FCA Takes The First Steps Towards Maserati’s Hopeful Salvation

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles boss Michael Manley had no problem of admitting that pairing Maserati with Alfa Romeo was wrong, and now he appears to have a new strategy that will hopefully turn things around for the troubled Italian brand.

While details of Maserati’s new strategy are still under wraps, Manley’s move to restore Harald Wester as Maserati’s head and give him the task of forming a new management team is indicative of the ongoing planning, Autocar reports.

Wester has already appointed Jean-Philippe Leloup -who previously worked as Ferrari’s chief of operations in central and eastern Europe- to lead a new division called Maserati Commercial. Al Gardner was also promoted to lead Maserati in North America.

FCA didn’t tell if Maserati will receive any additional investment, as work on the brand’s new strategy is still ongoing.

During an investor conference last year, Manley said: “With hindsight, when we put Maserati and Alfa together, it did two things. Firstly, it reduced the focus on Maserati the brand. Secondly, Maserati was treated for a period of time almost as if it were a mass-market brand, which it isn’t and shouldn’t be treated that way.”

Manley added that Maserati’s new plan will be followed by some further action during the fourth quarter. “It will take at least two quarters to sort through some of the channel issues, but I’m expecting Harald and his team to make some significant progress beginning in the second half of 2019.”

Maserati suffered greatly from a sales drop in China and other delays caused by the latest WLTP emission regulations. However, the brand’s biggest problem can be found in its lineup: the GranTurismo and GranCabrio models are now 11 years old, followed by the Ghibli and Quattroporte that are five years old. Even the two-year-old Levante saw its sales dropping fast in a segment that includes newer rivals like the Porsche Cayenne.

Last time we heard about Maserati’s future was in June 2018, Sergio Marchionne’s last investor conference. The plan included the launch of the Alfieri coupe in both full-electric and plug-in hybrid versions, a new crossover that will be positioned under the Levante and brand-new successors for the Ghibli, Quattroporte and Levante that will feature both pure electric and plug-in hybrid powertrains.

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