Fiat-Chrysler CEO Meets With Tesla’s Elon Musk, Apple’s Tim Cook


MAY 12 2015 BY JAY COLE 29

It appears that Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne might not be as opposed to electric vehicles as he once was, at least if a recent stop in California to meet with Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Apple’s Tim Cook is any indication.

Fiat Has Sold About 9,000 500e BEVs Since Its Debut In July of 2013

Fiat Has Sold About 9,000 500e BEVs Since Its Debut In July of 2013

Bloomberg reports that while at a new Maserati dealership near Toronto, Ontario, Mr. Marchionne disclosed that not only had he met with Elon Musk, but also Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook and took a ride in Google’s autonomous car.

As for what the Fiat boss had to say about his counter-part at Tesla:

“I’m incredibly impressed with what that kid has done.”

Just as a point of interest, Sergio Marchionne (62) took the reins of Fiat in 2004, and Chrysler in 2009.

For Elon Musk’s part (43), he founded  Zip2 (a web software company) in 1995, founded in 1999 which lead to Paypal in 2001, then founded/is CEO of SpaceX beginning in 2002, intiated/funded and is Chairman for SolarCity in 2006, and of course has been CEO of Tesla Motors since 2008.

Further details on the meeting between the two auto execs were scarce, but he added that his interactions with Apple’s Tim Cook also centered around that company’s focus on electric cars and how Apple can get into the automotive business.

“He’s (Cook) interested in Apple’s intervention in the car, that’s his role.”

The Chrysler 700c Concept Hints Toward Next Generation Town & Country Plug-In Minivan

The Chrysler 700c Concept Hints Toward Next Generation Town & Country Plug-In Minivan

So why the visits Sergio?

Perhaps Mr. Marchionne is coming around to an electric future?  Or maybe he is looking to offload/collaborate on a future product with some of the movers and shakers in the business?

Fiat announced last month that its Chrysler plant in Windsor, Ontario is currently tooling up for production of a PHEV Town & Country minivan that arrives in 2016.

Market Caps of companies mentioned in this story (as of 12/05/2015):  Apple (AAPL)  $727B , Tesla Motors (TSLA) $30.2B  , Fiat Chrysler (FCA) $14.3B


Categories: Apple, Chrysler, Fiat, Tesla

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29 Comments on "Fiat-Chrysler CEO Meets With Tesla’s Elon Musk, Apple’s Tim Cook"

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Maybe he’s trying to plant a seed to buy some batteries from the Gigafactory at a low cost.

Fiat is doing really bad financially, and Sergio is actively/desperately seeking to partner or merge with another company.

On a related note, Mazda is in talks with Toyota to expand their partnership to give Mazda access to Toyota’s fuel cell technology in exchange for Mazda’s fuel efficient SkyActive ICE fuel technology.

Or maybe they were in discussions if Apple or Tesla wants to acquire Fiat and/or Chrysler.

I wonder if it makes more sense for Tesla to build their own car industry from scratch or just buy existing car giant out from the markets?

There’s a _lot_ of deadwood from Tesla’s PoV if they buy Fiat.
What would they do with all the ICE-related design & production assets of not just Fiat, but Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Ferrari & Maserati?

Don’t forget that Fiat owns Chrysler (it’s now FCA – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) and all their subsidiaries.

Why do people refer to those a mere 20 years their junior as kids? It’s demeaning. Sorry a 43 year old man with 5 kids of his own is not a kid, and I am not kiddding.

I don’t know, I kinda took it as a compliment. He was impressed at what Musk has accomplished at his age.


I don’t think it’s demeaning at all. It was clearly meant as admiration and, if anything, heightened admiration for the fact that Musk is a relatively young mogul in the grand scheme of things.

Yeah I suppose you kids are right about that. It is not demeaning in the least to refer to someone as a kid. I stand corrected.

Oh Yeah? I’m gonna’ tell my Dad! 😉

I’m just amazed that a dinosaur would take the time to meet with the folks who are going to be eating his lunch in a few years. Sergio, partner now while you have the chance.

Nailed it.

age is relative. My grandma always called “girls” anybody younger than her.

He just need to add CCS to Fiat 500e and sell it worldwide for the same price or lower than the Nissan Leaf. It would be a success.

The same could be said about the Honda Fit EV, such a great car wasted, if only Honda was interested in selling EVs, it would do better than the Leaf…

Yes. They need to do that ASAP. They (more or less) promised it by saying that it was DC fast-charge ready.

Yeah, the Fit EV is a blast to drive in sport mode, and it has been quite a good workhorse for us these past two years. We will be taking advantage of the recently announced two year lease extension to hang on to this little gem for as long as possible.
BUT… the battery chemistry is totally unacceptable for the colder climate of New England. When the ambient temp drops below freezing, the range is reduced to a mere 30-40 miles on a “full” battery. For the months of January and February, our Fit EV becomes a “garage queen.” 😉

To complete the surprises Toyota could introduce a BEV Toyota Prius in the new generation coming next year. With the good drag coefficient it could easy achieve 100 mile EPA range with a standard battery.

I suspect something like this will happen, right now Toyota sees EVs taking market share from their hybrids, and Honda’s best thing is their engines. So they were slow to get into the game, but once 200mile BEVs become available they will have to react! Or die…

Wait . . . what?

Did he get a brain transplant or something?

I hope he was discussing buying EV battery packs from Tesla, along with access to the S
supercharger network.

It’s odd that no other car manufacturer to date has shown any interest in the supercharger network, it would be a huge advantage to have a fully operating charging network covering the USA, Europe and large parts of China already from the get-go when releasing an EV!

Good point. I fact, I suggest that one of the writers/editors should do a story on the problem of QC access for future longer range BEV’s. A 200 mile Bolt is a great concept, but unless GM provides a viable, extensive charging network(I don’t care under which format)it will not be nearly the improvement we are all hoping for. Meanwhile, if the Model III really comes to pass in 2017, and it has access to the SC network(even at some sort of cost structure)it will quickly prove to be king of EV’s.

I think all the companies have a severe NIH syndrome (Not-invented-here) that is preventing them from licensing access to the superchargers. But if I were running one of these companies, I’d swallow my pride and license access to the superchargers as long as Tesla provides reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. It is the best charging system out there. Use it.

It is the best out there indeed, but in the same time it can be perfected by going to an on the Floor connection system at higher voltage to be able to pump energy even faster and without human intervention. 10 to 15 minutes maximum should be the golden goal, which means 700 to 1000 KW instead of 135 KW.

I think it’s much worse than that. None of the auto manufacturer’s except Tesla think they should make a serious investment in charging themselves; this includes Nissan, BMW & VW, who are investing a lot in the cars.

It’s obvious to me public charging infrastructure is key for EV penetration, and not just for long trips. Where I live, and many places in the world outside the US, the vast majority of people live in apartments without dedicated parking spaces. EV ownership would require that most charging take be done via public DCQC.

One of the things that makes be take Tesla seriosuly is that they do recognize the importance of infrastructure, and are spending a lot of resources on it — and it’s not an easy thing for a startup to do.

Seems Sergio Marchionne is starting to recognize the value of modern electrification and connection technologies in creating a competitive product.

My take is – he is fishing for a partner to basically take most of the load in creating, developing and building Fiat/Chrysler’s future electrified cars.

He probably pitched Apple and Google a scheme from which he would provide manufacturing expertise while they provide the tech.

Chrysler is way behind in the electrification game. If they could pick up a partner with the weight of one of these – he would skyrocket himself right up at the top.

I’m sure Marchionne also is exploring a situation where Tesla could supply the electronics for future projects as well (namely, more compliance stuff).

My take – in 2 years his current compliance car is going to be a joke. He has no intention of investing in a major electification effort and wants a deal like the Rav4 got – batteries and drivetrain he can cram into an existing Fiat POS car.

Maybe he wanted to spec out what exactly Fiat would need to offer, to be a part of Tesla’s SuperCharging Network, and feel out what Apple is going to bring to the EV table, when they get around to it?

It must be pretty embarrassing when your company’s market cap is half that of that crazy upstart company that only makes those worthless electric cars. 😉