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马尔乔内:菲亚特的“修理工”

Andrew Nusca 2018年08月21日

马尔乔内成功做到了他之前的CEO没做到的事:修好了菲亚特。

汽车界有个段子,说菲亚特开不了多久就得修。Fiat(菲亚特)?意思是“Fix It Again, Tony.”(托尼,你又要修车了。)意大利公司菲亚特收购破产的克莱斯勒后于2011年重返美国市场,结果因为这个段子在英语世界经久不衰,菲亚特顺势在2014年的电视广告了用上了。广告里意大利修理工面对一辆坏了的本田思域,把它换成了一辆菲亚特500X。“我们修好了”,他们告诉一脸迷茫的思域车主,开怀大笑。

修好了菲亚特的那个人——塞尔吉奥·马尔乔内却在不久前去世了,享年66岁。他的死十分突然,因为肩部手术的一系列并发症引发了致命病症,令人震惊。这位出生于意大利阿布鲁佐德的菲亚特CEO,穿着他标志性的宽松黑毛衣,奋起反抗差点让这个意大利工业巨头彻底沉睡的全球市场力量。而就在他安排人接班掌舵时,却遇上了致命的健康问题,实在过于讽刺。(菲亚特克莱斯勒吉普品牌的英国主管麦克·曼利被任命为马尔乔内的接班人。“现在是充满悲伤又困难重重的时期”,他在宣布公司本季度业绩的电话会上说。)

但马尔乔内喜欢讽刺。他2004年担任菲亚特掌门是在公司主席翁贝托·阿涅利去世不久后,翁贝托是菲亚特创始家族阿涅利王朝的其中一位继承人。当时就像《纽约时报》描述的那样,他的去世引发了“一系列戏剧性的周末操作”,从而把菲亚特检测机构SGS的CEO马尔乔内推上了宝座,掌管这颗都灵皇冠上的明珠。马尔乔内肩负着让欧洲汽车业前任龙头企业重塑辉煌的重任,他把汽车生产部门从和通用汽车的合资企业中独立出来,控制了克莱斯勒的资产,拆分了菲亚特的部分业务,既包括拖拉机生产商CNH工业,也包括顶级超跑法拉利,把资金投入新平台,为阿尔法、罗密欧、茱莉亚等畅销车型提供了有力支持。

马尔乔内撒手人寰,留下的菲亚特克莱斯勒却几乎没有净债务,有的是开发电动汽车、自动驾驶技术、向顾客直接提供购车筹资方案等具有丰富利润前景的五年计划。但它远不能高枕无忧。汽车业又要掀起一番巨变,通用、福特等公司已经在大幅收紧生产目录,将精力主要集中在利润高的SUV上。菲亚特克莱斯勒旗下拥有吉普和道奇,具有先天优势,但也必须做出调整。而且现任美国总统已经说得很明白,他想要美国车(和美国制造的一切)。

但马尔乔内成功做到了他之前的CEO没做到的事:修好了菲亚特。“他还是个建造师”,公司主席、菲亚特创始人乔瓦尼·阿涅利的玄孙约翰·埃尔坎恩2014年和马尔乔内共同接受采访时这样评价这位已故CEO。“既是修理工,又是建造师。”(财富中文网)

译者:Agatha

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 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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