Young Chinese businesswomen are the driving force behind Maserati's fast-growing order book.
"Forty percent of our clients in China are very successful young businesswoman who love European craftsmanship and want to be chauffeured in their new Quattroportes," Maserati CEO Harald Wester told Automotive News Europe. By comparison, female buyers account for less than 5 percent of Maserati's sales in Europe and the United States.
The Fiat-controlled luxury car subsidiary has received more than 22,700 orders globally through the first nine months. That's a huge increase for a brand that had global sales of 6,288 cars in 2012. Boosting Maserati's global unit sales is crucial to Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne's plan to make Fiat's automotive division profitable again in Europe by 2016. Fiat lost 700 million euros ($928 million) last year in Europe.
Most expensive model
Maserati's hottest model this year is the new Quattroporte flagship, for which the automaker has almost 10,000 orders. The Quattroporte's top market is China, where the brand already has 4,000 contracts for its most expensive vehicle. A fully equipped, V-8-powered Quattroporte starts at 150,000 euros in Europe but costs the equivalent of 325,000 euros in China because of the country's import duty and luxury tax. The base variant of the car with a V-6 starts at 111,000 euros in Europe but costs the equivalent of 205,000s in China.
In China, Maserati buyers are also much younger than in the carmaker's other key markets. The average age in China is about 37 years old compared with 55 for Europe and the United States, Wester said.
With a volume of 2,640, the U.S. market was Maserati's largest in 2012, accounting for more than 40 percent of the brand's total sales, but China, No. 2 in 2012 with 950 units, is expected to narrow that lead in 2013. This year Maserati plans to deliver 6,500 cars to the United States and 5,000 cars to China. The United States is expected to maintain its No. 1 status for Maserati because of strong demand in the market for the Ghibli mid-sized sedan, for which order books in China did not open until September.