Maserati plans to increase production of its Ghibli and Quattroporte luxury sedans by about 20 percent in a sign that parent Fiat SpA (F)’s upscale shift is starting to gain traction, people familiar with the matter said.
By September, the Italian manufacturer intends to boost weekly output at Maserati’s factory in the Turin suburb of Grugliasco to about 900 cars from 750, said two people familiar with the situation, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. The brand’s orders are on pace to increase to about 40,000 cars this year, more than doubling sales from 2013, they said.
“It’s another good indication that the Maserati strategy is successful,” said Gian Primo Quagliano, head of automotive research company CSP in Bologna, Italy. “Ghibli is sold at an affordable price compared with its BMW and Mercedes competitors and can leverage the ‘Made in Italy’ appeal.”
Fiat Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne is shifting the carmaker upscale with growth prospects limited for mass-market cars in Europe. The strategy to fill underused plants in Italy involves expanding the Maserati and Alfa Romeo brands to compete with Bayerische Motoren Werke AG and Volkswagen AG’s Audi and Porsche.
Buoyed by the new $66,900 Ghibli, Maserati posted record monthly deliveries of 3,068 cars in May, lifting sales through the first five months of this year to 12,512, said a Maserati representative, who declined to comment on future production plans. Maserati, which also makes the $102,500 Quattroporte and $126,500 Granturismo, delivered 15,400 cars in 2013.
Maserati will add two shifts every Saturday at the facility and reduce summer breaks to two weeks in August from the usual three, according to Vincenzo Aragona, an official with Italy’s Fismic union. Fiat also plans to move about 350 workers from its main Mirafiori plant in Turin to the Maserati facility, he said. Fiat and union leaders are scheduled to meet this week to discuss the plan, according to the Fismic and Fim unions.
Fiat’s upscale shift calls for rehiring thousands of Italian workers who have been furloughed following the financial crisis in 2008. The carmaker plans to invest 55 billion euros ($74 billion) to transform Maserati, Alfa Romeo and Jeep into global brands to increase net income fivefold over the next five years as part of its merger with Chrysler.
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