It’s a Big World, After All

In a briefing at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last week, Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.—which is the global company, not just Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US LLC—talked about succession planning, which is likely to be succession within a couple of years.

In a briefing at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last week, Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.—which is the global company, not just Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US LLC—talked about succession planning, which is likely to be succession within a couple of years.

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Marchionne underscored the breadth of the position by pointing out that it isn’t enough to be a “Detroit darling”—not, he noted, that that’s a bad thing to be—but that the same level of warm feelings has to exist in China, Brazil, Argentina, Europe. . . .

And he stated:

“The world is a big place. We forget that from here.”

And “here,” of course, being Detroit.

Detroit in this context is an example of synecdoche. The part standing for the whole.

Here Detroit is standing for the auto industry.

Even though people in the industry around here know that there are European and Asian OEMs and that cars that trucks that might otherwise seem to be “Made in U.S.A.” are actually produced both north and south of the borders, there is, Marchionne seems to have been saying, still too great a tendency to think that the world revolves around Detroit.

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A Jeep Renegade. . .yes, in China

Although people would argue that the narrow-mindedness that knocked Detroit back on its collective heels some years back (“What do you mean that there are people driving Toyotas in great number? I don’t see any of them on Woodward, or at least not in the parking lot when I pulled in this morning.”) has been expanded greatly, there is still a risk that last year’s massive sales success could lead to a re-narrowing of focus.

Which no one can afford.