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别了“修车”圣手,菲亚特克莱斯勒帝国再生之父辞世

ANDREW NUSCA 2018年07月31日

无论如何,马尔乔内成功实现了前任高管们很难达到的目标:修复菲亚特。

汽车业很久以前流传着一个笑话,讲的是菲亚特汽车开不了多久就要送修。为什么呢?因为如果把菲亚特的英文名Fiat拆开,可以用每个字母开头的单词组成一句话:“再修一次,托尼。”(Fix It Again, Tony.)这个笑话在英语国家消费者中流传甚广,后来菲亚特2011年收购破产的美国老牌车企克莱斯勒重新打入美国市场,2014年干脆在一条电视广告中用这个笑话当梗。广告片里,意大利机械修理师用菲亚特500X代替出故障的本田思域,满面笑容地告诉疑惑的思域车主:“修好了。”

上周三,修好了菲亚特的汽车业“圣手”塞尔吉奥·马尔乔内永远地离开了,享年66岁。他走得很突然,肩部手术的并发症导致身体状况急转直下。15年来,这位出生在意大利阿布鲁佐大区的高管总是以松垮的黑色运动衫装束示人,他带领菲亚特挺过了全球市场的大风大浪,从倒闭边缘起死回生。而就在他安排接班人时健康状况出现致命恶化,显得有点讽刺。(菲亚特克莱斯勒的吉普品牌Jeep的英国负责人麦明恺被任命为新任首席执行官。他在公布公司季度财报的电话会议上表示:“现在是非常令人难过,也非常艰难的时期。”)

不过,马尔乔内对类似讽刺的局面并不陌生。2004年他晋升为菲亚特首席执行官时,公司总裁翁贝托·阿涅利刚刚去世,翁贝托是菲亚特创始者阿涅利家族的后代。套用《纽约时报》当时报道中的描述,阿涅利家族采取了“一系列戏剧性的操作”,挑中了时任菲亚特旗下测试服务SGS首席执行官的马尔乔内,领导堪称都灵王冠明珠的企业。为了让昔日一流汽车制造商重现辉煌的重任,马尔乔内将菲亚特从与通用汽车成立的合资公司中剥离,牢牢掌握住克莱斯勒的资产。他还从卡车制造商CNH Industrial和经典超级跑车法拉利等企业剥离出菲亚特部分资产,将所得资金投入一些新平台,巩固广受好评的阿尔法·罗密欧旗下Giulia等车型的实力。

马尔乔内身后是几乎没有净负债的菲亚特克莱斯勒,还有电动汽车和自动驾驶技术方面的五年计划。而且菲亚特的盈利潜力强劲,部分原因是直接为买家提供购车融资。不过,该公司还没有完全走出困境。汽车业正在经历天翻地覆的变化,菲亚特的劲敌通用汽车和福特都在积极收缩投资组合,集中在盈利丰厚的运动型多用途汽车(SUV)。菲亚特克莱斯勒坐拥两大品牌Jeep和Ram,竞争优势明显,但也要适应环境做出调整。此外,现任美国总统已明确表示支持美国造汽车(及其他一切美国产品)。

无论如何,马尔乔内成功实现了前任高管们很难达到的目标:修复菲亚特。2014年与马尔乔内一同接受采访时,菲亚特创始人乔瓦尼·阿涅利的曾曾孙、菲亚特董事长约翰·埃尔坎恩这样评价他:“他是个缔造者,既是修理大师也是创造者。”(财富中文网)

译者:Pessy

审校:夏林

 

There’s an old joke in the automotive industry that a Fiat won’t run for very long before needing repair. Fiat? You mean “Fix It Again, Tony.” The punchline for the Italian automaker, which reentered the U.S. market in 2011 following its acquisition of a bankrupt Chrysler, has been so persistent among English-language speakers that the company turned around and embraced it in a 2014 television ad. In the spot, Italian mechanics fix a broken down Honda Civic by replacing it with a Fiat 500X. “We fix it,” they tell the Civic’s bewildered owner, beaming.

On last Wednesday, the man who fixed Fiat, Sergio Marchionne, died at age 66. His death was sudden—a surprising turn of events following complications from shoulder surgery. For 15 years, the Abbruzzese executive, clad in his signature slouchy black sweater, had stood up in defiance of global market forces that seemed almost certain to put the Italian industrial giant to bed. That his health were to take a fatal turn as he was arranging for his replacement to take the helm seems too ironic. (Mike Manley, the British head of Fiat Chrysler’s Jeep brand, has been named Marchionne’s successor. “This is a very sad and difficult time,” he said during a conference call announcing the company’s quarterly results.)

But Marchionne delighted in irony. His ascendance to Fiat’s top job in 2004 happened only after the death of chairman Umberto Agnelli, one of the heirs to the dynasty of Fiat’s founding Agnelli family, setting in motion “a series of dramatic weekend maneuvers,” as the New York Times aptly described it at the time, that put Marchionne—then the CEO of its testing services unit SGS—in control of Turin’s crown jewel. Tasked with turning around what was once Europe’s leading automaker, Marchionne extracted the carmaker from a joint venture with General Motors, took control of Chrysler’s assets, and spun off parts of Fiat—from tractor maker CNH Industrial to supercar icon Ferrari—to give it the cash to invest in new platforms that underpin well-received models such as the Alfa Romeo Giulia.

Marchionne leaves behind a Fiat Chrysler with nearly no net debt and a five-year plan studded with electric cars, autonomous driving technology, and ample profit potential, in part by offering vehicle financing directly to buyers. But the automaker is hardly out of the woods. Another sea change is afoot in the auto industry, and rivals General Motors and Ford are aggressively slimming down their portfolios to focus on profitable SUVs. With Jeep and Ram, Fiat Chrysler is well positioned, but it too must adjust. Meanwhile, the sitting U.S. president has made his preference for American-made cars (and everything else) clear.

But Marchionne managed to do what few executives did before him: fix Fiat. “He’s a builder, too,” chairman John Elkann, great-great-grandson of Fiat founder Giovanni Agnelli, said of the late CEO in a joint interview with him in 2014. “A fixer and a builder.”

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