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Future models - Maserati - Levante

Maserati boosts Levante production

Doubling up: Maserati is gearing up towards a global rollout of its Levante luxury SUV by almost doubling production staff at its factory in Italy.

Production of Maserati’s Levante SUV to double as it gears up for a global launch

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Maserati logo27 May 2016

By TUNG NGUYEN

ITALIAN luxury car-maker Maserati has announced it will double production of its inaugural SUV, the Levante, in preparation for its launch across global markets, including Australia in early 2017.

Maserati will now employ 1200 people, up from 650, on the Levante production line at its Mirafiori factory in Turin, Italy, and will double the daily production shifts to two, with more work expected mid-year to boost output even further.

No line rates were given, but Maserati has previously said the Levante will be responsible for dramatically increasing the brand’s overall sales.

Despite a surge of growth brought with the all-new Ghibli mid-size sedan launched in 2014, the trident brand’s global sales actually fell 13 per cent last year to around 32,500 units.

Undeterred, former brand chief Harald Wester said at the Geneva motor show in March that he was confident – with Levante in full production and with all variants on sale in all markets – that in 2017 the company would reach the 50,000 mark.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) chief executive Sergio Marchionne, who earlier this week announced that Maserati UK head Reid Bigland had taken the reins of both Maserati and Alfa Romeo from Mr Wester “with immediate effect”, has also forecast 75,000 sales for Maserati by 2018, however this looks to be an ambitious target.

According to Maserati, which launched the Levante in the UK overnight ahead of first deliveries later in the year, all new assembly line workers have had “extensive training in the unique construction and personalisation techniques and technology employed to produce the Levante”.

Built on the Quattroporte platform, Levante will be assembled at Mirafiori using a combination of computer-controlled production lines and paint applications with traditional handcrafted leather and silk interiors.

The Mirafiori site also serves as the home of FCA’s research and development centre and is the second factory in Turin to produce Maserati models.

Maserati is hoping to steal sales away from large luxury SUV mainstays including the Porsche Cayenne, BMW X5, Audi Q7 and the Mercedes-Benz GLE.

In Australia, overall sales in the segment have increased by 31 per cent to the end of April this year, with BMW leading on 1437 X5s sold and the Porsche Cayenne, Audi Q7 and Mercedes GLE on 521, 953 and 911 sales respectively.

Bentley has recently released its Bentayga large SUV and Jaguar is also preparing to launch its first SUV in the form of the F-Pace.

The all-wheel-drive automatic-only Levante has been launched overseas with of a choice of three turbocharged V6 engines.

Power ranges from 202kW/600Nm in the turbo-diesel engine to 316kW/580Nm in the twin-turbo petrol, the latter enabling a 0-100km/h acceleration time of 5.2 seconds.

Local pricing and spec has yet to be confirmed, but the Levante could emerge as Maserati’s most affordable model to date, potentially slotting underneath the Ghibli D luxury sedan which is priced from $139,000 plus on-road costs.

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