Ferrari names Fiat Chrysler chief Marchionne as CEO

Sergio Marchionne has been named CEO of Ferrari, while retaining his position as chairman, the super sports carmaker announced today.

The move came as Ferrari posted its best first-quarter earnings ever, a 19-percent increase in net profit to 78 million euros ($89.5 million). That compares with 65 million euros in the same period last year.

Marchionne, who is also CEO of mass-market carmaker Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, replaces long-time CEO Amedeo Felisa, who is retiring after 26 years at Ferrari.

The 69-year-old Felisa, who became Ferrari CEO in 2008 and formerly was head of product at Alfa Romeo, will retain a Ferrari board seat.

Marchionne, 63, engineered the luxury carmaker’s spin off from mass carmaker Fiat Chrysler after longtime chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo stepped down over differences in strategy.

The CEO plans to position Ferrari as a luxury goods maker beyond cars. Ferrari said in the earnings release that the first Ferrari branded goods are expected to be available in 2017, Ferrari’s 70th anniversary.

Ferrari this quarter signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding to build a new Ferrari theme park in China, the location of which is still to be decided. It already operates a theme park in Abu Dhabi and is soon to open another in Barcelona.

The carmaker, based in the northern Italian city of Maranello, said shipments for the three months ending March 31 grew 15 percent to 1,882. Ferrari limits production to safeguard exclusivity but Marchionne has said that numbers could nudge up to 9,000 units annually by 2019, from more recent levels above 7,000.

Deliveries rose 24 percent in Europe, its strongest region, to 950 units and just 2 percent in the Americas to 523 units.