There’s no doubt that Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is an outspoken and ambitious man. Paradoxically, while he succeeded in helping turn Chrysler around, the group’s European operations are in trouble.
His most recent plan is to use the Chrysler tie-up to boost sales of Maserati. He has quite a tight time-schedule, too: as Maserati CEO Harald Wester said, he wants the Modena-based luxury carmaker to deliver 50,000 vehicles by 2015.
Well, that’s less than half of what Porsche sells today. At the same time, it’s more than eight times the 6,159 cars Maserati shifted in 2011!
Well, according to Autonews, Marchionne will invest US$1.2 billion in Maserati and is counting on the Quattroporte flagship saloon, the upcoming smaller Ghibli sedan and the Levante SUV, as well as the 2,300-strong U.S. Chrysler dealership network, to help him achieve this target.
The all-new Quattroporte, which was driven by the press in Nice this week, is available with two twin-turbocharged engines at launch: a 404HP 3.0-liter V6 and a 523HP 3.8-liter V8, both built at Ferrari’s Maranello factory.
Priced from around €150,000 (US$193,000) in Europe, the new Quattroporte V8 will rival the €141,000 Porsche Panamera Turbo, according to the automaker.
While a Ferrari-built V6 or V8 may sound like music to prospective customers’ ears, some of them may baulk at the news that the new Quattroporte is built around a Chrysler 300-derived platform.
Then again, the Cayenne is a Porsche based on a VW, the Ghost is a Rolls-Royce based on a BMW, the Continental GT is a Bentley built on a VW (again...) and so on and so forth.
U.S. dealerships are not the only Chrysler asset Marchionne will use. Both the Quattroporte and the Ghibli, which will compete with cars like the BMW 5-Series and will also launch an Alfa Romeo variant, will use components from the 300 in order to reduce development costs.
Marchionne is hell-bent on making Maserati succeed in the U.S., to the point that he has delayed the launch of the new Fiat Punto because the investment needed may not yield the results it should in such a competitive segment amid a financial crisis.
Starting from 2013, Marchionne wants to shift at least 13,000 Quattroportes, up from a total of about 4,700 Maseratis sold in the first three quarters of this year.
According to the report from Autonews, IHS analyst firm estimates that Maserati will deliver 28,100 vehicles in 2015. That’s 44 percent less than Sergio’s target.
Euromonitor International analyst Neil King told the publication: “Maserati has the right reputation and consumers are out there for more premium cars, especially in the U.S. and China”, he said. “On the other hand, their target is incredibly ambitious.”
An understatement, if ever there was one.
In the meantime, you can view the first reviews of the brand-new Quattroporte in the videos that follow, courtesy of Dutch publications Autovisie and Autoweek, and Italy's Omniauto. Unfortunately, our understanding of the language is quite poor, so any readers willing to enlighten us with the verdict are more than welcome.
By Andrew TsaousisStory References: Autonews