Emphasis on luxury & exclusivity to return under Manley’s reign.
Fiat-Chrysler may still be getting used to its new boss Mike Manley after the sudden & unexpected demise of Sergio Marchionne, but Manley is not taking it easy. The new CEO is set to bring sweeping changes to the management structure at the American-Italian conglomerate, and right wrongs that were previously perceived as just rights.
The focus is Maserati, and its current sales figures. It’s been in a bit of a plateau since mid-2017, and Manley reckons it’s down to positioning & management. Last year the company managed to sell almost 14,000 cars, and had targeted to move 75,000 cars this year. However, just 26,400 cars were counted by the end of September, meaning that even its downgraded target of 50,000 cars announced in June would likely go unmet.
Manley thinks that the link between Maserati & Alfa Romeo is to blame. By putting the two Italian firms together, he feels that the Maserati nameplate hasn’t been given the respectful berth the marque deserves.
“With hindsight, when we put Maserati & Alfa Romeo together, it did two things. First, it reduced the focus on Maserati, the brand. Secondly, Maserati was treated for a period of time almost as if it were a mass-market brand, which it isn’t, and it shouldn’t be treated that way.” — Mike Manley, CEO, Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles
Since taking over in July, Manley’s parted Alfa Romeo & Maserati have been separated, with the former pinned to Jeep and the latter standing on its own. Harald Wester, the man who ran Maserati from 2008 to 2016, has been restored as the brand boss while retaining his role as FCA’s chief technology officer. Wester quickly moved to pick-up Jean-Phillipe Leloup, Ferrari’s Central & Eastern European operations boss, and moved him into a new role as the head of ‘Maserati Commercial.’ As for North America, that’ll now be headed by Al Gardner, who concurrently handles the role of Maserati dealer boss in the same region.
Maserati desperately needs a kick in the backside product-wise, and while six new cars are promised by 2022 (comprising of the Alfieri coupe & convertible, an electric-vehicle, and an SUV above the Levante), there are no concrete dates or even a schedule for introduction. But that could change soon, as in the same analyst call, Manley said that he’s “expecting Harald [Wester] and his team to make some significant progress beginning in the second-half of 2019.”