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Maserati Makeover: Italian luxury maker plans for dramatic growth
Plus: Maserati Kubang SUV due at 2014 Detroit show

By comparison, Maserati delivered 6,159 units in 2011, an increase of 8.5 percent compared with the previous year. More than 2,700 of those were versions of the GranTurismo. Maserati executives have said that the brand is aiming for growth, though this new figure would easily set a record for the marque.

While a potential surge could propel the brand higher on the sales charts, the surprising growth plans could change the image of the famous Italian luxury maker’s exclusivity, as the expansion would take Maserati into the territory of almost mainline manufacturing with factories in three locations.

To accommodate this, future production will be located in a former Bertone factory in Italy, which is being upgraded at a cost of nearly $660 million. Maserati says its present plant in Modena cannot handle the expansion.

Maserati plans to add three new models in three different market segments in the next two years. While not announcing specifics, it’s known that a production version of the Kubang SUV concept will be built on Jeep Grand Cherokee underpinnings in Detroit (the final model will not called the Kubang). Maserati is owned by Fiat, which owns a controlling stake in Chrysler.

The move mirrors a strategy by German sports-car maker Porsche, which has experienced significant sales growth around the world by adding the Cayenne SUV and the Panamera sedan to round out its lineup in recent years. The Macan, a smaller SUV, will launch in 2013. The 911 remains the halo car, but the Cayenne is the brand’s best seller, totaling 2,905 units through March.

Intriguingly, the sales spurt likely would push Maserati past Ferrari in global sales, as the Prancing Horse delivered 7,195 cars in 2011, a 9.5 percent uptick. Both companies are owned by Fiat, which appears to be maintaining Ferrari as the ultra-sport-and-luxury brand in the stable while making Maserati the relatively more attainable brand.

Additionally, another Fiat division, Alfa Romeo, will assemble a new model in Modena starting in 2013, reportedly the 4C sports car that is expected to come to the United States.

Maserati said in a statement that it will use temporary layoffs during a transition period, though it didn’t elaborate. Workers could be used at other Fiat Group plants.
Maserati Kubang production SUV due at 2014 Detroit show
Maserati says the Beijing motor show will be the fourth and final auto show appearance for its Kubang SUV concept.

“After Beijing, we will retire the Kubang concept. Our SUV will reappear in its production form and with its final name in due time,” Maserati CEO Harald Wester told Automotive News Europe on the sidelines of the show.

Sources say the production version of the SUV will appear at the Detroit auto show in January 2014.

Unveiled last September at the Frankfurt auto show, the Kubang also has been displayed at auto shows in Dubai and Detroit.

In Beijing, the Kubang was located near one of its future rivals, the Lamborghini Urus concept.

Maserati, Lamborghini and Bentley want to enter the SUV niche a decade after Porsche broke with tradition and rolled out the Cayenne in 2002. The Cayenne--not the brand’s iconic 911--accounted for half of Porsche’s 118,867 sales in 2011.

Demand for luxury SUVs, including the Cayenne and Mercedes-Benz GL class, is forecast to climb 49 percent in China to 265,200 units in 2015, according to IHS Automotive.

Maserati plans to start European and U.S. sales of its new SUV in the first half of 2014. Media reports say that the Lamborghini Urus will arrive in 2017 at the earliest.

Maserati’s SUV will share its underpinnings with the Jeep Grand Cherokee and will be built by Chrysler in Detroit. Maserati will supply gasoline and diesel engines from Italy. The Fiat subsidiary aims to sell 20,000 to 25,000 units of the SUV a year.


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