WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. – Sergio Marchionne burst onto the automotive scene during the industry downturn in 2008. Since then, he's etched his name into the industry's history.
But news of Marchionne's declining health forced Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to accelerate their succession plan and replace him six months early.
Marchionne's health problems sent FCA and Ferrari stock tumbling Monday. It also led to the FCA European CEO stepping down, unhappy that he was passed over for the big chair.
Marchionne's last public appearance as CEO in Metro Detroit came in May when FCA opened the updated Cauley Ferrari. He spoke of Jeff Cauley, who serviced Marchionne's five local Ferraris.
"We're delighted for Jeff to take this next step because he truly embodies the Ferrari spirit of 'more than yesterday and less than tomorrow,'" Marchionne said.
Marchionne signed the Ferrari champagne bottle that night, and it's still sitting in the dealership.
Auto analyst John McElroy told Local 4 that Marchionne's towering accomplishments will long be remembered.
"He took Fiat with $7 billion market in capitalization when he took it over and look, today, FCA and Ferrari combined are worth over $70 billion," McElroy said.
Sam Kasab of the Chene Trombly Market lives just a few houses away from Marchionne in Commerce Township. He said he's sad about Marchionne's failing health but happy for the memories.
"We always talked about wine and cigars," Kasab said.
Marchionne has two dozen executives reporting to him, while most auto executives have three or four. He managed it by using four cellphones: one each for Europe, North America, South America and Asia.