Maserati bets on SUV in China
To revive sales, the Italian company is launching new models
The Italian luxury brand Maserati has just launched its first sports utility vehicle (SUV) model in China attempting to revitalize sales in a market that is slowing down. As Mirko Bordiga, managing director of Maserati China, explained to the Hong Kong daily South China Morning Post, the new SUV model Levante is expected to "drive Maserati China sales to double-digit growth this year, [...] targeting current Maserati owners and other affluent Chinese."
The one of Maserati in China used to be a success story: even though when it first entered the mainland market more than a decade ago it sold fewer than 40 vehicles in its first year, in 2014 China emerged as Maserati's second largest market as sales of its models. That year 9,400 vehicles were sold, registering a more than 100 per cent increase from 2013.
After that, both the economic slowdown and Xi Jinping's corruption crackdown had a negative impact on Maserati sales figures in China. According to Bordiga, many of Maserati costumers have two cars in their garages and normally the other one is a SUV. And this is the reason why the Italian company has decided to target "a new group of people who need a spacious SUV as a family car. [...]Last year, about 132,000 cars in the luxury SUV segment were sold in China, I think we can grab a few thousands from this market with the Levante".
Maserati is not the only brand that is suffering in China. According to South China Morning Post, "popular premium brands such as Germany's Audi saw a 1.4 per cent drop in sales last year, its first decline in 26 years, while BMW's sales growth slowed to 1.7 per cent. Maserati's total sales last year fell 4.1 per cent to 31,500 as demand weakened in its two largest markets, US and China, the brand's owner Italian carmaker Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said in its annual results announcement. With about 7,000 cars sold in China, its market share dropped to 22 per cent last year from 25 per cent in 2014".
Maserati has good reasons to be optimist: when it first tested the market last March selling its first 100 Levante cars online, they sold out in 18 seconds. Normal sales will begin at the end of July, and hopefully the Italian company will be able to experiencing other extraordinary sales records.