The Driven Interview: Chrysler President and CEO Olivier Francois
Recently, Chrysler held a big event in the San Francisco area showing of a slew of new and improved vehicles. Day one was spent with the Dodge folks, who showcased the new 2011 Charger and Durango. To say these are much improved is an understatement. The only problem they will have is getting shoppers to understand what they did take a look.
Day two was spent with the Chrysler side of things. At lunch I was fortunate to talk with President and CEO Olivier Francois. That’s just one of his hats, he also holds the same title at Lancia, a premium Fiat brand. If that’s not enough he’s responsible for the marketing of Chrysler, Dodge, Ram and Jeep. It gets better, he does the same for Fiat in Italy. Surprisingly, I did not see a Starbucks IV line in his arm.
This is a man who has more frequent flyer miles than he could probably ever use. His watch rotates so he knows the time in Michigan and Italy. He has two different cell phones, to remind him of which country he’s in. In his spare time he brought attention to the plight of the Myanmar dissident Daw Aung San Suu Kyi who was recently just released.
I assumed our talk would be the normal five minute chat that I would sprinkle into my upcoming piece featuring the Chrysler Town & Country and 200. The interview grew to 25 minutes. I can’t use it all in the review but thought Driven regulars might find the session interesting. I found him passionate, candid and enthusiastic about his many responsibilities.
The talk is trimmed for time and a few disruptions that happened during our chat but the 18 minutes should give you a good idea of how Mr.Francois sees Chrysler, and the plans he has for the brand. In the coming weeks I will have a story about the redone Town & Country.