Maserati as anti-crisis measure for Italy
For those wondering why it is taking so long for the plans of Alfa Romeo to be revealed, look at the new Maserati Quattroporte. Marchionne said so himself; the export of luxury cars is by far the best option for the Italian automotive industry in these difficult times. Smaller cars will probably still be selling well in the US and South-America in the next years, but China is an entirely different case. The Chinese are interested in (expensive) brands with a proper, outstanding identity. Most brands will probably be focusing on this Asian market, as 2013 doesn’t promise a lot of improvement in Europe for the manufacturers of compact cars. Lingotto has plenty to offer (Maserati, Alfa Romeo and Jeep), but it has taken some time to get there and prepare these brands for what’s coming. Knowhow from Italy and extra capacity from the US are the basic ingredients for success in these branches. So; keep an eye on Maserati in the next years, and you’ll immediately know whether Alfa Romeo will succeed or not. Lancia will be dependent on the success of Chrysler on the American market and has Italy as its most important goal (because of a market share of 6%).
Harald Wester once again confirmed Maserati’s goal (of selling 50.000 cars a year by 2015) yesterday in Detroit, whilst standing next to the convincing new product called Quattroporte. This flagship, together with the other models in the range, should take care of 13-15.000 sold cars by the end of 2013 (compared to approximately 5.000 in 2012). Powerful modern V6 (prices start at 110.000 euros in Italy) and V8-engines, four- and rear-wheel drive and even a possible diesel (the Ghibli is certainly getting a V6 diesel) are the foundations for all this. The factory at the Via Allamano in Grugliasco (Turin) will, despite these sad economic times, be able to work at full strength thanks to a severely growing demand from the US and Asia. Just like has been the case with Ferrari in the past several years.
The Ghibli will be an important sequence in the lower segment. The pre-production phase starts in the second half of 2013 in Grugliasco. Alfa Romeo’s chapter will be starting there as well. 25.000 Ghiblis can be produced a year. The factory in Grugliasco can now handle an annual capacity of 40.000 cars and can, when necessary, be expanded to 50.000. The SUV Levante will be manufactured nearby in the renovated Mirafiori. The launch of this car, on the same basis as the Grand Cherokee, will follow in the second half of 2014. The first concrete announcements for the plans with Mirafiori will probably be made at the end of this month, when the official production start of the Quattroporte will be celebrated in Grugliasco.