There are a number of issues that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' CEO Mike Manley has to solve. One of those is trying to improve the fortunes of Maserati. Former FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne had set an ambitious goal of selling 75,000 vehicles in 2018. But the brand has only sold just 26,400 models through the first nine months of the year, The brand reduced their target to 50,000 models in June, but trying to reach that seems quite difficult.
Max Warburton, an analyst with Bernstein wrote in a note that "Maserati looks broken — a 2.4 percent margin in Q3 is better than Q2. The business — and its volume, pricing and distribution plans — surely need a rethink."
During the third quarter's earnings call, Manley told analysts that bundling Maserati with Alfa Romeo proved to be a mistake.
"With hindsight, when we put Maserati and Alfa together, it did two things. Firstly, it reduced the focus on Maserati the brand. Secondly, Maserati was treated for a period of time almost as if it were a mass market brand, which it isn't and shouldn't be treated that way," he said.
FCA has moved its chief technology officer Harald Wester back to Maserati to lead it. He led the brand from 2008 to 2016. One of the first moves by Wester was recruiting Jean-Philippe Leloup. He previously headed up Ferrari's business operations in central and eastern Europe.
But there is still a glaring issue facing Maserati, products. The Alferi coupe and cabrio, along with a specialty model were supposed to launch by the end of the 2014-2018 plan. That did not happen. Felipe Munoz, an analyst with JATO Dynamics told Automotive News that the lack of new products and "regular cadence of launches" is hurting the brand. Not helping is the Levante which launched a couple of years ago. Munoz points out the large premium SUV segment is the only one not growing, and that Levante is being hurt by updated versions of the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class, and Porsche Cayenne being launched.
Under FCA's latest four-year plan, Maserati is expected to launch the Alferi, a midsize SUV, and electrified models by 2022. Whether or not Maserati can pull it off remains to be seen.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)