It has been an extremely busy 12 months for Maserati both globally and in Australia, and it looks like being even busier over the next few years as a range of new models enter showrooms.
Australia is an important market for the brand, a fact indicated by the recent visit of Umberto Maria Cini, managing director for Maserati General Overseas Markets, based in Dubai. Cini was in Australia to visit the expanding Maserati dealer network and spread the gospel according to the exclusive Italian brand.
Cini has been working with Maserati for a decade now and he’s seen a period of extensive growth, especially in emerging markets such as China and India. We listened in as Cini explained exactly where the legendary Italian brand is at in Australia.
Some highlights of the chat include Cini ruling out any future sub-Ghibli mid-sized car or sub-Levante small SUV, and confirmation that the company would indeed produce a next-generation GranCabrio towards the end of the decade alongside an Alfieri Spider.
Maserati has been kicking some goals recently
Maserati globally is at a historical turning point. In 2012, we sold nearly 6000 vehicles, in 2013 [15,400]. This year we are already ahead of that 2013 figure. We’re on track for a record year in 2014, that is for sure.
Our short to medium-term target is 50,000 vehicles globally, and then beyond that up to 75,000. We don’t want to become a large volume premium brand though. We will remain below the 100,000 vehicle mark which means we stay as an exclusive brand.
Not exotic, but definitely exclusive. and we will never exceed 75,000 vehicles globally.
How is Australia seen in the Maserati world?
Australia is our second biggest market in the region, and it sits at sales of more than double compared to last year at the same point. This is despite receiving the cars later than other parts of the region too. Network expansion within the market is key, and that allows the brand to grow.
Australia is definitely one of the main countries in the region and I always remember Australia in the top ten countries in the world since I joined Maserati.
What’s on the horizon in the coming years?
Limited edition GranCabrio and GranTurismo Centennial Editions will arrive toward the end of 2014. As you know, we have confirmed production of the new Alfieri also.
There will be new engines over the next five years with higher power, lower emissions and lower fuel consumption. The future is very bright. These new engines will be completely improved over the current generation.
There will be a new V6 with over 368kW, a new V8 with over 412kW and a new diesel with over 250kW. Most of the engines will also be available with 2WD and AWD options.
Is Australia also a strategic market?
Certainly in terms of volume and we definitely expect a lot from Australia. And even more so in the future. Australia is a long way away from Europe for sure, but the representation we have here is strong. The brand is positioned strongly in this part of the world.
How important is the Levante SUV in increasing sales?
Levante will be one of the main products that will help us achieve our growth targets. It won’t be the only one, but one of the main aspects. It could be our best seller, but we aren’t expecting that.
When does Levante come to Australia?
We expect that to happen within the next few years, a little later than originally planned. Right-hand-drive configuration will be worked on at the same time as left-hand-drive. We are working on reducing the time gap even more in terms of RHD development. Maserati won’t be able to compete with the German brands in terms of RHD expediency though.
What are your sales expectations for 2014 in Australia?
So far, sales are double where they were at the same time last year, without having the Ghibli in showrooms. The year will end for sure at least on the same level as last year.
What will we see released and in which order?
The next period will be extremely busy and by 2018 we will release Levante, Alfieri, Alfieri Spider, and finally new GranCabrio in that order.
Increased sales must have an impact on sales and servicing locally?
Yes, this is true, it is important to us to continue to look after our customers, both existing and new. Part of this is extending our service network to maintain pace with these increased sales. We’ve already done a lot and we intend to do more.
Communication is part of the process too. This year Maserati was part of the Superbowl advertising for example and this has never happened before. We are also working on our social media platforms to better interact with our customers.
Who are Maserati's competitors?
They vary depending on model. For example, Porsche is a competitor with some of our models, but in reality we compete with all of the luxury premium brands. It’s interesting in Australia that our top specification (and therefore most expensive) Quattroporte is our biggest selling model. We compete with everyone, but with different models.
Ghibli will compete for example with the 6 Series BMW Gran Coupe. We don’t target one specific brand though.
How do you see Maserati in a marketing sense?
Not just a car brand. It is a lifestyle brand. You can see that in the owners, the events, the car clubs, everything else that goes along with ownership. Being an Italian, stylish performance brand always goes along with the Maserati marque.
Can you see something smaller than either Ghibli or Levante?
Never, no. Definitely not. These are the smallest cars we will make.
How important is the historical Maserati DNA?
Extremely. And that won’t change. This is a vital element to your company. Our engines are produced in-house at Ferrari but exclusively for Maserati. No other company in the stable has access to our engines. After Fiat, we are the most historical brand in Italy and it is important that this continues. We are in Italian company that must maintain Italian passion in our DNA.
What are your thoughts on technology?
This is obviously an important part of any new vehicle and it is something we are very aware of at Maserati. The technology moves so quickly that we will always be looking at the best way to integrate this new technology into all of our cars.
Will Maserati change in Australia to set up its own distributorship like Ferrari did recently?
We are entirely comfortable with the arrangement the way it is now (with European Automotive Imports) and we don’t intend to change it. You can see the success of this arrangement in our record sales in Australia.