How To Rebrand Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles: Maserati
Explaining the Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles Problem
The merged company Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has issues. Long has the company not known what to do with the brands it owns, with the situation reaching critical mass in June of 2018. Some brands, like Maserati, got a plan that would turn the direction they were headed in for the better. Other brands got plans that would help continue or add on to their current success. However, the brands that you could arguably say matter the most, Fiat, Chrysler, and Dodge, didn’t get plans that would showcase and ensure their future; rather, these brands didn't get plans at all, laying even more seeds for their demise.
So this article is part six of an eight-part series, showcasing how I would position the brands the FCA owns to be better successful. Previously, I explained how to rebrand Alfa Romeo. Now in this article, I will particularly be focusing on the house of the Trident, Maserati.
Maserati Has Potential
Even though this article will solely be based on the American Market, it’s no small claim to say that Maserati is probably the only luxury brand capable of putting serious pressure on the current mainstream competitors without losing its unique flair. But why do I make such a bold claim, believing that Maserati is the chosen one in twenty-one? Simply put, Maserati is the only brand with a storied history people respect, the pedigree people want, and the elusive exclusivity BMW & Mercedes-Benz lack. It’s also in the brands favor that it is foreign and well known even to those who don’t know cars very well. Maserati also had the liberty of not being in the spotlight like say, Lexus or Cadillac, where brand reputation just isn’t where it used to be or should be currently. So Maserati is poised to seize the moment, they just have to set themselves up to do so and believe that they can do so. I’ve heard the FCA go over many a time talking about what they want to do with Maserati. The time for talking is over, it is time for doing. And to do so ambitiously.
Maserati's Marketing Strategies
Firstly, let’s talk about marketing strategies. Maserati is charging TOO much for their products. They should cut $10K off prices from what they currently are, which still keeps prices competitive. Lowering the price does not hurt the elusive air around the company either. They are still a low volume company, like Porsche, and yet do you see Porsche charging $77K for a base, entry-level Cayenne? Of course you don’t. Sure, Porsche charges more for their mid-sized SUV than BMW charges for the X5 or Mercedes-Benz charges for the GLE, but it’s not outrageously higher where it would make a potential consumer question should they buy the car or not. Maserati should not rely solely on the fact that their car is, in fact, a Maserati to get feet inside the dealership. Practice smart marketing.
The current Levante’s starting price is $76,980. Subtracting $10K from that leaves it at $66,980, $1,280 more than your current base Porsche Cayenne. Seems a lot more "reasonable".
The other thing is the Q4 AWD system should be an option for all trim levels, not used to make a trim level, a sin that the current Ghibli and Quattroporte abuse greatly. Maserati is losing money on something they could be a $7-10K option by including it as a trim level which doesn’t have much over the non-AWD version. It’s just something they should stop doing. And stop digging into the parts bin of lesser FCA brands. I’m paying for a Maserati, not a Chrysler TC by Maserati.
A New GranTurismo?
The showcase of change should be done with a bang. The Maserati GranTurismo is slated to be replaced with the much-rumored Maserati Alfieri sometime in the next two years. I feel that is a waste though.
Mercedes-Benz offers three convertibles/sports cars: the SLC, SL, and AMG GT. Maserati doesn’t want the Mercedes-Benz SL problem, so it should at least offer two convertible sports cars, a small BMW Z4 sized one and a larger one, sized dimensionally between the AMG GT and the Mercedes-Benz SL. With that established, the new 2021 GranTurismo & GranCabrio take their place as the smaller, 2+2 sports cars to rival the TT, 4C, Z4, Boxster/Cayman, F-Type, and previously aforementioned SLC in Maserati's two sport's car lineup. Available as a hardtop coupe and a soft-top Cabriolet, they are also good at Grand-Touring, like their name suggests, with major revisions done to improve interior quality over the previous generation. Powertrains include a Ferrari upgraded version of the Turbo 2.0L I4 in the Alfa Romeo Giulia, making 300 HP in this configuration. The 3.0L Twin-Turbo V6 is the only other available engine, with a slightly tuned 360 HP version and the regular 424 HP configuration, easily making this the most powerful car in its segment. Trim levels would be Sport, GranSport, and GTS.
The new GranTurismo also comes with two special high-performance limited run trim levels. The GranTurismo Trofeo uses a Ferrari-tuned 444 HP 3.0L Twin-Turbo V6. It’s a more performance oriented car but for the ultimate hardcore purist, there is the return of the GranTurismo MC Stradale. Offering the Twin-Turbo 3.8L V8 making 525 HP, the car would be a beast. Eventually, in 2023, the GranTurismo/Cabrio get a plug-in hybrid and all-electric trim levels.
For the all-electric trim range, Maserati plans to call these vehicles Blue. That’s boring, especially for an Italian brand. So we are going to give it a more, enticing, Italian name. The plug-in hybrid will be the new entry-level trim, the GranTurismo & GranCabrio Verde. Using a slightly tuned version of the 1.7L I4 found in the Alfa Romeo 4C & Fiat 124 Spider, it’ll have a 1.8L Turbo I4 making 250 HP. Mated to the hybrid system, it’ll have a complete system power of 260 HP.
Meanwhile, the GranTurismo/Cabrio Azzurra (Feminine Italian for Azure Blue) slots below the GTS trim, making 400 HP. A limited-production run AltaLusso trim also becomes the new range-topper, utilizing the 525 HP version of the 3.8L Twin-Turbo V8 in conjunction with the hybrid technology to make the ultimate luxury performance car with an output of 550 HP. Think of it like an ALPINA from BMW because that’s how rare these will be. The AltaLusso’s use what was previously called the GranLusso “series” and add onto it, incorporating the finest materials, autonomous technology and even Holograms. By the way, those “series”, GranSport & GranLusso, go away, with the GranSport becoming a trim level and the GranLusso becoming the AltaLusso trim level.
The new Maserati Levante and Ghibli should debut in 2022, sporting Pinafarina styling and the ability to be all-electric and plug-in hybrid capable. 50/50 weight distribution and heavy usage of aluminum should be employed, to make sure the vehicles have fluid handling. Interior quality gets a major improvement, with Maserati doing less dipping into the FCA parts bin and utilizing more of their own stuff. Powertrain wise, the transmission of choice will still be a ZF, but the engines are sourced from Ferrari. The starting trim level, the plug-in hybrid “Verde” will be available with a 1.8L Ferrari-sourced 260 HP I4 mated to a 10 HP hybrid system for complete system power of 270 HP. A Ferrari tuned 2.0L I4 making 300 HP is standard on the Sport trim, with an optional 3.0L twin-turbo V6 making 360 HP. A 400 HP, all-electric Azzurra trim level slots above it. A 490 HP twin-turbo 3.0L V6 is standard equipment on the Gransport trim level. The 3.8L twin-turbo V8 making 525 HP is also optional on the GranSport. The GTS trim utilizes the same 550 HP 3.8L twin-turbo V8 it currently does. The Trofeo also keeps its 590 HP version of its 3.8L twin-turbo V8. A new trim level, the Trofeo Evoluzione utilizes the 3.9L twin-turbo V8 out of the Ferrari 488 Spyder. Mated to a hybrid-system as well, the complete system power is 680 HP. A low-production run AltaLusso trim level, similar to how BMW makes ALPINA’s, slots as the range-topper, utilizing a tuned version of the 590 HP 3.8L twin-turbo V8 making 600 HP in this configuration. Technology and luxury are crammed into this car, with holograms being the main attraction. All safety features are standard. With that, the Ghibli and Levante are well positioned to be competitive for years to come.
But wait, there's more. The 2022 Maserati Shamal and Simun are introduced as, essentially, a Ghibli coupe and station wagon. These vehicles have a limited, 2000 car run, like the smaller Karif, with the Shamal coupe getting 1000 and the Simun station wagon getting 1000. It gets split up further, as the Shamal & Simun also get 250 cars per trim level (GranSport, GTS, Trofeo, and Trofeo Evoluzione) while sharing mechanical components with the Ghibli. The starting price is $76,480 for the entry-level Shamal Gransport with the standard V6. Starting price for the Simun GranSport with the V6 is $80,100. The 2022 Maserati Simun AltaLusso Edition is a limited run based on a limited run. Not included in the main 250 car run, this is a special 100 car-run that takes the Simun Trofeo Evoluzione trim and adds the AltaLusso luxury amenities to it. Price is $170,455.
The new vehicles slotting below the Levante and Ghibli are the Maserati Mistral, a BMW 3-series competitor, and the Maserati Bora, a BMW X3 sized CUV. Debuting in mid-2021 as 2022 model year vehicles, these cars are here to stretch out the lineup more. More Pinafarina styling is used here, while the cars are developed to be all-electric and plug-in hybrid capable. 50/50 weight distribution and high use of aluminum should be employed, to make sure the vehicles have fluid handling. Following the trim level strategy established with the Levante and the Ghibli, the base trim level is the Verde, utilizing a Ferrari-derived 1.8L I4 making 240 HP mated to a 10 HP hybrid system for 250 HP. The Sport trim utilizes a 280 HP I4, pulled straight from the Alfa Romeo Giulia. The all-electric Azzurra trim makes 355 HP. The GranSport utilizes a 3.0L twin-turbo V6, making 404 HP. The GTS trim level makes 480 HP out of a Ferrari-derived 3.0L twin-turbo V6. The Trofeo trim utilizes a 515 HP version of the same 3.0L twin-turbo V6. A Trofeo Evoluzione utilizes a 3.8L twin-turbo V8 making 550 HP, making it the only V8 on the lineup. Although there is no AltaLusso trim level available, there is a GranLusso package for those who want a bit more luxury. The base starting price for the Mistral is $47,789. The 2022 Maserati Karif returns as a revival of the Karif nameplate and to showcase what a two-door 2022 Maserati Mistral would look and perform like. Using the same engines as the Mistral’s GranSport, GTS, Trofeo, and Trofeo Evoluzione trim levels, the Karif will have a limited run 1000 car unit with 250 cars per trim level. Based on the Mistral, the starting price is $70K flat out for the entry-level Karif GranSport. The 2022 Maserati Karif Kyalami edition is a homage to the Maserati Kyalami and the Cooper T81 powered by a Maserati engine that won a Grand Prix on a track of the same name. This special edition takes a Karif Trofeo Evoluzione (not included as one of the 250) and gives it even more performance enhancements. Special colors that are only available on this car (they are also the only colors this car comes in) include French Racing Blue, Kyalami Red, Panther Black, Weaver Yellow, Mamba Green, and Iris White. Power does not increase but the price does at $140,000. Expect Porsche GT3 RS levels of performance.
Replacing an Icon of Italian Elegance...and Adding a New One!
The new Maserati Quattroporte gets joined by a seven-passenger SUV larger than the Levante. The new SUV, the Maserati Khamsin, also utilizes Pinafarina for styling and was developed from conception for having all-electric and plug-in hybrid capabilities. 50/50 weight distribution and high use of aluminum should be employed to make sure this SUV has fluid handling. The new Quattroporte also gets fluid handling capabilities and driving dynamics. Debuting in late 2021 as 2022 models, the interior of these vehicles are greatly improved, relying less on the FCA parts bin and more on their own engineers. The entry-level Verde trim level utilizes the 280 HP 2.0L I4, mating it to a plug-in hybrid system for 300 HP in complete system power. A Sport trim utilizes a 360 HP 3.0L twin-turbo V6. The GranSport trim utilizes a 3.0L twin-turbo V6 with 424 HP. The Azzurra all-electric trim makes 480 HP. The GTS trim uses the 3.8L twin-turbo V8 making 590 HP. From here, the Quattroporte and Khamsin take different routes on trim levels. The Trofeo trim for the Quattroporte utilizes the 680 HP 6.3-liter V-12 from the Ferrari GTC4Lusso. The Quattroporte has a limited-production AltaLusso trim, again, similar to how BMW has ALPINA, which utilizes the 3.9L twin-turbo V8 from the Ferrari 488 GTB mated to a plug-in hybrid system for 680 HP in complete system power. Holograms & loads of technology, as well as only the finest interior materials used and a stretched wheelbase, this is the ultimate saloon. The Khamsin, however, goes about the Trofeo trim in a different way. Targeting the Lamborghini Urus, the Khamsin Trofeo utilizes the 3.9L Twin-Turbo V8 making 660 HP. The Khamsin doesn’t get an AltaLusso trim but does get a GranLusso package.
More Subtle Changes
These new 2022 models will come just in time to grace new dealership showrooms. The FCA already plans to open up 32 more Maserati dealerships by 2022, taking the current number of 153 to 185 total dealerships. It also wouldn’t hurt Maserati to take some tips from Lexus about dealership quality. Opening up a place in New York, similar to how Cadillac has Cadillac house, (Call it Trident House) would also drive interest. The new lineup also means Maserati would reach its goal to top 100,000 units by 2022 as well. The Verde, Azzurra, and AltaLusso trim levels are to ensure the introduction of hybrid/ all-electric technology, as well as level 3 autonomy. While the FCA’s partnership with Waymo, BMW AG, and Aptiv Plc would mostly affect Chrysler (hopefully), the tech could be introduced on the high-tech Maserati’s. It’s already been established that the FCA will collaborate with Waymo on an autonomous-equipped premium-model, and that model should be the 2022 Maserati Quattroporte AltaLusso. Level 4 autonomous systems will be available on the Maserati’s around 2023, with the systems costing about 30K initially, eventually reducing to about 10K over time. The FCA will also launch a connectivity platform in April of 2019 that will be available on all new cars by 2021. The system is designed to integrate with any service provider. And while it will be intended to work with all FCA vehicles, Maserati should be used as the initial test bed. And with an eight-model lineup, Maserati will more than realize its goal of having eight plug-in hybrids and four fully electric vehicles, making it the perfect company to use as a testbed for such technology.
But wait for a minute Joshua, eight cars? You only went over seven. Indeed I did, introducing number eight, the Alfieri supercar. A 2+2 design that heavily uses aluminum and carbon fiber to reduce weight, it’s also a plug-in hybrid with a functioning EV mode. All the things usually included in the AltaLusso trim level is standard here, the Alfieri is the ultimate grand touring supercar, slotting above the now smaller GranTurismo/Cabrio. Coming in a drop top, Spyder model, as well as a hardtop coupe, the Alfieri boasts some impressive performance figures. A top speed over 200 MPH, impressive 0-60 and 60-0 times, quarter mile runs, name the figures and this car will do it all. But what is its heart? A Ferrari-derived 3.9L twin-turbo V8 making 717 HP out of the Ferrari 488 Pista and F8 Tributo. Mated to the hybrid system, the complete system output is 989 HP. The car debuts as a 2023 model at the Geneva Auto Show.
A Vision Of The Future?
This is Maserati though, the house of the Trident. The speed should not end here. And they should be aiming to revive a legacy. That legacy starts with road cars, specialty road cars. Aiming to now inject some excitement back into the brand after smashing successful milestones, Maserati should make a special edition Grand Tourer, capable of showing the world what Maserati is capable of. The 2008 A8GCS Berlinetta Touring Concept should be revived with modern Pinafarina styling cues for a production-ready finish. One design should be with Grand Touring in mind while the other is with performance in mind. The resulting cars are the 2023 Maserati A8GCS Berlinetta Touring with a focus on high-luxury grand touring and the 2023 Maserati A8GCS Superleggera GranTurismo, with more of a focus on performance. But what are the performance stats? The Berlinetta gets a Ferrari-derived V12 only making 680 HP from the GTC4Lusso. With more of a focus on luxury touring, that seems to be enough. If it’s not enough for you, take solace in the fact that this car is packed with technology, including a plug-in hybrid system that boosts power to 700 HP. The Superleggera, on the other hand, shares its engine with the Ferrari 812 Superfast, although tuning is done to it. The result is a 6.6L V12 making 800 HP, mated to an F1 transmission. The interior is luxurious, not as much as the Berlinetta’s but no one will be complaining, its way above your normal Maserati interior. Only 10 of each A8GCS will be made and they will be handmade. This results in the price of $6 million for both the Berlinetta and the Superleggera. But Maserati is not done.
With that established, let's jump forward a bit. In 2026, its time for the main Maserati lineup to get mid-model refreshes. With this refresh, we establish a new “Mario Opera d'Arte” special color lineup, similar to the “designo” special color line Mercedes-Benz has. It pays homage to one of the Maserati brothers while establishing some new custom colors for specific trim levels. Towards the end of the lifecycle for the current lineup, we introduce a limited-production run series for all the cars on the lineup. These series are called “The Carlo Series” and “The Bindo Series.” Named after two of the Maserati brothers, The Carlo series takes the GranSport trim level of a Maserati and adds aesthetic go fast bits to it as well as a custom color pattern that is usually used on GTS and above trims. Rims and suspension upgrades from the upper trim levels are also applied. The Bindo series does the opposite, taking the entry-level Verde plug-in hybrid trim and adding the engine from the Sport trim for more oomph. From there, it adds luxury amenities from the AltaLusso trim levels. These series should be deployed in the final years of the lineup. A great marketing strategy going forward.
The List Of Speed
Maserati should also follow in the footsteps of Ferrari with its own take on an Icons series, in which some will be road legal, some won't. In Maserati’s case, however, their series should encompass entirely original ideas, as well as ones based off of prior cars. Needless to say, these are all limited production, with each made by hand, giving a lot of special workers things to do. The first couple of cars should be:
- 2022 Maserati Tipo 60 & 61 Birdcage: Front-engined sports cars using modern Pininfarina styling, although heavily influenced by the original car. A heavily modified, Ferrari-tuned version of the Maserati 3.0L V6 should be used, making 606 HP in a “Hot V” twin-turbo setup. Price: $1.2 million, only 62 of each made.
- 2022 Maserati Tipo 63 & 64 Birdcage: Mid-engined supercars using Pininfarina styling to modernize the original. A Ferrari-derived V12 making 680 HP is the base of this car. Price: $1.8 million, only 66 of each made.
- 2022 Maserati Tipo 65 Birdcage: Mid-engined, lightweight supercar. Uses Pininfarina styling to modernize the original car. Utilizes a tuned version of the 3.8L Twin-Turbo V8 out of the Maserati Levante Trofeo to make 626 HP. Price: $1.4 million, only 65 made.
- 2023 Maserati Tipo 75 Birdcage: A Mid-engined Hypercar based off the Maserati Birdcage 75th Concept. Use Pininfarina to give it more modern, production styling. It’ll use a Ferrari-derived V12 mated to a regenerative hybrid system for 1,600 HP. Price: $2.6 million dollars, only 75 made.
- 2023 Maserati Barchetta Stradale: Sadly, this would be Europe only as it would never pass regulations in the U.S. This lightweight streetcar is based off a race car from 1992. A mid-engined speedster, it’ll use a heavily modified, Ferrari-tuned version of the Maserati 3.0L V6 should be used, making 606 HP in a “Hot V” Twin-Turbo setup. Price: $500,000, only 200 will be made.
- 2023 Maserati Barchetta Corsa 350S: Based off the 350S race car from the late ’50s, it’ll incorporate modern Pininfarina styling and Ferrari’s race proven tech. Using a 600 HP version of the 3.8L Twin-Turbo V8, it’ll cost $800,000 and only 50 will be made.
- 2023 Maserati GranTrofeo 450S: Based off the 450S race car from the late ’50s, it’ll incorporate modern Pininfarina styling and Ferrari’s race proven tech. Using a 710 HP 3.9L Twin-Turbo V8 from the Ferrari 488 Pista, it’ll cost $800,000 and only 50 will be made.
- 2024 Maserati Merak: a modern take on the 1972-83 Maserati Merak. Powered by a 600 HP 3.8L Twin-Turbo V8, it’ll be mid-engined but small. About the size of a McLaren 570S. Costing $315,000, only 500 will be made.
- 2024 Maserati 151 & 154 Tipo: Front-engined supercars with Pininfarina designs. The fronts look the same, but the backs are designed differently. Both take a more two-door shooting brake approach to design, like the Ferrari GTC4Lusso. A Ferrari-derived V12 is used, making 800 HP. Price starting at $350,000, only 156 of both will be made. A more track oriented RC version will be made of the 154, with the RC standing for Racing Van.
- 2024 Maserati Chubasco: Taking the 1990’s concept and bringing it into the present with Pininfarina styling, this is a mid-engined supercar powered by a Twin-Turbo, 4.0L V8 making 808 HP. Only 200 will be made with a starting price of $400,000.
- 2025 Maserati MC12 Stradale: We all already know what this is. Mid-engined, 880 HP Bi-Turbo V12. A price tag of 1.8 million. For those seeking a bit more craziness, there’s an MC12 Corsa with a hybrid system that makes a complete system output of 1,000. A price tag of $2.4 million for that one. And for the absolutely insane, a somehow still street-legal MC12 Competizione that makes 1,512 HP. A price of $4 million for that version. Only 600 will be made, with only 200 of each version being made.
- 2026 Maserati Avernus: A mid-engined supercar of extreme extreme’s, the Avernus is powered by a Twin-Turbo 4.0L V8 making 800 HP and a hybrid-system for 888 HP. Straight-line speed and lap times are what this car is for. It achieves these goals by incorporating a version of the Q4 AWD system, unique to this specific car, which activates at launch and in corners for grip. Otherwise, it’s an RWD car. Utilizing a 2+2 layout and a carbon fiber monocoque, the Avernus will sell for about $2 million, with only 100 being made, fitting for such radical styling by Pininfarina.
- 2026 Maserati Ettore: A front-engined grand-touring supercar using the Avernus’s engine and the hybrid system in a slightly different layout, there is more of a focus on luxury but that does not hurt the car's performance. Pays homage to one of the Maserati brothers as well.
- 2027 Maserati Ernesto Sedici Cilindri: A Mid-engined, V-16 hybrid hypercar. Styled by Pininfarina, this car has long-range capabilities and stage 4 autonomous tech. Holograms included. The performance is blistering with 2,000 HP being sent to all four wheels through a custom Q4 AWD system.
A Return To Mainstream Racing
But that’s all road use, let’s talk about racing. Maserati should make a return to mainstream racing, a return to F1, joining its Ferrari and Alfa-Romeo staple mates. Creating a racing division, similar to how Ferrari has Scuderia Ferrari, we introduce Trident Racing by Maserati. That Formula 1 return should happen in the 2022 season, with the cars name being a homage to the Maserati Formula 1 cars of the past. The Maserati M.4CLT will be the Formula 1 car for the team going forward. Maserati should join Formula E in 2022 with their car being called the MTR Tipo 26, as a homage to the Tipo 26 Grand Prix car. Every year the car should be updated with new tech and a new name. Here’s what I mean by that:
- 2023: MTR Tipo B26
- 2024: MTR Tipo R26
- 2025: MTR Tipo M26
- 2026: MTR Tipo V4.26
- 2027: MTR Tipo 4CL.26
- 2028: MTR Tipo CM6
- 2029: MTR Tipo CM8
- 2030: MTR 8C 2800
- 2031: MTR 8C 3000
It’s pretty clear, you guys get the point. The Formula E cars pay homage to the Grand Prix cars of the past while paving the future. The Formula 1 car also gets a new name in 2026, the M.250F.
With these plans, Maserati is poised to seize the moment. The only question is: will Maserati indeed seize that moment? The future is grim and unwritten and reality is often disappointing. I thank all of you for reading this article, my next one will be on Lancia.
© 2019 Joshua Nightshade