It has been over ten years since we have heard about Alfa Romeo’s imminent reentry into the United States market. In an interesting twist of fate, the Fiat brand has actually launched before it. No one would have thought this at the beginning of the last decade, when Alfa’s relaunch was first being discussed.
Since then we have seen delay after delay. Last we have heard is a scheduled launch in late 2013 or early 2014. These delays have cost Fiat money. Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne realizes that Fiat needs a high-margin luxury brand to boost profits. He has big plans for Alfa, but along with those, Fiat is turning to Maserati.
A whole slew of new models are scheduled, with plans to boost global sales to 50,000 units. The larger 2014 Quattroporte, an upcoming crossover called the Levante (also known as a Kubang) and a smaller sedan to go against the Audi A6, BMW 5-series and Mercedes-Benz E-class. The Quattro’s update for 2014 made it a lot bigger so that it could have interior space to rival the Mercedes-Benz S-class. Maserati is hoping that will do the trick.
Marchionne thinks that the Quattroporte will be able to sell 13,000 units globally next year. That’s a tall order; Maserati sold 6,159 cars in 2011 and 2012’s number will come in well below that. That is not to say that the brand cannot be successful with a new SUV or smaller sedan. We think Maserati’s brand name and established image will give it a leg up versus Alfa Romeo. It is just too bad that the Quattroporte wasn’t more compelling. On the design front, we sure hope that the Ghilibi is far more engaging. A couple of renderings have floated around online that are very impressive. If priced right, the new sedan will sell well – just look at the Biturbo.