Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne's relentless pitch for a merger of his company with General Motors seems audacious. He continues, despite GM's lack of interest, to extol the virtues of combining resources, promising extraordinary profitability.
But neither Marchionne's aggressiveness nor GM's reticence should be surprising.
For generations, both Fiat and Chrysler have survived on short rations. They've had narrow escapes and phoenixlike rises from the ashes. Both sides of the FCA house always have lived close to the edge. They learned to make the most of fewer resources than their competitors.
The Chrysler side always has been a scrapper, more recently weathering Daimler and Cerberus debacles before Fiat. Ninety years ago, Chrysler itself emerged from the wreckage of Maxwell, then bought the Dodge Brothers. It became a player that as late as 1949 sold more cars in the U.S. than Ford Motor. Even in 1987, Chrysler was able to buy American Motors to extract Jeep from the rubble.