CELEBRATES 90TH ANNIVERSARY WITH SOLID FIGURES
, once synonymous with pace, classiness and all the other feature of the famous Italian temperament, was in the danger of becoming an extinct brand in the 1990s.Celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, Maserati
seems to be back in the game again, with new models, drastically increased production and a more aggressive marketing campaign.Alfieri Maserati founded the "Societa Anonima Officine Alfieri Maserati" in 1914 in Bologna, as a company specializing in cars for road competition.
Success came soon, as the first Maserati
, the Tipo 26, scored a win in its class at the Targa Florio in 1926, and in 1939, a Maserati
won the Indianapolis 500.The company moved to Modena, its current location, in 1936.By the 1970s, however, production numbers plummeted to a few hundred vehicles per year and the brand was going through a crisis induced by bad management and poor cash flow.In the wake of a series of lawsuits for poor quality and service, Maserati
retreated from the US market in 1990.
A GLORIOUS COMEBACK?When Fiat Auto SpA
in 1993, the Modena-based factory put out around 800 units annually and its standing was badly tarnished.Fiat
, a mass-market car supplier, was having difficulties managing a niche brand, a fact mirrored by Maserati's
corporate figures following the takeover.
Following an extensive overhauling process that spanned many years and ran up costs in the range of millions of euros, Maserati
appears to be steering itself back into the fast lane, rebuilding its once cultic following.The company expects sales to reach 4,500 cars this year and aims to increase annual unit output to 10,000 by 2007.The company launched four new models this year, including a limited and numbered series Spyder to commemorate the 90th anniversary, as well as a new version of the Quattroporte, the four-door luxury limousine.Marketing is also a focal issue in Modena.After an absence of over a decade, Maserati
re-entered America in 2002, which - the company hopes - will account for as much as 50% of overall sales by 2005.Aside from former markets, Maserati
is looking to conquer new ones as well, including Russia and China.Hungary is part of this expansion strategy, as an exquisite Ferrari/Maserati salon is scheduled to open in the Hungarian capital in mid-November this year.
THE NEW KID BEHIND THE WHEELThe latest move by Maserati
was to hire the former head of Ford Europe
, Martin Leach, as CEO in June this year; a development sure to have been greeted with enthusiasm by stockholders and fans of the brand alike.
plans with Maserati
are multifold and ambitious."We will change everything [within the company] eventually," Leach told Business Hungary.As a first step, he
intends to capitalize on the brand's exclusivity and the fact it sells relatively few cars."We must strengthen further the one-to-one relationship with our customers," Leach said.This shouldn‘t be too difficult for Maserati
, since nearly all their cars are sold and custom-tailored well before they roll off the assembly line.
produced 25 MC12 cars this year, a modified version of the racecar the company uses in the FIA GT Championship series.The cars sold in record time despite the fact they cost about EUR 700,000.This is in addition to 90 Spyders the company produced for its anniversary, which were showcased at the Paris Auto Show in September.Following in Porsche's footsteps to name but one manufacturer, Maserati
developed a sports-utility-vehicle (SUV) called the Kubang, which was presented at the Detroit Auto Show two years ago.
Leach justifies the expansive strategy of Maserati
by insisting that demand for luxury cars is on the rise worldwide.