Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is hoping Maserati will help fill the void left by Ferrari after the storied exotic automaker is spun off in an IPO later this year, Automotive News reports. The long-time auto exec says Maserati will become “the most coveted, exclusive brand,” Fiat Chyrsler has after Ferrari is sold, making its future success especially important for the auto conglomerate.
Ferrari’s strong profits have helped fund Fiat Chrysler’s numerous other brands such as Fiat and Chrysler as of late, but following the Ferrari IPO, that burden will fall upon Maserati. To help the brand along, Fiat Chyrsler will grace it with a new SUV and coupe, in addition increasing dealership presence all over the United States.
Helping Maserati’s case is its overall image. The brand has built a strong reputation over the years for producing slightly less flashy but similarly exciting sports cars to its close relative Ferrari. The brand more than doubled sales to 36,448 units in 2014 following the introduction of its entry-level Ghibli sedan, however sales had fallen 9 percent as of April of 2015.
The sudden lag in sales has forced dealers to offer steep incentives on the Ghibli, with discounts reaching as much as $9,602 in May. Analysts believe the steep incentives have had an effect on how consumers perceive the Maserati brand, which has contributed even more to the sales lull. Now Fiat is faced with the task of broadening Maserati’s model selection without losing its classically cool likeness.
Luckily for Marchionne, Maseratis currently command an impressive 10 percent profit margin, three times more than Fiat Chyrsler as a whole. If sales can turn around, the brand might just be enough to replace Ferrari as the financial backer of much of the Fiat brand. That trident-badged SUV can’t come soon enough, can it, Sergio?