September 18, 2020

Fiat Chrysler Looks to Maserati to Jump-Start Stalled European Business

MODENA, Italy—Fiat Chrysler Automobile NV’s years of struggles in Europe faded for an evening as its Maserati brand lavishly unveiled a new luxury sports car it hopes will reinvigorate the unprofitable marque.

Booming music, strobe lights and video clips recalling Maserati’s illustrious racing past met hundreds of socially distanced, mask-wearing observers gathered Wednesday to get a first peek at the MC20. The brand’s first new car for four years can accelerate to 60 miles per hour in less than 3 seconds and has a top speed of 200 miles an hour.

As the consummation of Fiat Chrysler’s merger with Peugeot owner PSA Group approaches, the Italian-American car maker is again trying to revive the fortunes of Maserati. The brand sold just 19,300 cars in 2019—down by almost two-thirds in two years—and coronavirus lockdowns contributed to a further 50% drop in first-half sales this year.

A new five-year target calls for Maserati to achieve an operating profit margin of 15% on sales of 75,000 vehicles.

Fiat Chrysler’s European business, which also includes the struggling Alfa Romeo and Fiat brands, has long strained to make a profit, with the group’s finances depending in recent years on strong sales of Jeep sport-utility vehicles and Ram trucks. Once the PSA merger is finalized by the end of March, the combined company is expected to cut costs, putting more pressure on the Italian brands.

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