During last year’s Monterey Car Week, Maserati Americas CEO Bill Peffer hosted a roundtable discussion in which he spoke about the carmaker’s focus on quality and how it planned to work itself back into being an industry leader. At the time, the covers had just fallen off the MC20 Cielo, the Grecale wasn’t yet on sale, and the GranTurismo was merely a prototype.
Flash forward almost exactly a year, and those three models have become the brand’s core lineup as the Ghibli, Levante, and Quattroporte slowly go out of production following a few special editions. To see how Maserati is doing in 2023, we sat down again with Peffer to discuss sales figures, electrification, and the carmaker’s long-term commitment to its dealer network.
Some responses have been edited for clarity.
Today, Maserati sits in a pretty good place. Its sales figures have continued to grow year over year, and the Italian marque hopes the Grecale will propel it further forward. Peffer unsurprisingly confirmed that the brand’s latest crossover has already become its best-selling product, with sales starting in January.
The buyer demographic has changed as a result. Previously, most Maserati customers were men, according to Peffer. The Grecale balanced things with a more equal split between men and women. This new customer base is younger than in previous years and mainly comes from other luxury car brands.
“We’re conquesting. In the past we relied on our sedan ownerbase to resubscribe them to our new products. Over 70 percent of Grecale buyers are new to the brand. This is good because we can now build our ownership base.”
Peffer added that when surveyed, these new customers noted liking the Grecale’s styling and tech but were also influenced by its exclusivity. Maserati has always been a boutique manufacturer, but now it can leverage the Trident being a rare sight as a selling point.
“That product [Grecale] competes in a big space, and it unlocks out ability to invest in supercars like the GT and the MC20. This Netuno technology, this engine we started off with in the MC20 can be found in the GT and Grecale because of its packaging. We’ve committed to full electric versions as well so we’re one of the few brands making these dual investments.”
The first of this new line of electric vehicles will be the GranTurismo Folgore, scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. in the coming months. The Grecale will follow closely after, with the electrified MC20 being the final one to be introduced. Maserati’s goal in the efforts is that by offering dual powertrain versions of its cars, it can compete with larger brands like Porsche, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz despite offering just one mass-market product.
“What’s cool about that is that most of the competition works off of a skateboard. Our car [GT] is already well balanced because it has that compact packaging for the Netuno engine where it sits behind the front axle. It’s a front-mid ship. In the electric version, we wanted to maintain the piller of performance as it pertains to acceleration, handling, and top speed. So we built a battery pack which is in a “T” formation which you sit around. We can package that battery so it allows for a perfect 50:50 weight distribution, which is actually better than the gas car.”
Along with continuing to offer internal combustion cars for long-time fans of the brand. Maserati has leaned into further personalizing its vehicles with its in-house Fuoriserie customization program. This allows customers to configure their cars in ways not typically offered in the standard options list. Peffer explained that the brand started with a small run of 25 MC20s finished in Digital Mint, a matte blue resembling a Tiffany blue, which sold instantly and is now expanding with more one-off creations.
Given that Maserati is currently in a very forward-looking position, the question arose of whether the Italian carmaker planned to continue selling vehicles through the traditional business model. Could Maserati go direct to consumers?
“We are firmly committed to the dealership model. Through our partners, we know that we can provide an experience which is what an electric car customer demands. How do we make sure the customer’s experience is exclusively Maserati? We do that with updaded spaces, configuration rooms and the general vibe and openness so you don’t end up feeling smothered when you walk into the dealership. The only brand’s that I’m aware of that have gone direct are ones that have been established in the last few years building a certain type of car, so we have no plans to do that.”
Aside from these efforts in the consumer space, Maserati is also investing heavily in motorsport. Whether it be its involvement in Formula E or the recent unveiling of its GT2 racer, the Italian carmaker is making a comeback on all fronts. During this year’s Monterey Car Week, it plans to unveil its latest seven-figure creation, the MCXtrema, a limited MC20-based racecar.
Although a year passed since our first conversation with Peffer about Maserati’s future, it seems the brand’s turnaround is off to a promising start. The next stage will likely involve seeing how well its current and growing customer base warms up to its new range of electric vehicles in the coming months.