MILAN — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' slumping Maserati business has become a headache for new CEO Mike Manley after the brand's profitability and vehicle sales went into a steep slide. Manley has blamed the luxury unit's problems partly on mistakes that had it managed "almost as if it were a mass-market brand."
Maserati's adjusted earnings before interest and taxes plunged 87 percent to €15 million ($17.2 million) in the third quarter. The brand's global vehicle shipments fell 19 percent to 8,800, while its profit margin dropped to just 2.4 percent from 13.8 percent in the same quarter last year.
The brand's targets are a 14 percent margin for this year and 15 percent in 2022.
FCA's decision to bundle Maserati with its Alfa Romeo marque under a single leader was a mistake, Manley told analysts on the automaker's third-quarter earnings call in October.
"With hindsight, when we put Maserati and Alfa together, it did two things. Firstly, it reduced the focus on Maserati the brand," Manley said. "Secondly, Maserati was treated for a period of time almost as if it were a mass-market brand, which it isn't and shouldn't be treated that way."
Last month, FCA named its chief technology officer, Harald Wester, who previously led the brand from 2008 until 2016, to head Maserati. Wester "has a good understanding of the luxury market and a deep understanding of Maserati as a brand," said Manley.