The real explanation for the 2011 GC being AWOL at the NY Show may simply be that Fiat's CEO is not competent to lead an American vehicular heavyweight.
So far, Sr. Marchionne hasn't so much as kept in personal touch with most of Chrysler's main managers. This monarchial attitude may go over in Italy, but it is anathema in this country. Successful managers here, like Ford's Alan Mulally, are gregarious, up front and don't get lost in lofty airs.
But there's more. Traditionally, the main part of each annual dealers' convention is having the CEO speak in person to clue in and energize dealerships. But where was Sergio Marchionne this year? AWOL, without explanation. What a grand way to utterly demoralize your dealers!
And if that weren't enough, after arbitration was completed with restored dealerships last week, Chrysler handed the dealers an outrageous roster of terms (see here
). How do you say "flip off" in Italian?
So, Chrysler's management is being ignored, dealers are being shunned and insulted, and to that we can now add that the buying public isn't being treated much better (as mentioned earlier, see here
). Activists at JeepGarage are arguably the heart and soul of Jeep's buying public, and even here folks are beginning to lose patience.
Much has been made over the years about American multinational companies setting up shop overseas, then failing because they treated foreign markets as though they were 51st states. What we saw with Daimler was the same thing with the direction reversed, and it is beginning to appear that we're witnessing Round 2 of this mentality at Chrysler, thanks to Fiat.
Obviously, it is much too early to reach conclusions. But even if the Fiat-Chrysler marriage ultimately succeeds, as we all hope, there's no question that history will show it was in spite of Fiat's obstinate managerial bumbling during its first year.