It is nearly five years since Sergio Marchionne, the boss of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), delivered his legendary manifesto “Confessions of a Capital Junkie” to investors. The industry titan, who died suddenly in 2018, was famed not only for turning around struggling marques but his nose for a deal.

His presentation set out a bleak future, however. Marchionne called it a “dispassionate look at the industry from the outside using insider knowledge” that demanded a choice between “mediocrity or fundamentally changing the industry paradigm”.

Carmakers were ploughing too much capital into R&D, according to the FCA boss. Spurred on by emissions controls, the prospect of electric vehicles, tough...

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