FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne: A genial automotive manager has passed away…

 

He was born in Chieti, on the Italian Adriatic coast, as the son of a carabiniere or state police officer, on June 17, 1952. His father was a wise man, with a keen sense of money and savings, and he had invested enough to retire early. He decided to give his family a bright future in Canada. When young Sergio was 14, they moved across the ocean to Toronto.

His studies gave him a broad view…

Sergio Marchionne, the CEO of FCA, was not altogether a pure “auto” person, rather on the contrary. This prepared him to become an outstanding manager. Just look at what he studied. He started at the University of Toronto with philosophy, earned himself a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Windsor, in Ontario, and finally obtained a law degree in 1983 at the Osgoode Hall of York University. He began his career as … a tax specialist.

Luca De Meo, CEO Fiat Automobiles, and Sergio Marchionne, then CEO Fiat Group Automobiles, with the Fiat 500 (2007)

Broad business experience made him an ideal crisis manager…

This keen sense for numbers and figures made him the ideal manager to work out successful turnarounds and save companies from the brink. He moved to a metals trading firm and was also very successful in a trade services company. A broad experience in trading and business together with an excellent mastery of English, French and Italian gave him many possibilities, and having forged himself an enviable reputation of a crisis manager, he was spotted by the Agnelli family, seen as the right person on the right place to save the ailing Fiat company. The fact that he had a broad non-automotive experience was rather seen as an asset. He was appointed CEO of Fiat in 2004, and started with the necessary reforms to lighten the debt burden as soon as possible. He knew soon enough about the existing deal between G.M. and Fiat, and first tried to force G.M. into purchasing Fiat. General Motors had other plans, so Marchionne obtained 2 billion USD in compensation from G.M. to allow them to step out of the alliance. Money he put to good use to rejuvenate the model range, with the 500 being the all-time star.

Mike Manley and Sergio Marchionne with the new Jeep Renegade (09/2014)

A second success with Chrysler/Jeep…

Marchionne knew that automakers with global ambitions also need to have a solid base in the US market, and amidst the 2008 crisis he made clear to the US Treasury that he would be prepared to take control of Chrysler and revive it using the excellent state of the art Fiat group technology he had at his disposal.

He also knew very well that the Chrysler creditors and unions were putting hard pressure on the US Treasury, so he decided to up the ante to the beleaguered US government to ask them to hand over Chrysler to him… for free.

He succeeded, and the good results are known to everybody. Especially the dramatic turnaround of Jeep made the FCA Group now a profitable giant.

He was planning to retire in 2019, but fate has decided otherwise, as a result of unexpected complications after a shoulder surgery on July 5.

Fate has it too that his last official public appearance on last June 26, was to hand over in Rome at a ceremony in the grounds of the Carabinieri High Command, in the presence of Commander-in-Chief Giovanni Nistri, the liveried Jeep Wrangler.(see the accompanying photo).

He is succeeded by Mike Manley, (see photo above),  the head of Fiat Chrysler’s North America operations and its Jeep and Ram truck brands.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

 

The genius who designed the D Type Auto Union: Robert Eberan von Eberhorst

We treat you this time, dear reader, on a following story about famous men who changed motorsport and/or made such an important contribution to the development of the automobile, that the automotive world has never been the same again since then. Such a man was the Austrian nobleman Robert Eberan von Eberhorst. He made his mark as a formidable engineer not only before WW2, but also throughout the war and also in the fifties, and one of his post-war creations, the Aston Martin DB3 sports racing car, is still raced in historic sporting events, right until this day…

But there is so much more, just read on!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “The genius who designed the D Type Auto Union: Robert Eberan von Eberhorst”

Ettore Bugatti and his son Jean: two creators of a legend…

Having drawn the magnificent Bugatti engines, one is of course also fascinated by its creators. So I decided to make some detailed and realistic pen drawings of father and son – Ettore and Jean – on important occasions. The young Jean sits next to his father in 1924 at the Lyon Grand Prix, in a type 35. His father is then 43, and Jean is 15…

Ettore Bugatti was to shape automotive history forever – with his formidable artistic and technical genius. He was born on 15 September 1881 in Milan, into a very artistic family. His father was an important Art Nouveau furniture and jewelry designer, his brother Rembrandt Bugatti a sculptor, his grandfather an architect and sculptor.

Ettore turned his interest to cars. In 1909, his son Jean was born, and in that same year Bugatti established his legendary automobile company, Automobiles E. Bugatti, in 1909 in the then German town of Molsheim in the Alsace region. He had married Barbara Maria Giuseppina Mascherpa. Besides Jean, the marriage produced two daughters, L’Ébé in 1903 and Lidia in 1907, and another son, Roland in 1922.

Of course, son Jean was soon to follow in his father’s footsteps. Jean designed in de mould and tradition set by his father the Bugatti’s Type 50 and 51 and the stunning Bugatti 57, with their beautiful twin cam engines. When Jean reached the age of 27, Ettore retires, and leaves the factory and its management to Jean. Unfortunately, the kind and genial Jean kills himself on 11 august 1939 behind the wheel of the 57C which had just won Le Mans,  running at more than 200 km/h against a platan on a country road in Duppingheim.

 

I drew this charming and very elegant man here when he was 23.

Since then, things went downhill for Ettore and the famous brand. World War II ruined his factory in Molsheim, and his wife Barbara died in 1944. But Ettore Bugatti remarried in 1946, to Geneviève Marguerite Delcuze. This union and marriage had produced already a daughter, Thérèse in 1942 and later a son, Michel in 1945.

Ettore was also a lover of horses and yachts. He had bought a magnificent one after the war, but contracted the flu while visiting it at the wharf.  Having contracted pneumonia, he subsequently went into a deep coma. He was almost certainly unaware of the court decision whereby his property in Alsace, which had been confiscated by the state as retribution caused by his Italian origins, were restored to him on 20 June 1947: Ettore Bugatti died just over two months later, on 21 August without having recovered consciousness.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

 

 

The new BMW Belux Group president is Eddy Haesendonck

Peter Henrich, President and CEO of BMW Group Belux since January 1st 2017 is now with immediate effect Senior Vice-President Product Management at BMW.

The management of BMW AG has appointed Eddy Haesendonck (47) – see photo above – as his successor. He was from 2015 until now Commercial Director at BMW Belux. After his marketing studies he started at BMW Belux in 1997 as responsible for Aftersales of BMW Motorrad Belux. In that period, he launched the very successful BMW Boxer Cup.

In 2002 he was appointed commercial director of MINI Belux, and became regional manager between 2009 and 2012. Eddy Haesendonck then became responsible for MINI in the Asian, South Pacific, South-Africa and import markets for Africa, Caribic, Eastern Europe, Asia and Pacific.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

 

Masters of the automobile: Roberto Giolito

aaIMG_1740s

We met Roberto Giolito at the presentation of FCA Heritage at the Rétromobile Show in Paris lately. You can read our report about this presentation and the FCA heritage activities in these columns. Here we focus on the man behind it all, who started in high school as a jazz bass player…and brush him here a short portrait.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Continue reading “Masters of the automobile: Roberto Giolito”

We spoke with Peter Quintus, Sales Manager BMW M GmbH: “we embody a unique driving philosophy”

These are great times for BMW “M” : the BMW M5 has been voted “World Performance Car 2018”, making this the seventh time BMW has received a World Car Award from the organisation “World Car of the Year”.

aIMG_0943s

A good occasion to publish here the interview we had with Peter Quintus (on the left of the photo, and with Peter Henrich, CEO of BMW Group Belux) on the Brussels Car Show early this year…just read further!

Hans Knol ten Bensel Continue reading “We spoke with Peter Quintus, Sales Manager BMW M GmbH: “we embody a unique driving philosophy””