MILAN – The Maserati MC20 supercar, revealed this week, is a crucial part of parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s efforts to revive its premium vehicle strategy ahead of an expected merger with PSA Group.
With 621 hp, the $230,000 MC20 is Maserati’s most powerful series production car. It is part of a parade of new vehicles planned between now and 2023 to bolster FCA’s presence in the global high-end auto market, where Maserati is competing with among others, Porsche, Ferrari, Aston Martin Lagonda, and even Tesla’s electric Model S.
The MC20 will launch as a coupe with an internal combustion engine, with convertible and full-electric versions coming.
Maserati is likely to play a crucial role in Stellantis, the new group stemming from the planned merger of FCA and PSA. The joint portfolio has no other global luxury brand, although top-of-the-line Jeep and Ram truck models that sell for luxury vehicle prices in North America.
PSA CEO Carlos Tavares, who will head Stellantis, has said he sees no need to scrap any brands after the merger.
"I can imagine Tavares actually being quite keen on having the likes of Maserati as part of the wider group," IHS Markit analyst Ian Fletcher said.
Mike Manley, CEO of FCA, has been investing in Maserati despite the brand's poor performance. Maserati reported a 199 million euro ($235 million) operating loss in 2019, as shipments plunged 45 percent worldwide.
In the second quarter of 2020, hard hit by the COVID-19 epidemic, Maserati's operating loss totaled 99 million euros ($117 million), shipments fell by 52 percent and margins shrank by 54 percent.
Still, Manley has stuck to a multiyear plan to resurrect the brand, which would give FCA a foothold in the lucrative global luxury vehicle segment if the company can find the right combination of style, technology and performance to compete against Tesla, the German luxury brands and Ferrari.
FCA said last year that Maserati would get a significant portion of 5 billion euros ($5.9 billion) planned for investment in Italy through 2021.
"We are now getting to the point where those investments will begin to hit the marketplace," Manley said in July. "My expectation ... is that we'll begin to see some solid progress on that front in Q4, which will continue as we get through to 2021."
Maserati earlier this year launched a hybrid version of its Ghibli luxury sedan, and plans to launch a new SUV and redesigned GranTurismo and GranCabrio models by the end of 2022.