Normally a story on how one auto company plans on turning around another post a merger would not be head turning in the current environment where all auto companies, especially US ones, seem to be driving in only one direction. But Time magazine's story on how the CEO of Fiat, Sergio Marchionne, plans on making it's investment in Chrysler a success, caught my eye with this bit:
"Since he took over as chief executive of Italy's Fiat in 2004, the chain-smoking Canadian Italian has used Apple as a model, focusing on the way Steve Jobs transformed it from an also-ran computer company into a global icon of cool.
He encourages Fiat managers to take a close look at Apple's branding prowess and even asks them to benchmark their activities against the company.
His biggest success at Fiat is the 500 — a tiny, very cool 21st century version of a 52-year-old Italian icon once driven by movie stars such as Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren — which Marchionne calls "our iPod."
Apparently, Mr. Marchionne intends on using a similar playbook at Chrysler, where his company starts with a 20% stake, that could go as high as 35% depending on how the turnaround goes:
"Marchionne is likely to hew closely to the playbook he used to revive Fiat. On June 10, the day Fiat sealed the deal, he announced a thorough organizational revamp. From now on, each of the four individual brands — Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Mopar (which makes parts) — will be distinct business units responsible for profit and loss. He also reached deep into the ranks, bypassing the engineers and putting a younger, energetic generation of managers with marketing experience in charge of the brands. "That's a mirror image of what he did at Fiat," says a longtime Fiat executive. Next up: installing Fiat production platforms at Chrysler plants and using Fiat's sales network to sell Jeeps and other Chrysler models around the world."
Who knows, Mr. Marchionne may even come up with a way to make a car dealership as fun to go to as an Apple store.