According to the news report by Bloomberg, the success of auto-company Fiat Chrysler is now dependent on the Jeep. Which is why the head of the Jeep and Ram brands, Mike Manly, the 54 year old Englishman, was chosen to replace Sergio Marchionne as Chief Executive Officer of the company.
Marchionne, an icon in the auto industry, was forced to step down due to complications after a surgery which led to a sudden deterioration of his health. The company’s board convened for an emergency meeting on Saturday after which they announced that Manly would now succeed Marchionne as the new CEO of the automotive company.
The 66-year-old Italian Canadian had been the backbone of this company for the last 14 years, leading it since 2004. Marchionne is the one who led the merger with the bankrupt American company Chrysler. He is also the reason why the company was able to make such a strong turnaround. Marchionne also held multiple positions, making him invaluable to the company. Not only was he the CEO, he was also the CEO and Chairman of Ferrari.
The stalwart had already announced that he would be stepping down from his leadership role in 2019, so it wasn’t as if the board was completely unprepared about Marchionne’s succession. However, after the emergency meeting held this weekend, the board declared that the new CEO would start in his role immediately. This just served to highlight how serious Marchionne’s condition is.
Ferrari also announced that Louis Camilleri, a veteran of tobacco giant Philip Morris International, would replace Marchionne as their CEO.
Manly is one of the people who was closest to Marchionne and collaborated with him in turning Fiat Chrysler around. He joined Chrysler in 2000 in the UK, when the auto maker was a part of German Daimler. Then, after Fiat merged with the failing company, he took over the Jeep and Ram brands for the company.
Since 2009, Manly has grown the business to the point that these two brands contributed to 67% of the total sales for Fiat Chrysler in the US in 2017. In fact, analysts estimate that the Jeep brand itself would be worth the total market value of the entire company, which is $30 billion.
Despite all the work that Marchionne has done to set the company on the track to success, Manly will have his work cut out for him. He will need to ensure the continued growth of the Jeep and Ram brands, especially in China. He will also have to boost sales for the company’s luxury brands Alfa Romeo and Ferrari.
The biggest challenge that the new CEO will have will be to complete the 5-year plan put in place by Marchionne, the most important part of which is to double Jeep sales by 2022 from the current 1.4 million per year. Just for this year alone, Manly will need to increase sales of that brand by 40% to meet the 2018 target set by his mentor and predecessor.
By choosing Manly to take the helm, the board has now clearly indicated that they see the Jeep brand as being the flagship for the company and the key to the company’s future success.
According to David Kelleher, one of the company’s dealers based in Philadelphia and someone who has worked with Manly for the last 10 years as a member of the company’s American dealer council, Manly is very much the protégé of Marchionne. A serious, driven man who inspires intense loyalty among his staff and is a very capable replacement for the icon.