Maserati model explosion
Maserati is looking to expand its model range with the Levante SUV.
Maserati plans to increase its sales almost ten-fold in line with a model explosion that will see it launch a mid-sized sedan, performance-focused SUV and flagship sporty limousine, the Quattroporte.
Key to the plan is a range of new models that will see the price of entry almost halve to as little as $125,000 in a move not dissimilar to that of German rival Porsche when it introduced controversial new models such as the Cayenne SUV and Panamera four-door.
The Italian sports car maker plans to be selling 50,000 cars globally - and more than 1000 cars in Australia - by 2015 with the crosshairs clearly set on Porsche, but also targeting brands as diverse as Mercedes-Benz, BMW and even Lexus.
Maserati Kubang concept
Maserati Kubang concept
In Australia for media and customer events this week, Maserati's regional director of South East Asia and Pacific, Gaetano Marino, has revealed the brand's ambitious plans to embark on massive sales growth designed to broaden the brand's appeal and cement it as a more direct competitor to Porsche.
"In 2015 we will have 50,000 [sales]," he says.
Central to the plan to increase sales so dramatically is a range of six-cylinder engines - including a 250kW V6, 310kW twin-turbo V6 and a lower-powered diesel that could be one of the brand's best selling engines.
Maserati will also continue with its Ferrari-sourced V8 engines, which are renowned for a throaty roar and burble.
However, a hybrid or electric car is not currently on the radar.
"It's too early, but yes we are ready. The platform is ready to have it," says Marino.
The sales growth will begin with a planned tripling of sales in 2013 thanks to the arrival of the new Quattroporte, a car that arrives in Australia in September.
The first images of the new Quattroporte - planned to be the flagship of the heavily revised Maserati range - will be shown in early November before the reveal of the car at the 2013 Detroit motor show.
The new Quattroporte will be longer than some of the largest sedans on the market at 5.28 metres long.
Marino says it will be the largest car in its class, outstretching the likes of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7-Series and Porsche Panamera.
There will also be a smaller sedan that will revive the legendary Ghibli name with a smaller - but still sizeable - sedan to rival top-end BMW 5-Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Classes.
The most controversial new arrival for Maserati, though, will be the Levante SUV that is planned to rival the likes of the Porsche Cayenne.
To be built alongside the Jeep Grand Cherokee in the United States and share some components with the less fancied brand the Levante is a crucial arrival for a brand looking to expand.
Maserati Australia general manager Glen Sealey says the Levante will become the biggest seller for the brand locally.
"Australia has a big market for SUVs and it's a market we think we can attack and do quite well with," says Sealey.
"It's a segment that's continually growing ... there's a clear market shift."
Accompanying the sales increase will be three new dealers in Australia, bringing the total to eight.
Sealey says Maserati doesn't "want to walk away from our core brand".
"It's important for us that Maserati remains exclusive and at 1000 units a year in the Australian market it's a small percentage and it still remains one of the most exclusive brands."
Brushing off concerns that the new Maserati models will be slower than some of the current vehicles Marino says "we are in line with the competitors", quickly singling out Porsche as a prime rival brand.
Sealey says the brand will be "positioned above Mercedes-Benz" and other prestige marques.
He says Maserati's current range – the Gran Turismo, Gran Cabrio and ageing Quattroporte – currently compete in segments that account for about 1000 units in Australia.
By 2015 - and looking at today's market - he says that will expand to about 17,500 vehicles.
Australia is the seventh biggest market for the brand, with about 160 sales a year.
Those sales are more than Maserati's sales in its homeland, Italy, where a recent drop in sales of all top-end brands has seen the market slump substantially.