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Maserati won’t go ‘downmarket’ with small SUV

Riding high: The Australian allocation of the Levante SUV has sold out until April.

Macan rival ruled out for Maserati despite Levante SUV success

Maserati logo13 Dec 2016

By DANIEL DeGASPERI

MASERATI Australia chief operating officer Glen Sealey has ruled out plans to follow Porsche and move “downmarket” with a small SUV, despite admitting that the larger Levante will make up 59 per cent of the brand’s volume next year.

Speaking with GoAuto ahead of the updated Quattroporte national media launch earlier this month, Mr Sealey revealed that Maserati currently held plans for new product beyond 2020, but none included a smaller SUV or a model that would drop below what he sees as an ‘exclusive’ $150,000 entry sticker to the brand.

“Of course we have plans stretching out beyond 2020 today, I’ve seen those plans and they’re exciting plans,” he said.

“(But) Maserati sits in a space where it has group brands above it and below it. Publicly it has been said we wish to get to 75,000 cars per year and then cap it. If we were to do that there is clearly no room for a smaller SUV, because we’re going to meet that with our existing plans and model range that we have.” The local Maserati boss admitted that “Porsche is the closest brand aligned” to the Italian marque, positioned above the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz but below Aston Martin, Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Rolls-Royce.

“But Porsche is moving further downmarket and that’s a great strategy for them,” Mr Sealey said, ruling out a rival to the Macan that now starts from $76,500 plus on-road costs in 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder guise.

“We wish to occupy that space well above what I call the premium brands and sit below the exotic brands, and that’s what we call an exclusive space. That is a really nice space for us to play in the marketplace there.” In a further swipe at Porsche, he added: “To be honest I can’t think of another brand that does it.” Mr Sealey explained that Maserati was once seen as an ‘exotic’ brand that sold 6000 cars per year globally and 150 units per year in Australia, however it had now moved into a space he termed ‘exclusive’ but not ‘premium.’ “To push the brand down, or across, from where it is today in terms of, well, Ghibli is our starting price – the Ghibli diesel – I don’t see a need for that today,” he continued.

“We have a good brand and we have a nice segment in the marketplace. We wanted to move from being exotic to being exclusive, we don’t want to become premium and there’s a clear distinction in that.

“If I look at premium brands, they are brands that cover a raft of segments and are able to charge a premium within those segments. BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz are great examples of premium brands – they start at $30,000-odd and go up to $400,000-odd grand.

“That’s not us – we want to start at $150,000 on the road in Australia, $138,990 price point as a beginning so we are at well over $100,000 as a start point and we don’t want to bump much further into Ferrari’s territory either, so we don’t really want to go over $400,000 either.” Maserati is on track to sell exactly 500 cars in Australia this year, with the Ghibli sedan – its most affordable product – making up 325 units or 65 per cent of total sales.

With stocks of the Levante arriving in December/January and production sold out until April, it is expected to make up 59 per cent of the expected 1000 units sold next year, with the Ghibli’s share next year falling to 30 per cent.

“For now I can tell you from our perspective, our aim is to see the brand grow to double where it (Maserati) is today by this time next year, but in saying that have a brand that’s really exclusive, that’s really important to us,” Mr Sealey added.

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