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Maserati set to more than double sales in 2014

New member: The Maserati Ghibli (left) will likely arrive in Australia by mid-2014, giving the company a rival for the BMW 5 Series and Jaguar XF, while the Levante (below) is expected by the start of 2016.

New Quattroporte and Ghibli sedan to give Maserati a big leg-up in Oz for 2014

23 Jan 2014

MASERATI Australia general manager Glen Sealey says he would be “disappointed if we only doubled” local sales in 2014 compared to last year given new models now beginning to arrive.

The aim is to achieve as many as 300 sales this year, up from 134 in 2013 – and 100 units beyond its all-time record set in 2008.

The Italian supercar marque’s Australian distributor European Automotive Imports (EAI) this week launched the new-generation twin-turbo V8-powered Quattroporte GTS flagship sedan, which will be followed late in February by the higher-volume V6 Quattroporte S.

Both arrive months later than expected due to global stock shortages, but with about 90 units locked in for local delivery this year and demand outstripping supply, sales volume of Maserati’s flagship model is set for a significant increase.

Global supply constraints notwithstanding, the smaller Ghibli sedan spun off the Quattroporte also arrives here in the second quarter of 2014, tasked with poaching buyers out of the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Jaguar XF, among others.

While high-end versions of the Ghibli will tackle the likes of the $160K BMW 550i and $190K Jaguar XFR, entry versions are almost certain to lob well beneath $150,000 – a new low-water mark for the brand Down Under.

There is some risk, however, of the Ghibli’s mid-2014 arrival date being pushed back a few months as the Turin plant struggles to keep up with demand globally – at least until production is ramped up from 2015.

“I’m watching our production dates slip out (on Ghibli),” Mr Sealey told GoAuto this week. “We have much of our production already sold ... and many of the people we have sold cars to are first-time Maserati buyers, so it’s not an ideal situation for us.” To be supported by a growing dealer network, the new arrivals mean Maserati will certainly outstrip its 201-unit sales record achieved six years ago, according to Mr Sealey.

While this represents substantial growth, Mr Sealey pointed out that even a figure of 300 sales is still tiny in the scheme of things and ensures the brand retains one of its most vital attributes: exclusivity.

“Compared to where we were, yes it is a boom, but 300 cars is still a speck in the ocean, and we won’t tread on anyone’s toes,” he said.

“You’re (still) getting the performance, the emotion and personal touch. It’s important we keep that.” This may come in for change in a few years’ time, however, because 300 annual sales is but a fraction of where Maserati wants to be in Australia from 2016 – the year its crucial new Levante crossover SUV will arrive to compete with the Porsche Cayenne.

“We always said 2016 will be our big year,” said Mr Sealey.

EAI has revealed an ambitious target for that year of 1500 units. By extension, the Australian market – which already punches above its weight as the seventh largest for Maserati worldwide – will form a crucial plank in the company’s plan to sell 50,000 new vehicles around the world annually in 2015 and beyond.

As with German brand Porsche and its Cayenne SUV – and the smaller, imminent Macan – the bulk of Maserati’s sales are likely to come from the high-riding Levante.

“Certainly if you look at the segments for Quattroporte, the numbers aren’t huge. Neither for the Gran Turismo. If you look at Ghibli, it almost doubles us overnight, but really where the volume is, is in the SUV segment,” said Mr Sealey.

By the time the Levante touches down, EAI will have expanded its Australian Maserati network to at least eight sites, with dealers on Sydney’s lower north shore, in Melbourne and – down the line – the Gold Coast signing on.

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