Maserati explodes its margins
Since the launch of the Levante SUV, the Italian luxury car manufacturer Maserati (part of Fiat Chrysler Automotive or FCA) registers record sales and explodes its profit margins.
In fact where the FCA group as a whole has difficulties (regressing sales for Chrysler and Fiat, Magneti-Marelli still to be sold…), some parts of it are doing well. We’re talking about Jeep and Alfa Romeo in the first place, but it’s luxury car maker Maserati that stands out.
In 2017 Maserati recorded a 22% increase in sales, totaling 51.500 cars, an absolute record. Turnover increased with 17% to 4,058 billion euro. The operational profit rose even faster to 560 million euro (+ 65%).
The trident brand augmented its operational margin with 4 points to 13,8% and is approaching Porsche (17,4% in 2016). This way Maserati confirms its position among the luxury car manufacturers, a step above the so called premium brands like Audi, BMW and Mercedes that turn around 8,5 to 10%.
SUV is the chicken with the golden eggs
It’s the launch of the Levante, a 5 metre long, big SUV, that has made the actual success of Maserati. Since it debut at the end of 2016 more than 50% of Maserati sales are Levantes. In its wake another smaller SUV is coming, but not before 2020, the company doesn’t want to go too fast.
Since Maserati is not an ‘ordinary’ premium brand but a real luxury manufacturer, volume is not that important. It has to retain its exclusivity wanted by a high profile clientele. A spokesman of the company sees a production of 100.000 cars a year as an outright maximum.
The smaller SUV, a competitor to the Porsche Macan, should add 20.000 sales every year. “Maserati is now in the outright luxury market and in the upper end of the premium segment”, confirms a spokesman, a strategic turnaround that has lead the brand far from the 8.000 cars sold in 2012.
With its 500 million euro profit Maserati has become the masterpiece for the FCA group trying to become profitable again. Together with Jeep the brand is the most international one within the group. Sales are evenly spread over the three big markets (Europe, US and China oscillate between 20 an 25% each), a good protection against cyclic effects.
The success of Maserati is a confirmation for FCA boss Sergio Marchionne that his plans with the group are still alive. It’s still a possibility that Marchionne wants to sell Alfa Romeo and Maserati to save the lower brands Fiat and Chrysler, but speculations about the sale of Jeep, the other successful brand, have been denied.
We will know more in June, when the next strategic plan for the whole group will be presented by Marchionne, so he can leave the manufacturer (a departure foreseen at the end of the year) in a better shape than predicted.