Maserati or the return of a legend – Les Échos

Posted on Oct 2, 2020 at 6:02 am

The vintage Maseratis make their last lap on the Modena motor circuit as the sun sets over the Motor Valley. This region, which lies between Parma and Bologna, in Emilia-Romagna, is renowned for its gastronomy and for being the birthplace of major luxury car brands from Ferrari to Lamborghini. The region of "Slow Food" and "Fast Cars" in short … Since September 9, it is also the region of the new model of Maserati.

It's time to be audacious

For the world presentation of the MC20, the brand with the trident had invited more than 400 guests and several hundred journalists to a real American show with on stage, light shows, giant screen and ultra-powerful sound system to display loud and clear: “It's time to be audacious”. An event attended by the entire Fiat Chrysler (FCA) staff, starting with its managing director Mike Manley and its president John Elkann. “This is an ambitious launch in the world of engines,” commented the latter. This is the sign of Maserati know-how. It is important to show in a difficult time like the one we are going through because of Covid-19, that we do not hide, that we are releasing new products. It's a very nice car, I have already ordered two. "

Production will start by the end of the year in Viale Ciro Menotti (Modena). Models will roll out in droplets of its state-of-the-art assembly lines where the MC20 will only be produced in a few hundred units in the first year. It will therefore be necessary to wait until the first half of 2021 to pilot one and spend some 216,000 euros (starting price). This supercar was designed for three types of cars: coupe, convertible and a 100% electric which will be presented in 2022.

Maserati or the return of a legend Les Echos - Maserati or the return of a legend - Les Échos

Aluminum, chrome, a wide range of leather colors, all rigorously 100% Made in Italy.Giacomo Maestri for Les Echos Week-end

Customers can also customize their car to their liking. This is the object of the Fuoriserie program: the installation, in the heart of the historic factory opened in 1939, of a genuine Italian luxury automobile workshop which has been the subject of new investments to be at the forefront of new developments. technologies. Three collections have been designed offering thousands of possible combinations: Corsica, Unica and Futura, The first will delight fans of sports competitions with the possibility of choosing a livery inspired by those which made the glory of the brand on the circuits of whole world. Technology enthusiasts will prefer the Futura collection with its innovative Biolime or Graphite Blue shades. Finally, the Unica collection is intended for aesthetically sensitive drivers with materials such as aluminum, gold or chrome, not to mention a wide range of leather colors. All rigorously 100% Made in Italy.

The big news is under the hood

Elegance and performance, the two hallmarks of the MC20, a car with a sober bodywork housing a powerful engine. The monocoque in carbon fiber and composite materials is flanked by two butterfly doors. The logo has been refined and the paint chosen for its lightness. Result on the scale: a little less than 1,500 kg. Inside, the bucket seats are made of reinforced leather and the digital instrument panel is fitted with a touchscreen infotainment system. Nothing very original. It is under the hood that we must go for the big novelty. An engine entirely manufactured in Modena, "the first in more than twenty years", boasts Maserati which used those of Ferrari. The brand has also patented that of its MC20 called Nettuno, a reference to its logo symbolizing the trident of Neptune whose statue stands in Piazza Maggiore in Bologna. This twin-turbo V6, coupled to a hybrid system of 630 horsepower, inaugurates a combustion system based on formula 1 as standard. It allows you to go from 0 to 100 km / h in less than 2.9 seconds and reach a top speed of over 325 km / h.

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A 100% Maserati engine, worthy of F1: top speed of over 325 km / h.Giacomo Maestri for Les Echos Week-end

With the MC20, Maserati doesn't just want to get back into the luxury builders' race in which it is losing momentum. She intends to return to the race itself with a future participation in sports competitions that she had abandoned. Enough to wake up the ardor of tifosis and revive the glorious memories of a brand born for the racetracks. Before being the car of la dolce vita, from the 1960s, it was the victory in the Grand Prix won by its Nuvolari drivers or the Argentinian Fangio, F1 world champion in 1957.

Become the jewel in the crown

Boldness, Maserati has yet lacked in recent years and the tips of its trident have become dull. It has not launched any new model since 2016 and the Levante SUV (urban luxury 4X4) completed the range made up of the Ghibli sedan, the Quattroporte limousine, and the GT GranTurismo and GranCabrio. Last year, red was not the color of the liveries of its cars, but that of its balance sheet. After experiencing a sharp increase in sales in 2016 (+ 30%) and 2017 (+ 22%), reaching that year a peak of 51,500 cars, it has since faced a continuous decline: -32% in 2018 and -45% in 2019 (with only 19,300 vehicles).

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Who says luxury, also says craftsmanship … Here, a live sketch by a designer from Maserati.Giacomo Maestri for Les Echos Week-end

The year 2020, with the coronavirus pandemic, is obviously the year of a standstill for the entire sector. While it generated 560 million euros in operating profit in 2017, last year it posted losses of 200 million euros for a turnover of 1.6 billion. The collapse of the Chinese market – the first for Maserati with almost a third of its sales – does not explain everything. Mike Manley, acknowledges “mistakes made in the past. Above all, that of ‘launch only '. The great attention that accompanies the launches of new models does not translate into sufficient investments to support them over time. But we want to make Maserati the jewel in the crown of the new Stellantis group ”- the group that will be born in the first quarter of 2021 from the merger between PSA and FCA.

Objective: 75,000 cars per year

Maserati is in the starting blocks to occupy the pole position of the very lucrative luxury automobile segment which continues to grow. The ambitions that set Mike Manley to him are quantified: to sell 75,000 cars per year by 2025, and to restore the margin to 15%. And he decided to give him the means. Financial first with the announcement eighteen months ago of a massive investment plan of 2.5 billion euros, including 350 million for the development of the MC20. Human then, with the recruitment of Davide Grasso. This former executive of Nike and Converse, who arrived in July 2019, can rely on his new sales director, the French Bernard Loire, the former president of Mitsubishi and Nissan Europe. Main objective: to give a boost to a sleeping brand. “It's the start of a new era,” Davide Grasso said emphatically when he unveiled the MC20.

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In the Viale Ciro Menotti factory, ultramodern workshops for the MC20.Giacomo Maestri for Les Echos Week-end

An era placed under the sign of the electrification of a renewed range of vehicles. No less than 12 new models will arrive in the next three years, starting with the Grecale SUV, in 2021. All will now be available in a 100% electric version. The procrastination about this new technology is no longer relevant since the presentation last July of the Ghibli Hybrid. A brand new modular electrical platform designed in-house will be used to develop technical solutions which can then be extended to other brands of the future Stellantis group. Enough to go under the radar of increasingly punitive taxation of vehicles emitting heavily of C02. In the Netherlands, for example, taxes can represent up to 100,000 euros on the Levante SUV, the model that provides more than half of Maserati's sales.

"With the MC20, we are laying the foundation stone for the brand's future," insists its boss Davide Grasso. We will put it back at the forefront of luxury car manufacturers, a place it should never have left. But we must also ask ourselves about our new customers, their motivation, their approach which differs according to the continents, particularly with regard to the electric car. “To qualify the brand image revolution he intends to lead, Davide Grasso has only one word: daring.

Panini's Maseratis

Many SMEs / SMIs as well as large groups are opening museums to promote their heritage and tell, through their history, that of 20th century Italy. This is the case of the large automobile stables in Emilia-Romagna with the collections of the Ferrari museum in Maranello or the museum dedicated to Enzo Ferrari, the founder of the prancing horse brand. They have attracted more than half a million people in recent years, becoming the number one tourist attraction in the region and almost equaling the number of visitors to the Borghese Gallery in Rome. The doors of the ten museums linked to the automobile construction in Emilia-Romagna were crossed by nearly 2 million tourists in 2018, 56% of whom are foreigners.

We owe the Maserati Museum to Umberto Panini, the one who best tells the story of the brand since its creation in 1914. If Umberto Panini is known to be the founder of the album publishing house for self-adhesive figurines, his real passion remains the Maserati: over several decades he has assembled the rarest collection of cars from the trident brand. Among them is the 6C 34 single-seater produced in only 6 copies, which accompanies the 18 other cars parked in one of its properties to retrace the historical, technical and stylistic evolution of a legendary Made in Italy brand.

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