Fiat Chairman John Elkann has been turning to an unusual source for advice on the car business. While speaking during an interview with The Detroit News, Elkann said he often asks Bill Ford Jr. for advice on how to proceed with the turnaround at Chrysler. “It’s great to have the opportunity to share this with someone like Bill, who has experienced many things and gone through many things … especially linked to Detroit.” Elkann said.
As the Agnelli family heir, Elkann has inherited a long and fruitful friendship with the Ford family. While Giovanni Agnelli built his first Fiat four years before Henry Ford created his first vehicle, it was Ford that showed Agnelli the benefits of mass production and helped pave the way for what would become the Fiat empire.
Giovanni’s grandson, Gianni, helped mentor Bill Ford when he was elected chairman of Ford Motor Company. Now, Ford is returning the favor by helping Elkann navigate the automotive industry’s tumultuous waters.
“I have a lot of admiration for how Bill handled things,” Elkann said. “He’s been very candid and I’m very curious by nature, so being able to listen to real-life experience … is very valuable.”