We spoke with North American CEO, Al Gardner, about Maserati's production offensive.
Maserati went through a major branding change in 2013 with the introduction of the Ghibli sedan. The boutique Italian brand known for Ferrari-powered niche cars like the Quattroporte and Gran Turismo was suddenly building cars to compete with the likes of Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz with a plan to sell up to 75,000 cars per year. Maserati has since admitted that lumping itself with Alfa Romeo to increase volume was a mistake and we had a chance to sit down with the company's North American CEO, Al Gardner, to talk about the brand's strategy moving forward.
"It goes to the heart of 'what is a Maserati?' If we are true to what the Maserati brand is, it was developed in 1914 as a racecar brand. And for the first 33 years, we never built anything other than race cars. So if we stay true to performance and luxury, then we're a niche brand," Gardner explained.
Continuing on the conversation, it seems apparent that Maserati and Alfa Romeo will have more separation moving forward. "Alfa is going to go the heart of the volume. That's not where Maserati wants to play. Maserati wants to play north of, we'll call it $75,000 because that's where Ghibli starts. I think we'll continue to position ourselves as that type of brand that is true luxury and performance with the Italian design, style, sophistication, and elegance. And we can do that and make it 'affordable.' It doesn't need to go lower than that," Gardner said in reference to the $75,000 price point.
"There's not even a question of going down. But I do think there are segments that we should play in. The growing segments are in mid-size SUV, full-size SUV, and we recognize that the small SUV is a growing premium segment but we just don't want to play that. We will leave that to Alfa. That's their world. We want to go midsize SUV and up, we want to be full-size car and up, and we want to be sports cars. We want Gran Turismo to be exactly what it is today, which is people look at it and go 'wow.'"
Maserati's next-generation sports car, tentatively named the Alfieri, will debut next year at the 2020 Geneva Motor Show. Alongside it, the Italian brand plans to introduce a larger SUV above the Levante and replace its entire lineup by 2022. "We'll replace every one of those vehicles between now and the end of 2022," Gardner said. "And inside of that, we recognize we need a full lineup of what's called a hybrid, hybrid plug-in, and electric to meet both regulations and demand."
Gardner also wanted to clarify that all of Maserati's new products wouldn't just be announced by 2022, they'll actually be available. "Look for us to put them in dealerships and into production by 2022," Gardner said. "I guarantee we will give you something fun to talk about every four to six months for the next X number of years."