Maserati’s Profits to Recover with Levante SUV
According to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne, Maserati’s profits will recover when the brand launches its first SUV next year. The second-quarter of Maserati’s adjusted earnings fell by 30 percent to 43 million euros, according to parent Fiat Chrysler’s financial results. The brand’s global vehicle sales dropped by 13 percent to 8,281 as higher sales in Europe failed to offset falling demand in the U.S. and China. Marchionne said the launch of the Levante SUV in the first half of 2016 will boost Maserati’s earnings. “We need to wait until then,” he told analysts on a conference call.
Marchionne revealed that the brand is keeping a close eye on its product mix because an increasing shift to sales of the entry level Ghibli from the Quattroporte flagship hits profitability. Maserati’s second-quarter operating margin declined to 7 percent of revenues from 9.9 percent in the same quarter last year 2014 because of falling demand and also because the brand sold a higher proportion of the less expensive versions of its Ghibli and Quattroporte sedans. The Ghibli’s most popular model in Europe starts at 68,000 euros in Italy, while the most expensive Ghibli is 87,300 euros. An entry level Quattroporte starts at 98,000 with the top model costing 154,300 euros.
Fiat Chrysler Chief Financial Officer Richard Palmer unveiled that lower sales of the Quattroporte, particularly in China where shipments were down 37 percent. He said the brand’s shipments to North America declined by 5 percent while European volume was up 10 percent. Marchionne said decreasing demand for imported luxury vehicles in China looks like a permanent change in the market. Fiat Chrysler this month began pre-production of the Levante in its Mirafiori, Turin, plant. Full production starts in January and the SUV is expected to debut at the Detroit auto show in the same month. The Levante is based on the Ghibli platform. The price of the SUV is likely to start at more than 100,000 euros. The SUV will compete with the Porsche Cayenne, as well as the upcoming Bentley Bentayga and Jaguar F-Pace.