What happened to the waiting list?
For as long as memory serves, Ferrari has boasted about its long waiting list of buyers, including many willing to shell out thousands of dollars just to move ahead in line. Prior to the current economic downturn, the Italian maker claimed its average model was as much as three years on back order.
No longer. With problems at its sibling Maserati division complicating matters, Ferrari is downgrading its sales estimates for the year to just 11,000 vehicles for the two brands, compared to the original 20,000 car forecast. In turn, the maker, a subsidiary of Fiat, is planning to cut jobs and idle some of its plants.
About 120 office workers will lose their jobs, along with 150 plant employees, the maker says. Meanwhile, a plant at its headquarters, in Maranello, near Modena, will close for a week, impacting another 600 employees.
Ferrari officials say their lead brand is reasonably healthy and that there still remains strong demand for many models, such as the $228,000 Ferrari California. But the big issue is Maserati, where sales have continued to slip despite optimistic forecasts and the expansion of the model line-up.
In 2008, Ferrari produced 9,000 engines for the less expensive brand, a figure that fell by half last year. And current trends suggest Maserati will be down even more for 2010 without a sudden upturn in demand.
That’s a problem for both makers, as Ferrari not only has a financial stake in Maserati but uses its plants to produce engines and other key components for models like the Quattroporte.
“Ferrari has to respond to market demands that rise and fall in an ever less-predictable fashion,” noted a company statement outlining the company’s planned cuts.
First quarter profits fell 28%, to $50 million, after a 30% decline last year.
A new five-year plan for Ferrari and Maserati, outlined by Fiat Chairman Sergio Marchionne last month, remained upbeat, forecasting that by 2014 the two brands will be able to double revenues, to around $5 billion, by expanding their respective model line-ups.