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Fiat Takes $1.5 Bil Gamble as it Preps Launch of Maserati SUV in Turin

Jeep-based ute was originally planned for US production.

by on Sep.05, 2013

The Maserati Levante will use the Jeep Grand Cherokee platform and a Ferrari engine.

In what it described as a major gamble, Fiat will go ahead with an investment of 1 billion euros – about $1.5 billion — in its flagship Mirafiori plant in Turin, Italy to assemble a Maserati sport-utility vehicle in a factory where work rules have been a major point of contention between the company and a key union.

The Italian partner of Detroit-based Chrysler has been threatening to shift production, indeed, even its headquarters, out of Italy if it didn’t get the sort of concessions needed to make it more competitive. CEO Sergio Marchionne is still dropping broad hints that Fiat’s corporate offices may be moved to the U.S.

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But the maker is going ahead with plans to produce the new Maserati Levante – originally known as the Kubang – in Turin, “despite the current economic and political uncertainties,” Marchionne revealed in a letter sent to the Mirafiori plant’s employees.

“Every organization and its people face important moments. Moments when it is necessary to take courageous decisions, even though the normal prudence and logic might suggest waiting.  Today is one of those moments,” Marchionne wrote.

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Maserati Betting on Larger, Faster Quattroporte

New line-up could bring Italian maker into luxury mainstream.

by on Jan.16, 2013

Maserati's new Quattroporte is longer, lower and faster than the outgoing model.

It’s one of those brand names seemingly everyone knows but few luxury buyers ever consider, a conundrum that Maserati has barely survived.  But with this week’s launch of a completely redesigned Quattroporte flagship at the North American International Auto Show – and more products to come – the Italian maker hopes to take a giant step closer to the automotive mainstream.

The outgoing Quattroporte – Italian for “four doors” – has always won raves for its svelte and seductive design. But it was something of a “tweener,” a vehicle not quite big enough to effectively compete with the products it was targeting, such as the BMW 7-Series.

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And despite the ambitious expectations of Maserati and its parent, Fiat SpA, the sedan came nowhere close to what was needed from a business case scenario.

“Three years ago, I though the lights were going to be turned out,” said Rob Allan, the maker’s U.S. product planner.

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First Look: 2013 Maserati Quattroporte

Official unveiling confirmed for Detroit Auto Show.

by on Nov.06, 2012

The look is familiar but there are plenty of changes on the 2013 Maserati Quattroporte.

One thing you can say about Maserati, the Italian maker is nothing if not ambitious.  After years of struggling to gain ground against more established luxury brands like Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and even Jaguar, it is targeting some absolutely huge growth targets for mid-decade. And to get there, the maker is planning to roll out an assortment of new and updated products that range from an updated Quattroporte sedan to an all-new luxury SUV.

We’ll get a first sense of what’s in store, it turns out, during the upcoming Detroit Auto Show, Maserati today confirming that the next-generation Quattroporte will make its debut at the annual Motor City show.

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In an advance release that included these first images, the maker suggests the redesign “reinterprets the design features of classic Maseratis in a contemporary design language. Its style was born out of the guiding design principles of Maserati: harmony of shapes, dynamism of lines, Italian elegance.”

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First Look: 2013 Maserati GranTurismo Sport

More power, updated looks.

by on Feb.20, 2012

Maserati will unveil the GranTurismo Sport in Geneva.

It’s been a good couple of years for Maserati, the Modenese maker finally getting some traction as it prepares for a wave of new products that could finally position it as a serious global luxury contender.

Among the new models on the horizon are a replacement for the flagship Quattroportes, as well as downsized version of the four-door nicknamed the “Baby” Quattroporte.  There’ll also be the Italian maker’s first crossover-utility vehicle – built in the U.S. and based on the Jeep Grand Cherokee, albeit powered by a Ferrari drivetrain.

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But the roll-out gets a kick-off at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show with the introduction of an updated Maserati GranTurismo.  Dubbed the GranTurismo Sport, it will replace the Maserati GranTurismo S.

There are a number of attractive visual updates, starting with a new fascia and revised grille, which is now surrounded by larger air intakes. The headlamps go LED – as do the darkened taillamps.  The revised interior, meanwhile, features an updated sport steering wheel and seats.

The Sport package features a new front fascia, bigger intakes, revised lamps and lots more power.

But the big news is easier to feel than see, the GranTurismo Sport getting a beefed-up version of the old S-edition’s 4.7-liter V-8.  That translates into 460 horsepower, 26 more than before.

Maserati isn’t talking price or on-sale date, though we’d expect to see the new GranTurismo Sport reach U.S. showrooms soon after the Geneva Motor Show.

The GranTurismo, incidentally, is now in its fifth year. Though the design still looks surprisingly fresh, an all-new coupe is reportedly also in the works and likely will show up by around 2014.

Maserati Reveals Detroit-made Kubang SUV

First luxury ute for Italian maker shares Jeep Grand Cherokee platform.

by on Sep.14, 2011

Maserati's Kubang Concept is expected to go into production next year.

It may sport the Italian automaker’s familiar trident logo on the oversized grille, but Maserati’s first sport-utility vehicle will be Made in Detroit, Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne confirmed during a preview at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

Officially a concept, Maserati officials make no secret of their desire to get the new model into their showrooms as quickly as possible.  It will share the same underlying platform as the current Jeep Grand Cherokee but feature more sporty tuning and higher-line features that are expected to better fit the expectations of Maserati buyers.

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The final version “will unmistakably be Maserati: style, engine, suspensions, brakes, handling and performance,” Maserati officials stressed.

A production version of the long-awaited Maserati Kubang will become the latest in a growing list of high-lux SUVs – a list which includes the Porsche Cayenne and will likely be followed by a Bentley sport-ute.  Kubang is expected to become the single best-seller in Maserati ‘s U.S. line-up, company officials say.

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Maserati Ready to Reveal Jeep-Based Luxury SUV

Unveiling at Frankfurt - two other products may also debut.

by on Aug.05, 2011

Maserati aims to grow global sales nearly tenfold.

Maserati is expected to pull the wraps off its eagerly awaited SUV at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show, several well-placed sources have confirmed, while there are reports the Italian automaker might also reveal two new sedans, as well.

The three models are key pieces in the grand expansion that is planned for Fiat’s luxury subsidiary, which is looking to boost its global sales volume almost tenfold in the coming years.

The sport-utility vehicle, in particular, reveals the significant changes underway not only at Maserati but throughout the Fiat empire.  The new model will share its underpinnings with the latest-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee, and will roll off the same assembly line along the Detroit riverfront.

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Under terms of the 2009 bailout of Chrysler, Fiat took a 20% stake in the U.S. maker – which it expects to steadily expand to a 70% share within the next couple years.  A recent shake-up effectively consolidated the management of the trans-Atlantic allies and Sergio Marchionne, who serves as CEO of the two companies, has ordered a consolidation of their product development programs, as well.

Already, a number of U.S.-made products have appeared wearing Lancia and Fiat badges in Europe, including the flagship Lancia Thema, a version of the Chrysler 300.

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Chrysler Will Build a Maserati SUV

Dodge Caravan minivan to be downsized; Liberty replaced.

by on Jan.11, 2011

Chrysler will produce a new high-line SUV for Maserati based on the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Auto executives are normally guarded about future product plans but Chrysler/Fiat Chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne let several cats out of the bag during a discussion with a small group of reporters from the U.S and Canada, during the Detroit Auto Show.

Marchionne confirmed he has approved a rumored plan to produce a new high-end luxury sport-utility vehicle for Fiat’s Maserati brand that will use the new Jeep Grand Cherokee’s underlying platform.

The Maserati SUV will be produced at the Jefferson North Assembly plant in Detroit, alongside the Jeep Grand Cherokee and its sibling ute, the Dodge Durango.

Marchonne had earlier hinted he might turn to the Jefferson  North plant to build a new Maserati  ultra-luxury SUV – one of a variety of projects that will share platforms and components between the trans-Atlantic partners. The decision has now been made to go ahead with the project.

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Chrysler May Build SUVs for Alfa-Romeo or Maserati

Maker continues integrating U.S. and Italian brands.

by on Nov.09, 2010

New versions of the Jeep Grand Cherokee could be developed for Maserati or Alfa-Romeo, says Chrysler/Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne.

Chrysler could wind up building a special sport utility vehicle for Maserati, using a Ferrari powertrain on the basic architecture of the latest-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee, which was itself completely redesigned for 2011.

Sergio Marchionne, Chrysler’s chief executive officer, threw open the doors to the possibility Chrysler could build a Maserati model during a conference call with reporters and analysts to discuss the U.S. maker’s third-quarter earnings report.  A Jeep-based Alfa-Romeo model was also offered up as a concept under consideration.

Chrysler lost $84 million in the third quarter and is paying steep interest costs but the numbers are otherwise moving in the right direction, Marchionne said, as he raised the guidance on the company’s operating profit for the full year. (For more on Chrysler earnings, Click Here.)

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Marchionne said the company also has to get serious about launching an initial public offering of stock, following cross-town rival General Motors, which expects to return to public trading later this month.

Such a move would likely come next year, said Marchionne, “Probably not in the first half of the year but definitely in the second half.”

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