It’s anything but unusual for an automaker to shake up its management ranks when sales start to stumble. In the case of Maserati SpA, however, the maker is re-ordering its executive ranks just as sales begin to take off after years of lagging the luxury pack.
Maserati set a new all-time sales record of 623 units in October, nearly tripling the North American sales total for the same month last year. The introduction of the Quattroporte S Q4, the first all-wheel-drive car to be offered by Maserati, helped increase sales by more than 186% compared with the year-ago period.
Overall, Maserati’s North American sales are up 29% year-to-date. In addition, Maserati has already sold more vehicles in 10 months in the U.S. than it sold in all of 2012.
Now, as if to try to ensure this tide continues to roll, two of Chrysler/Fiat’s rising young stars, Saad Chehab and Peter Grady, have been given new roles at Maserati.
Chehab joins Maserati as Chief Marketing Officer worldwide while Peter Grady takes on the role of President and CEO of Maserati North America Inc., replacing Bob Graczyk effective immediately.
Chrysler/Fiat Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne has made no secret of his desire to expand Maserati’s sales and make the brand a full-fledged challenger to German luxury brands such as Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, BMW and Audi.
In fact, he’s set a target of selling 50,000 units by 2015. Part of that will come from an onslaught of new products, including the new mid-sized Ghibli sport sedan.
Powered by a proprietary, twin-turbocharged V-6 Maserati engine producing 345 horsepower with rear-wheel drive and 404 hp in S Q4 All-Wheel-Drive trim, the Ghibli accelerates from a standstill to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds with a top speed of 176 mph. The Ghibli begins arriving in dealerships this month.
Prior to joining Maserati, Chehab was President and CEO of the Chrysler Brand. Before taking that title in 2011, he was Director, Advertising and Brand Marketing of Chrysler Group with responsibility for overseeing advertising strategy and brand marketing program coordination for each of the company’s brands. He was helping develop the advertising campaigns that have been critical to boosting Chrysler Group sales during the past four years.
Drawn to Marchionne’s vision, he joined Chrysler in 2009, after a decade at the Ford Motor Co. where he had risen to become Director of Creative Services.
Since then Chrysler has staged a comeback and Marchionne has credited Chehab with being an integral part of the team of young executives that have helped revive the Chrysler Group. Trained as an architect at the University of Detroit, Chehab’s family had brought him to the United States and Detroit from Lebanon.
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In his new role at Maserti, Chehab will report to Maserati President Harald Wester.
Grady will retain his Chrysler Group Dealer Network responsibilities as Vice President Dealer Network Development, including responsibility for Chrysler Capital.
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“It is with pleasure and anticipation that I welcome Peter to Maserati. He brings to our company nearly 30 years of leadership and experience. His background and industry expertise will be a great basis for the continued expansion of Maserati in North America,” Wester said.