"Sergio Marchionne was one of the most respected leaders in the industry whose creativity and bold determination helped to restore Chrysler to financial health and grow Fiat Chrysler into a profitable global automaker".
His death was confirmed by Exor, the holding company of Italy's powerful Agnelli family, which founded the vehicle brand.
"Unfortunately, what we feared has come to pass. Sergio Marchionne, man and friend, is gone", it read.
While also the boss of Fiat Chrysler, the Italian enjoyed a hands-on running of the Ferrari Formula 1 team after entering the Scuderia in 2014 and was behind the introduction of Alfa Romeo's marque to the Sauber team after over 30 years out of the sport.
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Fiat Chrysler has said Manley will work to ensure a "strong and independent" future for the group.
By this year, Mr Marchionne had managed to wipe out the group's near-$13bn (£10bn) debt pile, something he described as a "healing" process for two companies that for so long were associated with failure. He built the dysfunctional companies into the world's seventh-largest automaker. He would stay there until being called upon in 2003 by Elkann to join Fiat.
Under the best of circumstances, Marchionne's pending departure presented Fiat Chrysler with a major void to fill.
Regarded as a saviour of Fiat, Italy's automotive champion, the Italian-born Marchionne set in motion the marriage between Fiat and bankrupt U.S. rival Chrysler just over a decade ago.
The Cgil union, Italy's most powerful, praised Marchionne for having "saved a dying company". Speaking strictly from a business standpoint, his sudden resignation won't shake FCA to its core because he planned to retire in April 2019 and had started preparing the company to continue without him. Born in Britain and based at the former Chrysler headquarters in suburban Detroit, Manley is expected by bankers and analysts at least initially to follow a five-year plan laid out by Marchionne and other executives in June.