Straight from the horse’s mouth, in this case it’s FCA’s CEO Sergio Marchionne, the Maserati Levante’s slow launch was said to have been very poorly executed. In fact, Motor Trend quoted Marchionne saying they “sucked at the launch of the Levante.”
Sales of the automaker’s luxury SUV isn’t doing so well, moving just 5,460 units last year in the States and 5,733 vehicles in Europe. Demand for the Levante was so low, dealerships had excess cars in stock and production had to be put on hiatus for roughly a week. Even now, production hours of the SUV at the Mirafiori plant in Turin has been cut back by nearly 60%.
Another change involves the now ex-global head of Alfa Romeo and Maserati Reid Bigland, who has been replaced with Tim Kuniskis. His success with the Dodge brand, including the Demon launch, has earned him the position and Marchionne may be counting on his marketing expertise.
Kuniskis has a tough road ahead of him with the launch of the new Levante Trofeo, a model that Marchionne hopes will “reset for the U.S. market.”
Launched at the New York Auto Show, the new Levante Trofeo will be powered by a twin-turbo 3.8-liter V8 engine delivering 581hp and 538lb-ft of torque. Even the chassis has been updated to feature Maserati’s new Integrated Vehicle Control system. We’ll have to wait and see if Maserati’s second try at the Levante launch is successful.
Marchionne is certainly optimistic. “If it doesn’t happen on my watch, I have no doubt my successor will be able to whack the crap out of both of them.”