In an effort to return Maserati to its former glory, this month the Italian auto maker showed off its first all-electric SUV and coupe in separate virtual events, and announced its intent to sell only electric vehicles by 2030.
The 107-year-old company, now under the Stellantis umbrella, has been dogged by aging products and declining sales, problems Maserati is now tackling with fresh investments to create a stream of new vehicles and pivot to EVs.
Folgore – the Italian word for lightning – will denote all of Maserati’s upcoming battery-electric vehicles, the first of which will be the attention-grabbing GranTurismo Folgore coupe, arriving in 2023. With “way over” 1,200 horsepower, three independent electric motors, and a 0-100 kilometer per hour time in the low two-seconds, Maserati appears eager to tempt customers away from Tesla’s delayed second-generation Roadster. The Maserati will also be available as a convertible, called the GranCabrio Folgore.
The brand’s second electric model, the compact Grecale Folgore SUV, is slated to hit Canadian showrooms in fall 2023. The company gave no information on price or driving range, but did confirm the SUV will have a large 105 kilowatt-hour battery pack and a substantial torque output of 590 lb-ft. More important for the brand’s revival effort is the fact the Grecale is pitched at the booming compact luxury SUV market, an arena in which Maserati has never before competed.
“It is a fast growing segment,” said Francesco Palermiti, global product planner for Maserati. He expects the compact luxury SUV market to grow by 60 to 70 per cent in the coming years, with sales in the segment eventually reaching more than 500,000 units worldwide
Before the electric SUV arrives, the all-new Grecale will first be offered later this year as a gas-powered SUV. Initially, drivers will get a choice of two internal-combustion engines: a two-litre turbocharged motor assisted by a 48-volt mild-hybrid system, or a three-litre twin-turbo V6 similar to the one found in the brand’s MC20 supercar . The price for the base-model Grecale GT will be $75,200, right between the larger $97,690 Maserati Levante SUV and the $53,690 Alfa Romeo Stelvio.
In the US, these SUVs are purchased as second or third vehicles, while in Europe they are family cars, and in China they appeal to new luxury consumers, Palermiti said.
The Grecale shares its basic platform with the sweet-handling Stelvio, but the Maserati is larger, with a wheelbase stretched by 83 millimeters in order to offer additional cargo capacity and interior space, Palermiti said. It will have more legroom for rear-seat passengers than the Porsche Macan or Range Rover Velar, he added. Maserati will be competing head-to-head with the Macan, as well as high-performance versions of the Mercedes-Benz GLC and the BMW X3.
Originally planned for last year, Maserati had to delay the unveiling of its new SUV. “Supply chain interruptions delayed the Grecale prototype quality testing and the Grecale’s unveil,” Bill Peffer, CEO of Maserati Americas wrote in an email. “However, this delay has not impacted our future plans for other models.”
By 2025, every Maserati – including the MC20 supercar, the next-generation Quattroporte sedan, and the next-gen Levante – will be available as a fully electric vehicle. Notably absent from the plan is Maserati’s existing mid-size Ghibli sedan, which is widely rumored to be discontinued after the 2023 model year. By 2030, the brand is aiming to phase out gas-powered cars completely, although whether that happens or not will surely depend on consumer demand.
The success of Maserati’s new Grecale – and of Maserati’s Folgore electric models – will be crucial to turning around the brand’s declining sales, which peaked in 2017 at roughly 50,000 units worldwide. Before the pandemic, sales were down to 26,000 vehicles in 2019, and dropped again to 17,000 in 2020. Last year, global sales finally bounced back almost to prepandemic 2019 levels.
The brand’s revival has been a long time coming. As a part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Maserati struggled to get the investment it needed. Now under the Stellantis ownership, the Italian brand has committed to spending around 800-million euros ($1.12-billion) to create a new production line for the Grecale and launch 10 new or revised models between 2020 and 2023, all of which will be designed and built in Italy. Across its 14 brands, Stellantis plans to invest 30-billion euros ($42-billion) through 2025 to electrify its entire lineup.
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