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Marchionne had planned on retiring as CEO of Fiat Chrysler at the end of the year.

Marchionne, credited with turning around the fortunes of Italian automaker Fiat and the No.3 US automaker Chrysler, as well as forging the merger of the two companies in 2009, was stricken during recent surgery and was left unable to continue at the helm of FCA.

The executive would be the man behind Fiat aquiring Chrysler in 2009 to form Fiat Chyrsler Automobiles and began to turn around the two automakers. He was 66. Just days ago, he stepped down from his role leading one of the world's largest auto companies due to health problems. FCA board has made a decision to appoint Jeep and Ram head Mike Manley as its new CEO.

Manley, a former executive with Jeep, was tapped to take over the top spot at FCA during an emergency session of the company's board.

The company has portrayed Manley's appointment as the product of lengthy deliberation.

Elkann's office declined to comment.

This description diverges from what Marchionne himself told investors on June 1 during a day-long strategy presentation in Balocco, Italy.

Some experts have cast doubt on the ability of Marchionne's successors to maintain the momentum he had built up over the years.

FCA said it has fixed-price contracts for most raw steel through 2018, but would see increases in 2019 at current prices. "So it's not going to happen until we close '18".

"Our thoughts are with Sergio Marchionne's family and friends, as well as the entire Fiat Chrysler team", GM CEO Mary Barra said at the beginning of a conference call with analysts after the company reported its second-quarter earnings Wednesday.

"It is very sad and hard time". By the end of 2005, the company was back to earning a profit through laying off workers, the introduction of new auto models, slashing the time to bring a new vehicle to market from 4 years to less than two, and wringing $2 billion from an alliance with GM. Former centre-left premier Paolo Gentiloni said "thanks for the work, the hard work, the results".

"For Altavilla it was too important - he wants to be CEO at least once in his career", one of the sources said.

Entering hospital for the operation only a few weeks ago, the manufacturer confirmed that his condition had deteriorated amid reports of an embolism placing him in a coma, with new figures brought to head the various sectors Marchionne was in charge of.

Elkann originally hired Marchionne in 2003 to serve as a boardmember and then CEO of Fiat, which at the time had just lost $7 billion.

Marchionne was known for turning around the Fiat brand when he joined as CEO in June 2004.

Marchionne built the dysfunctional companies into the world's seventh-largest automaker, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, nearly by personal force of will, living on a corporate jet crossing the Atlantic to push employees to accomplish what most people thought was impossible amid a devastating global recession. That ultimate deal eluded him. He helped multiple companies (Fiat Chrysler, Ferrari, CNH Industrial) tap the public markets, creating thousands of jobs across the globe.