In trademark black sweater and pants, Marchionne announces a federal loan had been repaid in this file photo from last May

In trademark black sweater and pants, Marchionne announces a federal loan had been repaid in this file photo from last May

While the Japanese companies introduced just-in-time to the auto industry, it’s Sergio Marchionne of Fiat and Chrysler who is taking the concept to a new extreme well beyond the assembly line.

“It takes me exactly a minute and a half to get dressed in the morning,” Marchionne said in Toronto this week, as part of an answer to a question about the two-tier wage structure among Chrysler’s unionised US workers.

“We have to be careful in life,” the Italian-born, Canadian-raised chief executive officer of Chrysler declared.

“I made a decision to start wearing black sweaters and pants a long time ago because I had to make a choice between spending three seconds deciding whether I should wear a blue one or a black one and I don’t want to spend the three seconds. It’s an allocation of time and resources.”

The result, he said, is “simplicity, almost to the point of being monastic” although there aren’t many monks who spend as much time as Marchionne does on airplanes criss-crossing the Atlantic Ocean trying to knit together Fiat Auto Group and Chrysler, the company that came under Fiat’s management control when it emerged from chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2010.

“I have the same clothing everywhere I live, in a bloody airplane, here, in Italy, in Switzerland, it doesn’t matter.”