Dec. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Maserati, a Fiat SpA luxury brand, has found new life with the GranTurismo Convertible that drove sales up 48 percent in the U.S. this year through November.
Maserati sold a total of 1,717 vehicles in the U.S., including 558 of the four-seat convertibles since its introduction in March, according to Autodata Corp., a Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey-based researcher. The GranTurismo Convertible starts at $136,000, according to Edmunds.com, a website that tracks new car sales.
New models can “dramatically improve” exotic car sales, hurt last year by the economic downturn and the stigma of driving vehicles with six-figure price tags, said Rebecca Lindland, an analyst with IHS Automotive. U.S. Maserati sales plunged 49 percent to 1,275 in 2009, according to Autodata.
“Last year it was so socially incorrect to buy a vehicle like this,” Lindland, who is based in Lexington, Massachusetts, said in an interview last week. “Now you’ve got people saying it’s OK to buy something like a Maserati.”
Maserati, whose parent Fiat is based in Turin, Italy, said the GranTurismo Convertible has sold out in the U.S., resulting in waiting lists, according to the automaker’s website.
“We are pleased with the results this year,” Jeffrey Ehoodin, a Maserati spokesman, said in an e-mail last week.
U.S. sales of Maserati’s GranTurismo coupe and Quattroporte sedan haven’t rebounded to 2008 levels, when the brand’s sales totaled 2,510, according to Autodata. Sales of Volkswagen AG’s Bentley brand rose 2.6 percent this year through November to 1,233, while its Lamborghini brand fell 20 percent to 264. Sales of Fiat’s Ferrari increased 12 percent to 1,396.
U.S. Maserati Production
Maserati’s premium luxury segment is smaller than the broader high-end auto market. Fiat Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne, who also heads Chrysler Group LLC, has said a Maserati vehicle will begin production in 2012 at a plant in Detroit, where the Jeep Grand Cherokee is assembled.
Customers of the new Maserati convertible like the styling and handling, said Ken Gorin, chief executive officer and president of The Collection, a luxury car dealership that sells Maserati cars in Coral Gables, Florida.
“They love it because it’s special,” Gorin said in a telephone interview last week. “They love it because they can customize it.”
The dealership’s Maserati sales are up 60 percent this year, he said.
“When I saw it online, I just knew I had to have this car,” said Tony Casazza, an entrepreneur who lives in Clark, New Jersey, who owns a website called LANshack.com that sells cabling for computer networks. “Everything that I saw on the car was just so damn attractive that I just had to have it.”
He purchased the convertible in July.
“When I bought the car, I never realized what a life-changing experience it was going to be,” Casazza, 53, said in an interview last week. “Since I got the car, I’ve done so many social things, like for example, I joined the Maserati club and I was invited to the Columbus Day Parade” in New York City.
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