Marchionne Wants Maserati To Be FCA’s New Ferrari
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is gearing up to spin Ferrari, its most profitable brand, off into another company, and float its stock on the open market. That means it’s going to need another profit-driver to generate income for the rest of the group. And according to its chief executive Sergio Marchionne, that mantle will soon be picked up by Maserati.
FCA is betting big on Maserati, which has long stood as a niche marque with a limited array of models and low sales numbers. In addition to the recently introduced Ghibli and Quattroporte sedans – now crucially offered with diesels and all-wheel drive – Maserati is preparing to roll out the Levante crossover that promises to do for the Modenese marque what the Cayenne did for Porsche. Due in part to the success of its first crossover, Porsche turned itself from a niche sports car manufacturer into an immensely profitable automaker that was (nearly) capable of buying out the entire Volkswagen Group.
Maserati’s resurgence is part of a two-pronged assault FCA is plotting against its German rivals. Maserati will be charged with taking on the higher end of the Mercedes, BMW, and Audi ranges (from the E-Class, 5 Series and A6 upwards). Meanwhile, Alfa Romeo will go after the lower end of the luxury spectrum with the new Giulia (aimed at the C-Class, 3 Series and A4) and other models to follow. FCA aims to turn Maserati and Alfa Romeo (along with Jeep) into global brands, broadening the narrow geographical appeal they have held until now.
In order to generate enough profit to support the rest of the group as Ferrari has, Maserati will need to find a way to increase its profit margins. Bloomberg reports that Ferraris command a 13-percent profit margin, and while the ten percent that Maseratis list for is still triple that of the FCA average, slow sales are forcing some dealers to offer deep incentives that cut significantly into that margin.