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Maserati revives fortunes in U.S. with GranTurismo convertible

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Maserati revives fortunes in U.S. with GranTurismo convertible

Maserati says the GranTurismo Convertible has sold out in the U.S. market, resulting in waiting lists

Photo credit: Maserati

December 21, 2010 - 12:32 pm ET

DETROIT (Bloomberg) -- Maserati's GranTurismo Convertible has given new life to the Fiat SpA brand in the U.S., driving sales up 48 percent this year through November.

Maserati sold a total of 1,717 vehicles in the U.S., including 558 of the four-seat convertibles since its introduction in March, according to Autodata Corp., a Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey-based researcher. The GranTurismo Convertible starts at $136,000, according to Edmunds.com, a website that tracks new car sales.

New models can “dramatically improve” exotic car sales, hurt last year by the economic downturn and the stigma of driving vehicles with six-figure price tags, said Rebecca Lindland, an analyst with IHS Automotive in Lexington, Mass. U.S. Maserati sales plunged 49 percent to 1,275 in 2009, according to Autodata.

“Last year it was so socially incorrect to buy a vehicle like this,” said Lindland. “Now you've got people saying it's OK to buy something like a Maserati.”

Maserati said the GranTurismo Convertible has sold out in the U.S., resulting in waiting lists, according to the automaker's website.

“We are pleased with the results this year,” said Jeffrey Ehoodin, a Maserati spokesman.

U.S. sales of Maserati's GranTurismo coupe and Quattroporte sedan haven't rebounded to 2008 levels, when the brand's sales totaled 2,510, according to Autodata. Sales of Volkswagen AG's Bentley brand rose 2.6 percent this year through November to 1,233, while its Lamborghini brand fell 20 percent to 264. Sales of Fiat's Ferrari increased 12 percent to 1,396.

U.S. Maserati production

Maserati's premium luxury segment is smaller than the broader high-end auto market. Fiat Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne, who also heads Chrysler Group LLC, has said a Maserati vehicle will begin production in 2012 at a plant in Detroit, where the Jeep Grand Cherokee is assembled.

Customers of the new Maserati convertible like the styling and handling, said Ken Gorin, chief executive officer and president of The Collection, a luxury car dealership that sells Maserati cars in Coral Gables, Fla.

“They love it because it's special,” Gorin said in a telephone interview last week. “They love it because they can customize it.”

The dealership's Maserati sales are up 60 percent this year, he said.

“When I saw it online, I just knew I had to have this car,” said Tony Casazza, an entrepreneur who lives in Clark, N.J., who owns a website called LANshack.com that sells cabling for computer networks. “Everything that I saw on the car was just so damn attractive that I just had to have it.”

He purchased the convertible in July.

“When I bought the car, I never realized what a life- changing experience it was going to be,” Casazza, 53, said in an interview last week. “Since I got the car, I've done so many social things, like for example, I joined the Maserati club and I was invited to the Columbus Day Parade” in New York City.

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20101221/OEM/101229974/1298#ixzz18nYBCaW2

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