As someone who can remember Maserati being all but dead and buried in the early 1990s, I find it quite hard to get my head around the idea of Maserati shifting 50,000 cars a year by 2015. However, if you look at the business case with any conviction, it actually begins to make sense.
Why? Because the targets Maserati is setting itself aren’t, in fact, all that ambitious. By 2015 Maserati will have the following models on sale across the globe: the latest Quattroporte, a new BMW 5-series rival called the Ghibli, a Porsche Cayenne rival called the Levante plus, we now firmly believe, a mid-engined Porsche 911 rival based on the forthcoming Alfa Romeo 4C, which may or may not be called the GranSport.
Even if the much-valued Chinese market begins to flatline before 2015, this means Maserati will have four distinctly separate models to call upon, all of which will be as fresh as newly laid snow in terms of design appeal come 2015, and all of which will have the potential to do well.
The Quattroporte is virtually guaranteed to succeed in China, which is already Maserati’s second-biggest market after North America. The Ghibli, on the other hand, is bound to do well in North America to begin with and could even begin to appeal in China, too, if the average Chinese driver’s tastes shift slightly toward cars that aren’t always 100 feet long.
But it’s the Levante SUV that surely has the most potential to up-end the apple cart and deliver the best results for Maserati, not just in the United States but globally and especially in the Middle East. And that’s to say nothing of the much-mooted mid-engined sports car, which has the potential to pinch sales not just from the lower ranks of the Ferrari 458 Italia arena but from the higher end of the Porsche 911 market as well.
In light of which, Harald J Wester’s plan to sell 50,000 Maseratis every 12 months by 2015 doesn’t sound like hyperbole at all. "Put it this way," he said to me at the launch of the new Quattroporte last week. "If we don’t succeed, I’ll lose my job. And I have absolutely no intention of doing that."
So what do you think? Is he, are they (the Fiat brass) deluded in their intentions to increase Maserati’s output tenfold at a time when, in Europe at least, the beginning of the end feels like it might be just around the next corner?
Or does it make as much sense to you as it does to me, attempting to do something so bold, precisely at this point in time?