Friday, January 18, 2013

Fiat-Chrysler CEO Marchionne Uses Racial Slur for New Alfa Romeo Engine

Alfa Romeo’s return to the U.S. market, which is supposed to revive the historic Italian brand that’s currently on life support, has been announced more times than we can recall, only to be postponed time and time again.

In our 2013 NAIAS review we wrote that, compared to GM and Ford, not to mention foreign carmakers, the Fiat-Chrysler Group presence was underwhelming and we were wondering where Alfa Romeo was.

Apparently, others were thinking along the same line so they questioned the group’s CEO about it. Sergio Marchionne replied that he won’t be bringing the brand to the U.S. until the –long overdue- 159 mid-size sedan replacement, aka the Giulia, is perfect.

So far, so good; the problem is that, while there are many ways to say the exact same thing, Marchionne’s choice of words didn’t exactly sit well with his audience.

“I cannot come up with a schlock product, I just won’t. I won’t put an American engine into that car. With all due respect to my American friends, it needs to be a wop engine. There are some things that are well-done in Italy.”

Wop is a racial term used for people of Italian heritage that comes from the Italian word “guappo”, which means ruffian or pimp.

When the reporters displayed their evident shock of Marchionne’s use of this term, he turned to one of them and asked: “Why are you surprised?”

Marchionne, who isn’t so sensitive in using American engines in his group’s other brands (Lancia anyone?) is no stranger to using insulting language publicly. In February 2011, while referring to the 2009 bailout loan that Chrysler had received, he had said, “I want to repay the shyster loans”. The word comes from the German term "scheisser", which translates as “one who defecates”...

He apologized for his inappropriate remark the next day.

In the meantime, while in no way are we questioning the fact that there are some things done well in Italy, we’re still waiting for the outspoken Italian-Canadian CEO to make Alfa Romeo’s return to the U.S. finally happen.

By Andrew Tsaousis
Story References: Reuters
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