Elon Musk now has one more competitor to deal with.
Maserati is perhaps the last automaker people think of when it comes to EVs. The Italian company is more well-known for its striking designs and big, loud V8s, with former brand head Harald Wester saying electric cars were “nonsense” back in 2013. But the times have changed, and in an interview with Car and Driver at the 2016 Paris Motor Show Maserati’s head of engineering, Roberto Fedeli, revealed that the company is prepping an EV but that it won’t be ready before 2019. Actually, maybe make that 2020.
“I think that we could show something before 2020. Maybe 2019. We are working to be ready with something that we can show during the next couple of years,” Fedeli revealed. That timetable puts Maserati behind the curve substantially, and Fedeli knows this. He told Car and Driver that the brand would have to “arrive to the market with something different” as a result. Whatever that “different” thing may be is up for debate. Our money is on an electrified Alfieri. While Maserati’s head of engineering didn’t reveal what its first EV would look like he did say that taking on Tesla was a bad idea. With that in mind you can eliminate a four-door sedan, SUV and small four-door. That’s almost the entire existing Maserati lineup…
Despite not wanting to face Tesla on the open market, Fedeli doesn’t sound afraid of the upstart electric car company. In fact, he did a bit of trash talking. “The execution and quality of the products of Tesla are the same as a German OEM in the 1970s. Their solutions are not the best.” That’s a fiery hot take if we ever heard one, but he wasn’t done just yet. Fedeli called out electric cars for offering little driving emotion, saying that after the initial acceleration off the line “there is nothing.” We drove the Model S 70D a few months back and had a great time with it, but our time with the car was limited. Maybe we would have missed torque curves and downshifting after a few months behind the wheel.
What we would have liked on the Tesla—and what is impossible given the very nature of the car—is to hear something other than a ghostly whirring noise every time we smashed the go-fast pedal. Fedeli sees this, in addition to keeping weight down, as one of his biggest challenges in developing an electric car. That mountain may be too big to climb, unless Maserati is willing to get really goofy and pipe in the sounds from a V8 into its EV. (Please, please don’t do that.) 2019/2020 is a few years away, which means there is plenty of time for Maserati’s planned EV to undergo changes. Hopefully it’ll be able to see what works and doesn’t within the industry to shape its first eco-friendly car. There are advantages to being late to the party.