At least four among the 20 stand out as potential successors to Marchionne, based on their success in the organization and their experience.
- Mike Manley, 46, has matched or exceeded Marchionne's brutal travel and work schedule over the last five years, while leading the Jeep brand to record global sales. He also has boosted Chrysler-Fiat's presence in the important Asia-Pacific region, for which he has responsibility.
- Alfredo Altavilla, 50, widely considered Marchionne's right-hand man at Fiat, is responsible for operations in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. He has been with Fiat since 1990 and has headed Fiat operations in several regions of the world and in different parts of the company.
- Reid Bigland, 46, has distinguished himself as head of U.S. and Canadian sales, with nearly four years of consecutive monthly sales gains in both countries. Bigland also seamlessly took over the reins of the highly profitable Ram brand in April when former Ram boss Fred Diaz went to Nissan. Bigland is a former CEO of Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp.
- Richard Palmer, 47, an Englishman who is CFO of both Chrysler and Fiat, understands Chrysler and Fiat's interdependent operations and finances. Palmer has been a CFO with Fiat or a subsidiary since 2003.
Marchionne has hedged on when he might step aside. At the 2012 Detroit auto show, he was unequivocal in an interview with Automotive News: "No earlier than 2013, no later than 2015."
Yet just a year later, that firm date seemed to slip.
"I could be here in 2016," Marchionne said in a January 2013 interview. "I'm not going to do anything else after this from an executive standpoint. I've had my fill of turnarounds. I've done more than most human beings should."
This year, at a meeting of Exor, the Agnelli family investment company that controls Fiat and Fiat Industrial, Chairman John Elkann said Marchionne would likely stay beyond 2015.
"Marchionne has spoken about 2015 as the date of his exit [from Fiat] because he thinks many things will have been completed by then," Elkann told the meeting. "But having spoken to him, I'm convinced that he will stay with us for many more years."