should be tough and functional and very American.
True.Except that Ram is a funny brand because it caters [both] to the buyer who uses his vehicle as a tool and for the person who is more after the light-duty aspect. Guts and glory, that's what Ram is all about.

7. Jeep should fuse adventure and mobility.
True. As long as the product is trail rated. That almost killed the brand. In the future, everything Jeep makes will have at least one version that is trail rated.

8. Maserati stands for style, substance, and solidity.
Not Quite. Outstanding style with leading-edge performance is a better description.

9 Ferrari is cutting-edge, in every respect.
True. Very true.

On his own motivations:
SM: I don't do things for ego. My ego's not big enough to require that kind of feed.

On Alfa Romeo:
SM: Our best shot at bringing Alfa back is the U.S. It certainly has the DNA to be respectable. Whether it did everything in the past to be respectable or not is a question mark. It may have been a sinner. But I don't think it was a mortal sin.

On Ferdinand Piech:
SM: I think he's one of the all-time greats in the car industry. Do I like him as a human being? The answer is no.

On Jeep:
SM: The Liberty successor that you will see next year in Detroit is a Giulietta offspring. It's trail rated. I told you -- we're not as thick as we appear. It may take us a lot of catching up, but eventually we get it right. And by the way, that's the same architecture that's under the Dodge Dart. It's the same architecture that's going to host the Chrysler 200.

On electric mobility:
GK: At the Geneva show, it was all electric mobility. But everybody is shy about putting electric cars into production, except Nissan.
SM: You're not looking at a guy who's as scared as the rest of them. I'm not scared, I just won't do it. I just will not do it. I think we're smoking illegal materials if we think we're going to make those [profitably]. It just won't work.

On alliances:
GK: The one area where you could do with an alliance is Japan. So, Mitsubishi? Mazda? Honda? Suzuki?
SM: I have no interest in Mitsubishi. Mazda is potentially interesting. You would never do an omnibus solution with Honda; you would do development deals with them on particular things. But what I keep repeating every stupid time I get asked the question, "Who are you talking to?" The answer is, I'm talking to everybody. On this issue I am absolutely promiscuous.

More on Alfa:
SM: We need to reestablish the credibility of Alfa through cars. I need C- and D-segment [compact and mid-size] cars that will actually compete in their segments as being premium Italian sports cars. I haven't got a hope in hell of selling Alfa against BMW or Audi or any of the premium brands in the United States with something that is not truly Alfa. As you well know, there are limitations associated with front-wheel drive. Part of that has to do with front overhang. We will have to live with slightly longer overhangs, which we need to make up for in terms of performance and weight distribution, but we think we can get there. I'll tell you one thing: I understand that we've been threatening the world with an Alfa comeback now for a long time. So the car needs to be perfect. If it can't be perfect, it can't get launched. And if I can't build the perfect vehicle, I won't make it.

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