Has marketing failed to provide the stimulus for Maserati’s much ambitious Levante SUV? Or was it a packaging glitch that has resulted in slow sales? Since its launch in 2016, the company stopped production twice and then reduced production by almost 60per cent. In 2017, Maserati sold just 5,485 examples of the Levante. Obviously, many questions need to be answered and when you include accountability into the equation, the results can be predictable if you are FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne.
The Levante was conceived and produced under the watchful eyes of Marchionne and it is considered that the project is close to his heart. Naturally, Marchionne isn’t happy with the sales results and blames it as a marketing failure. Following its poor showing in 2016, and its subsequent launch in the US later that same year, boss Reid Bigland was replaced by Tim Kuniskis as global head of Alfa Romeo and Maserati in February.
In a recent interview with media, Marchionne spoke candidly about the Levante. He admitted the debut of the large luxury vehicle was to blame for its exceedingly slow start. “Very poor execution, I think we sucked at the launch of the Levante,” he says.
Marchionne is not in the mood to admit failure and has a doable battle plan which also involves engineering talent from Ferrari. He set his team to create the Levante Trofeo, a limited edition powered by a fire-breathing 590hp, 3.8-litre, twin-turbocharged V8 made in Maranello, Italy by Ferrari. To differentiate from its siblings, the high performance SUV is finished in a matte Grigio Lava exterior and is shod with 22in wheels and red brake callipers. The debut of the Levante Trofeo in New York Motor Show marks a sort of “reset for the market,” says Marchionne. If this effort doesn’t help lift sales of the Levante models, then there’s still one card Marchionne may gamble with – a fully-loaded 700hp GTS Quattroporte version.