Maserati's North American Dealer Boss Handed the Reins

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
maserati s north american dealer boss handed the reins

Maserati, a fairly opaque, Fiat Chrysler-owned brand that exists in the periphery of the mainstream luxury scene, has a new leader in North America.

Announced Monday, Al Gardner, head of dealer operations in the region, will take control of the marque from current Jeep boss Tim Kuniskis, who jettisoned his control of the Italian brand in an executive shuffling last month.

As reported by Automotive News, Gardner reports to Jean-Philippe Leloup, a transplant from Ferrari who now heads up an entity called Maserati Commercial. Freshly minted chief operating officer Harald Wester made the pick in Europe yesterday. Gardner will continue in his dealer boss role.

Before showing up in the Maserati portfolio in 2015, Gardner headed the Chrysler brand, overseeing the launch of the unfortunate, soon-to-be-axed 200 sedan.

Maserati, along with FCA’s other Italian premium marque, Alfa Romeo, is considered a strong contender for a spin-off, though late CEO Sergio Marchionne put those plans on the back burner. Neither brand was sufficiently mature enough to stand on its own two feet, Marchionne said earlier this year.

The brand’s newest model, the Levante, suffered from a botched 2017 launch that hampered sales. A production slowdown followed in February of this year. Shortly before his death, an outspoken Marchionne said the premium midsize SUV’s rollout suffered from a “very poor execution.

“I think we sucked at the launch of the Levante,” he added.

In the coming years, Maserati plans to go after the green sports car market with the electric Alfieri coupe and convertible.

[Image: Maserati]

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7 of 16 comments
  • NoID NoID on Nov 13, 2018

    As long as Maserati keeps borrowing architecture from the North American brands, I don't see how they can spin off as a separate company.

    • Kyree Kyree on Nov 13, 2018

      More than likely, Maserati wouldn't be an independent company without any resources. One of two things would happen: a) Maserati would get acquired by another large company. That company could be Asian or European. If that were the case, you'd see a slow phase-out of FCA technology and platforms as the parent automaker infuses Maserati with the cash to develop its own stuff. This is similar to what we saw with Volvo and Jaguar/Land Rover, when they split off of Ford. Both continued to use Ford engines and platforms for quite some time after PAG dissolved. It's also similar to what we'll see now that GM has sold Open and Vauxhall to PSA. Naturally, Opel and Holden are still using GM-based products, but you know PSA plans to transition that soon. Alternatively... b) Maserati would be spun-off as its own entity, but might continue to use FCA technology under license. FCA spun Ferrari off in this manner, generating plenty of cash. Many of the shares went to existing FCA shareholders, and it's unclear how much Ferrari is still tied to FCA behind the scenes, in terms of resources. Maseratis still use Ferrari-derived engines, after all. The thing is, Maserati isn't the profit house that Ferrari was.

  • Kyree Kyree on Nov 13, 2018

    If you compare FCA to VW Group, Maserati and Alfa Romeo make more sense. Alfa Romeo is going for the mainstream Audi market, whereas Maserati is attempting to be the Porsche of the lineup, in that it's more exclusive and leaning on a pedigree. Which is fine, but then cars like the 4C--which is being phased out--don't make a lot of sense. And Alfa Romeo probably has more relevance in the world of racing and motorsports than does Maserati.

    • Morea Morea on Nov 13, 2018

      "And Alfa Romeo probably has more relevance in the world of racing and motorsports than does Maserati." Both have glorious racing histories! However, beyond a few GT4 Gran Turismos and TCR Giuliettas FCA does not have the cash for a racing program for either. (And, no, slapping the Alfa name on a Sauber does not count!)

  • Dilrod Dilrod on Nov 13, 2018

    Yesterday, I saw a white one, just like the picture. I thought it was a Buick until I read the name on the back.

    • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Nov 13, 2018

      Yeah agree. I always thought that's how Buick would look like in the alternative Universe.

  • Ravenuer Ravenuer on Nov 14, 2018

    Love the portholes. Is this a Century or a Roadmaster?