Another day, another flip-flop on future product plans over at Casa di Marchionne. The latest news comes from Italian unions, who claim that the Maserati Levante will be built at the Mirafiori plant in Italy, rather than at Jeep’s plant in Detroit.
All it took was one little article in CAR magazine for the auto blogosphere to light up with a million different re-purposed versions of the same report. And what a joyous bit of news it is; Alfa Romeo is going to be rear-drive only from now on.
We decided to run the piece because it comes from Georg Kacher, a respected journalist who is known for having his finger on the pulse of the industry. If he says Alfa is planning to move to rear drive platforms, they probably are. But the big problem is that they are planning it. Nobody said anything about actually doing it.
It’s a thing in China: You don’t get the car service you expect, and instead of waiting for the J.D. Power questionnaire, you hire thugs with sledgehammers. Not to beat the dealer to pulp. No, to smash your car in front of a lot of cameras. It so recently happened to a Maserati Quattroporte. According to Carnewschina, the owner of the car (starting at 423,000 USD in China) disagreed with the dealer over a $390 repair. After a flurry of letters, the car was smashed. (Read More…)
TTAC alum Justin Berkowitz, over at Car and Driver, reports that a government crackdown on tax cheats has resulted in the Italian market for Italian supercars tanking. Ferrari sales went down 50% from 2011 to 2012. Maserati’s Italian sales have dropped 80% since 2009. Lamborghini is apparently selling no more than five cars a month in all of their home country.
Maserati was supposed to debut their smaller Ghibli sedan at the Shanghai Auto Show, but the pictures have managed to surface prior to that. Not that it’s such a big shocker; it looks just like a slightly smaller Quattroporte. Powertrains will be limited to turbocharged six cylinder engines using either gas or diesel engines, mated to an 8-speed automatic engine. Ten points for anyone with enough of a sense of humor to affix “Biturbo” badges to the car. All-wheel drive will also be available.
Remember all that hype about how a Detroit-area Jeep plant would be building the Maserati Levante SUV, for export back to Italy? Yeah, me either.
Maserati will be lending a hand to baby bro Alfa Romeo when the brand launches its 4C sports car in 2013. Having previously been tasked with production of the ultra-low volume 8C, Maserati will handle the annual assembly of the 2,500 4C coupes, that will supposedly serve as a halo for Alfa’s U.S. re-launch (stop me if you’ve heard this one before).
Dan Neil says the Maserati Biturbo is one of the worst 50 cars of all time, but I still see Biturbos in the junkyard every year or so. This probably means that Biturbo owners cling to their dead, hopeless project cars for decades before reality— in the form of angry landlords and/or spouses and/or homeowners’ associations— summons the tow truck. (Read More…)
It’s no secret that Ferrari has been wrestling with the inevitable conflict between its bellowing V12s and European emission regulations, but that’s not the only challenge facing the Prancing Horse’s powertrain division. Sure, there’s the increasingly-tenuous link between the Scuderia’s Formula One technology and its road cars [sub], but in the short term that actually helps the emissions issue by creating a pretext for bringing KERS to the road (where it otherwise has little role). In fact, the real issue for Ferrari’s powertrain team is not even a “Ferrari issue” at all, but a Maserati issue.
In the annals of poorly-chosen songs, this one is right up there with the State of New Jersey’s almost-decision to make Springsteen’s “Born To Run” the state song. Yes, Maserati, you can do anything, you can be anyone… and you’re choosing to be the brand that pimps upgraded Grand Cherokees by invoking the ghost of Fangio over crappy power-pop. Do you really want to be reminding viewers that this is a conscious choice, picked from an infinite range of options? Because that kind of willful douchbaggery makes you, Maserati, look like you’re a half-step from becoming the official luxury brand of Jersey Shore.
While Fiat-Chrysler revives its Lancia brand by rebadging new Chrysler models with few other modifications, it’s attacking Maserati’s aging product lineup with a similar but more subtle strategy. Automotive News [sub] reports that the current Quattroporte has a problem
The car is too big to be a compelling driver’s car, but too small – particularly in terms of rear legroom – to serve as a good chauffeur’s car.
Luckily, according to the report, there’s an easy solution:
The problem will be resolved by offering two cars – a “baby” Quattroporte, code-named M157 and a larger Quattroporte, code-named M156.
The new flagship model will continue to use a Ferrari-sourced V8, and presumably an evolution of the current model’s underpinnings, extended by 70 mm to 5170 mm, or 203 inches… about the length of the forthcoming Cadillac XTS. The smaller version, on the other hand, is going to be a case study in the ever-evolving art of balancing shared components and premium differentiation.
When Fiat started to get a grip on Chrysler, there was very little chance of success. But to be fair, they are making a go of it. Sergio Marchionne is doing his best to integrate Fiat and Chrysler. Is he really? (Read More…)
Bloomberg reports that Ferrari workers walked off the job for four hours yesterday, in protest of planned job cuts and production idling. Ferrari has announced that it plans to eliminate 120 office jobs and 150 production jobs, or nearly ten percent of its workforce. The Italian sportscar firm has also said it will put 600 workers on a week-long furlough next week, as it idles production of engines for its sister brand Maserati at a Maranello plant. Last year, Ferrari built about 4,500 engines for Maserati, about half of the 2008 number, as sales of the brand fell.
As the Beijing motor show draws to an end on Monday, the cars on display will be rolled on car carriers and shipped back home. All except for 40 luxury cars with a combined value of $22m. They have been snapped-up at the show, they will remain in China, and their makers can save the money for the long trip home. (Read More…)