These are the cars that helped save Fiat Chrysler.
The automotive industry is mourning the loss of Sergio Marchionne, who passed away yesterday after complications from surgery at the age of 66. Marchionne was CEO of Fiat since 2004 and was heralded as an industry maverick. He orchestrated a number of important moves for the Fiat brand, including the acquisition of Chrysler in 2014. Not only did Marchionne save Fiat, he saved Chrysler as well. We want to celebrate his accomplishments with a list of the 10 most important cars that he oversaw during his time as FCA's CEO.
The Alfa Romeo brand hadn't sold any cars in the US since the 1990s (unless you count the rarified 8C sports car). Marchionne helped bring the Alfa Romeo brand back to the US with the 4C - a lightweight, mid-engined sports car. The 4C wasn't a volume seller, but it did kickstart a major return to the US for the Italian brand.
Marchionne knew that a low-volume sports car couldn't revive the Alfa Romeo brand all on its own. That is why the 4C was followed up with the brilliant Giulia sedan. Alfa Romeo had the difficult task of dethroning the BMW 3 Series as the ultimate sports sedan, and it's easy to see how the Giulia could have been a colossal failure. Rather than take some existing FCA platform, Marchionne commissioned the creation of the Giorgio Platform, which should underpin many future FCA models for years to come.
It seems odd to include two of the man's biggest failures on this list, but the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart show how willing Marchionne was to admit his mistakes and learn from them. Marchionne realized that FCA wasn't profitable on its small sedans, so he decided to discontinue them shortly after their respective redesigns in order to focus on crossovers and SUVs. With the 200 and Dart dead, FCA turned its sights on building some of the most badass cars on the market today. Speaking of which...
No list of Marchionne's greatest achievements would be complete without the Dodge Hellcat and Demon. The original Challenger Hellcat rewrote the horsepower book with a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 producing 707 horsepower. The Challenger was soon joined by the Charger Hellcat sedan and, more recently, the drag-focused Demon. Dodge has just upped the power with a new Redeye version, which produces 797 hp. While other automakers focus on fuel efficiency, Dodge is busy building high-powered monsters.
As if stuffing 707 hp into a Dodge wasn't crazy enough, Marchionne oversaw the creation of the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk - the most powerful SUV on the market. We simply need to applaud Marchionne for his willingness to create a 707 hp Jeep, while other companies were busy focusing on tiny four-cylinder turbo engines.
Under Marchionne's tenure, Jeep became the strongest seller amongst the FCA brands. Jeep recently unveiled the latest JL generation Wrangler, which offers a ton of improvements while still staying true to the original Wrangler formula. A Wrangler pickup is also on the way, and it will likely be among the last new projects that Marchionne oversaw.
The once-proud Chrysler brand has been reduced to selling just two models. The 300 is aging fast, but Marchionne helped give the brand something to help keep it alive - one of the best minivans on the market. Minivans have lost popularity thanks to the rise of crossovers, but the Chrysler Pacifica and Pacifica Hybrid are some of the most well thought out and intuitively designed family haulers on sale today.
Marchionne was smart enough to sense that trucks and SUVs would help carry FCA into the future, which is why he spun off Ram into its own brand. The latest Ram trucks are among the most well-designed and luxurious in the segment. The all-new 2019 Ram 1500 even features a unique mild-hybrid system to help improve fuel economy.
The Fiat 500 is an extremely important car for two reasons. First, it helped revitalize Fiat as one of the most popular cars in Europe. Second, it acted as the first model to return to the US for the Fiat brand. We particularly love the 500 Abarth, which is one of the most fun-to-drive small cars on sale today.
Under Marchionne's leadership, Ferrari became an unquestioned success. Marchionne orchestrated an initial public offering of Ferrari, and the company has gone on to exceed investor expectations. The LaFerrari was the crowning achievement of Ferrari's success: a hybrid hypercar with a total output of 950 hp. Production was obviously very limited and second-hand prices have skyrocketed as a result.