With PSA in charge can Maserati finally flourish

French group boss Carlos Tavares has a knack for getting the best out of brands.

Maserati’s suggestion that it will be able to lift annual production from today’s 30,000 units to around 100,000 in two years’ time is par for the course for the old Italian brand, soon to be part of the PSA Group stable.

Predicting far-fetched sales increases is part of Maserati’s heritage. Back when it launched the current Quattroporte, I attended a bullish presentation in Italy where they also forecast the arrival of the Ghibli saloon and Levante SUV and talked big numbers that would only be half-achieved.

There are two fascinating differences this time.

First, all-seeing PSA chief Carlos Tavares will ultimately propel both this plan and its execution, which means it’s not daft and that Maserati’s bosses will strain every sinew to reach the targets. Tavares, anything but aggressive, has a unique way of encouraging people to do their best.

Second, Maserati is embracing electrification across the board: it plans to launch plug-in hybrid saloons, turn the Granturismo and Grancabrio electric and then take a long step further with a battery-powered version of the MC20.

The quality of execution of any new Maserati really matters: the firm hasn’t done true justice to its exalted image for years – since before the Biturbo of 1981, I’d say.

As with Alfa Romeo, this underperformance hasn’t yet made any material difference to the mystique of the name or the anticipation of great future cars, but consumers’ patience isn’t endless.

Maseratis have always sold on Italian character generated primarily from styling, sound and driving qualities. Without PSA overseeing things, I’d be concerned about another helping of not-quite-good-enough. But when the car industry’s second great Carlos (even greater now than the disgraced Carlos the First) has his hand on the tiller, it’s legitimate to hope that greatness can return.

Steve Cropley

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