MILAN (Reuters) -- Fiat Chrysler Automobiles started production of the Maserati Levante at its Mirafiori plant in Turin today, the automaker said in a statement.
The Levante, which will be presented at the Geneva auto show on Tuesday, is Maserati's first SUV.
The SUV, a rival to the Porsche Cayenne, will be launched in Europe in May and later in other markets around the world.
Maserati revealed some details and its first undisguised images of the Levante earlier this month.
Originally planned for release in 2014, the Levante is a key element of Maserati's effort to increase sales in the next two years by joining the rapidly growing market for high-end SUV/crossovers.
Maserati's volume has been hit by falling demand in the Chinese and U.S. markets for its high-end sedans.
The Levante will be presented as a practical alternative to the brand's sports cars. It will have all-wheel-drive and off-road capability but its main appeal will be its sporty handling.
Automotive News Europe contributed to this report