17 May 2004

A major reshuffle at the top of the Ferrari Maserati Group means Formula 1 team boss Jean Todt will become managing director of Ferrari, Briton Martin Leach becomes chief executive officer of Maserati, while Amedeo Felisa, formerly head of Ferrari’s passenger car division, becomes deputy managing director.

Overall boss Luca di Montezemolo remains president and CEO of the group, but will take more of a back- seat role now that he is president of Confindustria, a confederation representing 25 per cent of Italian industry. According to Leach, these four will meet ‘all the time,’ but di Montezemolo’s role will largely be confined to ‘major strategic decisions.’

One of Leach’s main tasks will be to help Maserati reach its mid-term goal of 10,000 sales. ‘To grow by a factor of five is a huge challenge,’ he said. Further into the future he believes that ‘Maserati has great potential to grow,’ though he is ‘not underestimating the challenge. With today’s premium brands becoming more like volume brands, an über-premium sector has the scope to develop.’

Leach reckons there’s an opportunity for Maserati to develop new ranges beneath the supercar segment, providing a stepping-stone from BMW and Mercedes to the territory occupied by sister brand Ferrari. This almost certainly won’t be with the Giugiaro-designed Kubang SUV, which Leach said the company ‘has decided not to go forward with.’ Other sources from the company suggest that Maserati will enter the SUV market, but with another design.

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Of Maser’s much-publicised link with Audi, Leach said he is ‘not sure how concrete this is. Some Audi people are not so keen, but [VW boss] Bernd Pischetsrieder is.’

Not surprisingly, Leach, who starts on 1 June, is unwilling to give his verdict on the arrangement, or how Maserati might proceed in the longer term. ‘But the first priority is to get the Quattroporte moving,’ he said. The company’s all-new luxury saloon is currently going on sale across Europe.

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