Sergio told us there'd be days like this.
In his now legendary "Confessions of a Capital Junkie" presentation in 2015, the then-CEO of Fiat Chrysler warned that the industry was plowing too much of its capital in the quest for too-skimpy profits, wasting money on redundant technologies and shredding shareholder value in the process.
The risks, he argued, would only grow as manufacturers scrambled to meet emissions and safety regulations and keep pace in connectivity, electrification and autonomous technology.
The latest earnings reports from the Detroit 3 and others present a different narrative, but they convey a similar sense of alarm.
The industry has a good deal of underlying strength in terms of product and financial resources, far more than 10 years ago, when a credit crunch was enough to bring General Motors and Chrysler to their knees.
Yet the suddenly dire warnings about profits make clear how vulnerable automakers' margins remain to economic risk, global market trends, production challenges and political winds.
All the restructuring and rebuilding over the past decade, all the strategic investments and divestments, the financial re-engineering, the preening for Wall Street — what will they mean if automakers can't easily ride out a trade dispute or weather a rough patch in the Chinese market, if the progress they've made isn't sustainable?
Ford, renowned for skirting bankruptcy with its shrewd financial moves in 2007, now says it needs a global restructuring that could cost $11 billion over the next several years.
Eleven billion dollars!
The industry roundly dismissed Sergio Marchionne's warnings in 2015, principally because it smacked of self-interest, and because the medicine he prescribed — aggressive consolidation of auto companies — was too fraught to contemplate.
But in the aftermath of Marchionne's death, and in the context of these new dire profit forecasts, the industry may want to take another look at those charts and graphs, and the merits of his argument.