FRANKFURT (Reuters) -- Maserati expects its 2015 sales to be in line with last year's and that it will hit a delivery target of 50,000 vehicles only next year after production of its Levante SUV was delayed to February.
Maserati shipped 36,448 vehicles in 2014 and originally planned to hit the 50,000 target in 2015.
Levanti sales will begin immediately after the Geneva auto show in March, the brand's CEO, Harald Wester, told journalists at the auto show in Frankfurt on Wednesday.
"The 50,000 sales target for 2016 also depends on how fast we can grow with the Levante, which for us represents the biggest commercial opportunity ever," he said.
The Levante is part of Maserati's future product pipeline, along with the sporty two-seater Alfieri and a new version of the GranTurismo sedan that will be added to the line-up over the next two years, are meant to help Maserati to reach a sales goal of 75,000 vehicles by 2018.
Maserati's range currently includes the four-door GranTurismo sedan, the two-door Quattroporte coupe and the compact, lower-priced Ghibli.
Along with Jeep, Maserati and Alfa Romeo are a central part of parent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' ambitions to raise global sales to 7 million vehicles by 2018 from 4.6 million shipped last year.
With the Levante, its first SUV, Maserati is a latecomer to an increasingly crowded luxury SUV market, with other luxury brands already parading their models in Frankfurt.
But Wester believes Maserati, which combines Italian design and engines made by sister brand Ferrari, can still offer something unique.
Wester also said work on hybrid models for both Maserati and Alfa Romeo, for which he is also responsible, had started.
"We have launched all the projects ... both for Maserati and Alfa Romeo we will have plug-in hybrids in the line up starting from early 2018," he said.