Maserati boss takes aim at German rivals
Parent Fiat to invest 1.2 billion euros to boost luxury brand’s global sales
NICE, France – Maserati’s boss says the carmaker’s new Quattroporte flagship has "nothing to envy" when compared with German premium rivals such as the Mercedes-Benz S class or BMW 7 series.
"We are now a true and strong alternative to everything out there," Maserati CEO Harald Wester said as a press launch for the Quattroporte here on Monday.
The sixth-generation Quattroporte will debut at the Detroit auto show on Jan. 14. The model goes on sales in Europe in February, in Asia a month later and in the United States starting in May or June.
Maserati completely re-engineered the Quattroporte, which is the first model in the automaker’s ambitious bid to increase global sales eightfold by 2015. The sixth-generation of the premium sedan also was lengthened by about 200mm to 5263mm to better compete against chauffeur-driven, long-wheelbase versions of German automakers’ flagships, which have a dominate position in the key Chinese market.
"This new Quattroporte is bigger, roomier and has almost 20 percent of more luggage space than the model it replaces, but it is also sportier and more environmentally friendly," Wester said.
Maserati says that the top-of-the-range Quattroporte's maximum speed of 307kph makes it the fastest sedan available today.
Fiat Group is investing more than 1.2 billion euros in its sports car subsidiary to try to increase sales to 50,000 vehicles a year by 2015. Maserati sold 6,159 sports cars globally last year and expects a similar volume in 2012.
Wester said Maserati remains confident it can reach its 2015 sales goal despite Europe’s car sales slump, which is forecast to continue in 2013 and beyond.
"I do not see Europe covering more than 15 percent of Maserati’s global sales in the years to come," Wester said.
The U.S. market is the company’s largest market, with about 45 percent of the brand’s total sales this year, followed by China with 15 percent. Europe accounted for 19 percent of Maserati’s sales from January to September.
The company hopes to sell about 80,000 units of the Quattroporte in a seven- to eight-year life cycle. The company built about 24,000 units of the current model, which had peak sales of 5,088 units in 2007. The new model is expected to have peak sales of 13,000 to 15,000 units in 2013.
Ferrari helps with engine
The new Quattroporte will offer a choice of two new twin-turbo, gasoline direct-injection engines, which were designed by Maserati in cooperation with Ferrari. The engines will be built at Ferrari’s Maranello complex, which underwent a 50 million euro upgrade to add the its sister brand’s powerplant.
A 3.0-liter V-6 delivering 410hp will be offered in rear-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive variants. The engine’s top speed is 284kph. The top-of-the-range Quattroporte will be powered by a 3.8-liter V-8 delivering 530hp. Offered only with rear-wheel-drive, the V-8 Quattroporte can go 0 to 100kph in 4.7 seconds and has a top speed of 307kph.
Both engines are coupled with ZF’s eight-speed automatic transmission.
Because of extensive use of aluminum in its body panels, the suspension and engines, the new car’s fuel consumption was reduced by about 25 percent to 11.9 liters per 100km from 15.7 liters per 100km for the model it replaces. Carbon dioxide emission was slashed to 278 gram per kilometer from 365g/km.
More model launches
Maserati plans to unveil a mid-sized four-door sedan called the Ghibli at either the Geneva auto show in March or at the Shanghai auto show in April. At about 5000mm long, the Ghibli will compete with sporty sedan offerings including the Audi A6 and BMW 5 series.
The Ghibli will go on sale in Europe this summer powered by either the same V-6 GDI engine offered in the new Quattroporte or a high-performance variant of supplier VM Motori’s 3.0-liter V-6 diesel.
The new Quattroporte and the Ghibli will be built in the outskirts of Turin in the so-called Officine Maserati Grugliasco plant, which Fiat bought three years ago from Carrozzeria Bertone.
A third model, the Levante, will be the company's first SUV. Previewed by the Kubang concept, this large SUV will be built at Fiat's Mirafiori plant in Turin using underpinnings shared with the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Production will begin in 2014.
Wester said Maserati has invested about 950 million euros in the new Quattroporte and Ghibli and has initially spent 250 million euros on the Levante.
The Quattroporte and Ghibli’s combined volume will be about 35,000 units a year at peak capacity. The Levante would account for another 20,000 units. The Maserati GranTurismo coupe and the GranCabrio convertible, whose production remains in Maserati’s headquarter in Modena, Italy, account for the remaining vehicles needed to reach an average 50,000 units a year.
You can reach Luca Ciferri at firstname.lastname@example.org.