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Sergio Marchionne, recent Fiat Chrysler CEO, dead at 66

One of the auto industry's most recognizable executives, Marchionne architected the turnaround of Fiat and Chrysler.

Chris Paukert Former executive editor / Cars
Following stints in TV news production and as a record company publicist, Chris spent most of his career in automotive publishing. Mentored by Automobile Magazine founder David E. Davis Jr., Paukert succeeded Davis as editor-in-chief of Winding Road, a pioneering e-mag, before serving as Autoblog's executive editor from 2008 to 2015. Chris is a Webby and Telly award-winning video producer and has served on the jury of the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards. He joined the CNET team in 2015, bringing a small cache of odd, underappreciated cars with him.
Chris Paukert
2 min read

Sergio Marchionne, the freewheeling turnaround artist who architected and brokered the revival of Fiat and Chrysler, has died. He was 66. EXOR NV, the holding company of Fiat's founding Agnelli family, confirmed the news in a brief statement.

It was only last Saturday where it was revealed that Marchionne had become incapacitated by medical issues and that he was stepping down from his CEOship of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ferrari and CNH Industrial.

The charismatic executive took the helm of serially embattled automaker Fiat in 2004, and was the driving force of the acquisition of then-bankrupt Detroit automaker Chrysler, which the Italian company announced in 2009 on the heels of the financial crisis. In 2013, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV was born.

On July 21, Marchionne was succeeded at FCA by Mike Manley, the head of Jeep and Ram brands. At Ferrari, John Elkann, son of Fiat's controlling Agnelli family, was named chairman of Ferrari, and Louis Carey Camilieri, a tobacco executive and Ferrari board member, was named chief executive. At CNH Industrial, Suzanne Heywood has been named chairperson, having previously been managing director of EXOR.

Sergio Marchionne
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Sergio Marchionne

Sergio Marchionne, the turnaround artist credited with saving Fiat and Chrysler.

Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg

Elkann, a longtime friend, noted in the EXOR announcement, "I believe that the best way to honor his memory is to build on the legacy he left us, continuing to develop the human values of responsibility and openness of which he was the most ardent champion."

Known for being perpetually clad in black sweaters and jeans -- even at tables full of besuited executives -- Marchionne had a direct, no-nonsense style, but was not without warmth or humor. He quickly established himself as one of the auto industry's best interviews because of his frankness, depth of knowledge and ability to deliver one liners.

Marchionne is survived by his partner, Manuela Battezzato, his estranged wife, Orlandina and his two children, Alessio and Tyler.