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Boom time for Maserati

First step: The Australian launch of the Maserati Quattroporte sedan in September will kick off an expansion of the company’s model range and local dealer network.

Australia to play key role in Maserati’s plans for eight-fold global growth

21 Feb 2013

THE addition of three brand new model lines and a trio of extra east coast dealerships will form the backbone of Maserati’s ambitious goal to grow Australian sales from 124 units in 2012 to 1500 units by 2016.

By extension, the local market – which already punches above its weight as the seventh largest for Maserati worldwide – will form a crucial plank in the iconic company’s plan to sell 50,000 new vehicles in 2015, up from just 6307 units last year.

Maserati is understood to have been the recipient of a major cash injection from parent company Fiat Chrysler, with a new product to be released every six months over the next two-and-a-half years.

These include (in order) the new-generation Quattroporte flagship sedan, smaller Ghibli sedan, Levante luxury SUV, GranSport coupe and new-gen versions of the GranCoupe and GranCabrio.

As such, Maserati Australia distributor European Automotive Imports has revealed to GoAuto that it is also working on recruiting three new dealers, with new sites in both Sydney and Melbourne planned for late 2013 and a Gold Coast outlet in early 2014.

32 center imageFrom top: Maserati Australia and New Zealand general manager Glen Sealey Maserati Levante-previewing Kubang concept.

These three new sites will expand the company’s Australian footprint beyond its current five sites – in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth – and, in a first for Maserati, operate independent from fellow Italian marque Ferrari.

Speaking with GoAuto at a viewing of the new-generation Quattroporte flagship sedan in Sydney this week, Maserati Australia and New Zealand general manager Glen Sealey said it was an exciting time for the company as it embarked on a period of unprecedented growth in its almost 100 year history.

Calling the new Quattroporte the “absolute pinnacle” of the range, Mr Sealey said the Porsche Panamera rival would lay the foundation for expansion into more populous and competitive segments with the Ghibli from February 2014, and – most importantly – the Levante in late 2014.

With SUV sales booming around the globe, it is the Levante that stands to account for the lion’s share of Maserati growth – much like the controversial Cayenne did for Porsche.

Quattroporte sales will commence in September this year with the 390kW/650Nm twin-turbo 3.8-litre V8, and will be joined in November by the entry 301kW/550Nm 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 version.

Mr Sealey said an as-yet unspecified diesel Quattroporte variant was also likely to appear in late 2014, at which time the company will shoot for 100 annual sales. The company sold 37 Quattroportes here in 2012 – more than in Italy, the UK and France.

The soon-to-be-superseded Quattroporte range is priced between $250,000 and $298,800 plus on-road costs, but Mr Sealey said the all-new version would start lower and finish higher.

“This car will go higher in terms of its positioning – a lot higher – it offers a lot more,” he said. “In saying that, there will be versions that will go lower than the current car, that offer less in terms of performance.”

A smaller, separate performance two-door model – expected to be called the GranSport – will also join the range in 2015, and is expected to be produced alongside the conceptually similar Alfa Romeo 4C in Modena.

As reported last year, this Modena plant will be freed up to accommodate the GranSport thanks to a $A647 million investment in updating a former Bertone factory in Turin, which will be able to build the Quattroporte, the forthcoming Ghibli sedan and – possibly – the confirmed Levante luxury SUV.

While the Levante had been expected to built alongside the Jeep Grand Cherokee in the USA, it is now expected that Fiat Chrysler CEO and chairman Sergio Marchionne will opt for production in Europe to both relieve pressure on the busy US line and prop up the under-utilised Italian plant.

Details on both the Ghibli and Levante remain scarce, although the former is expected to be revealed in Shanghai in April. Plans to reveal the car in Geneva this March are understood to be in doubt due to flagging European sales – a result of continued economic woes across the region.

Mr Sealey said the Ghibli would share common architecture with the Quattroporte, and probably its V6 petrol engine.

Ghibli pricing could also kick off somewhere under $150,000 in Australia – a new low for the company Down Under.

“We have a car that is comparable to a Mercedes E500 ($183,185) or V8 BMW 5 Series ($180,000),” he said, “but we also ideally will have a car that will compared to an E350 ($132,135), however we won’t go down to the lower level, $80,000 base E-Class or 5 Series models.”

Mr Sealey said the Levante – previewed by the Kubang from the 2011 Frankfurt motor show – would be aimed squarely at the Porsche Cayenne and BMW X6, with an equally sporty bent and a welcome dash of exclusivity, something the company sees as a major selling point.

“There’s always a compromise somewhere, but if we can pull off a good balance of each and instil that sex appeal, passion, emotion and the affect on the senses to an SUV, that’s a terrific formula,” he said.

“We wont get sales from rivals by offering the same thing, we will take sales by offering something different.”

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