Maserati starts a new era with the 630-horsepower MC20

Bloomberg September 10 | Updated on September 10, 2020

The new sports car of Italian luxury vehicle manufacturer Maserati, the Maserati MC20   -  AFP

Company plans steady stream of new models and electrified powertrains

It’s fitting that the Maserati getting a cameo in the latest James Bond film isn’t its new supercar, but a 1990s model careening off a big bump in the road.

Aging product has dogged the luxury division of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, leading to a sales collapse and costly writedowns. But the title of the Bond film —No Time to Die — might as well be the mantra for Maserati and the new model its banking on to breathe life into the brand.

Maserati is billing the 630-horsepower MC20 as the start of a new era, with Fiat Chrysler Chief Executive Officer Mike Manley pledging a steady stream of new models and electrified powertrains in the coming years. Its fortunes also figure to get a boost from its parents planned merger with Frances PSA Group, which lacks a premium brand with comparable heritage and potential cachet.

Designed and manufactured in Modena, Italy, a short drive from Ferrari NVs headquarters, the MC20 weighs in at less than 1,500 kg (3,307 pounds) and will be powered by a new engine dubbed Nettuno, the first that Maserati has developed in-house in more than two decades. Pricing in Italy starts at about €216,000 ($255,000) and production is slated to begin late this year.

Lightweight as it may be, the MC20 carries a heavy burden. Maserati sold only about 7,000 cars worldwide in the first half, down 48 per cent from the same period a year ago. After setting a goal two years ago to be delivering 100,000 units and making a 15 per cent profit margin by 2022, shipments were going in the wrong direction before plummeting as a result of coronavirus pandemic. The division lost €174 million ($205 million in the first half of the year.

As a supercar, the MC20 isn’t likely to be a major volume contributor, but it will have some help. Maserati rolled out refreshed versions of the Quattroporte saloon and Levante sport utility vehicle the last two months along with its first electrified model, a mild hybrid version of the Ghibli sedan.

The amount of money Maserati was losing before its latest turnaround bid was manageable because Fiat Chrysler had been raking in money off Jeep SUVs and Ram pickups in North America. But the €439 million of net revenue generated in the first half of the year is a rounding error relative to other premium players. Daimler AGs Mercedes-Benz cars and vans unit brought in more than €42 billion, while BMW AGs automotive operations mustered almost €33 billion.

Published on September 10, 2020

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