Italian automaker makes good on its Chrysler connections.
The exclusivity of Maserati doesn’t rival Ferrari, but if parent Fiat has its way, the Italian sports car brand will soon move mainstream. Certainly, selling 50,000 models annually pales in comparison to most of the world’s top brands, but that figure represents a 10-fold increase in Maserati’s current sales.
In 2010, Maserati sold 5,675 vehicles reports AutoWeek. Three new models, each based on platforms and components from Chrysler, are in the works and will help to bolster Maserati’s sales. The Quattroporte, a large sedan retailing for $135,800 will be replaced with two additional models brought online. The Quattroporte’s replacement will be based on the platform underpinning the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger – as will another sedan. A third model is to be based on the current Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Maserati will not be selling rebadged Chryslers. Instead, the automaker will utilize in-house technology to build all new vehicles with different bodies, unique interiors, special suspension systems and dedicated powertrains. This will allow Maserati to expand its line without the huge cost of building fresh from the ground up models. As AutoWeek notes this practice is evident elsewhere including with the Bentley Continental and Volkswagen Phaeton, models which are similar under the skin.
The two Maserati sedans will enable the Italian brands to compete with Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW in the European sedan segment with models positioned to battle the Mercedes S-Class and BMW 5-Series, among others. The Maserati SUV might compete against the Mercedes M-Class and similar models.
Maserati, along with Alfa Romeo and Lancia will benefit from Chrysler technology to bring forth new cars to the market. Ferrari isn’t likely to be touched directly although this brand will most likely share some of its own technology with the Dodge Viper. The Fiat brand will also yield several new products for Chrysler including the replacement for the current Dodge Caliber.
European versions of new Maserati models are likely to be powered by diesel and gasoline engines, although the latter seems like it could be the only engine served up in North America, at least initially. Fiat and Chrysler are working with ZF to bring 8-speed automatic transmission technology to some of its models, a logical pairing to whatever Maserati sticks underneath the hood.