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Fiat plans Jeep-based Maserati SUV to be built in Detroit

Aug 19, 2011




Chrysler owner Fiat plans to build a high-end Maserati SUV -- a Cayenne fighter -- in Detroit at the plant that churns out the new Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango.

Bloomberg News reports here that a person familiar with the plan says a concept of Maserati's first-ever SUV will be shown next month at the Frankfurt auto show. The Modena, Italy, brand that sells $100K and up luxury GT cars and the gorgeous Quattroporte sedans now is betting it can sell an SUV "Imported from Detroit."

A Maserati has been talked about for years, and the photo above is of a concept for one -- the Kubang GT concept on display at the Detroit auto show in 2003.

The SUV will be built at Chrysler's Jefferson North plant in the Motor City, the person told Bloomberg, and will be based on the redone Jeep Grand Cherokee, a platform that in turn has roots with former Chrysler owner Daimler, and powered by a version of Chrysler's Pentastar V-6.

Bloomberg notes that while project makes business sense, it risks turning off Maserati loyalists, particularly those who recall the ill-fated and tasteless TC from Chrysler and Maserati in the 1980s -- conceived at a time when the Italian maker was in financial trouble. It was the auto equivalent of a classy actress taking a role in a schlocky B-movie because she can't pay the rent. Fiat took over Maserati in 1993.

A clear target of the new SUV would be the Porsche Cayenne -- based on VW's mass-market Touareg, but a global sales and profit success for Porsche at $85,ooo and up, way up. It is by far Porsche's best-selling model in the U.S. and sparks little comment about whether it is a "real" Porsche.

Maserati wouldn't comment to Bloomberg ahead of Frankfurt, but CEO Harald Wester told the news service in March, "The important point is that whatever Maserati we launch will be a product that respects the entire heritage, image, characteristics, and customer expectations of this brand."

A big question will be what's under the hood -- a version of the Hemi V-8, or one or more of Maserati's Ferrari-based engines?

Fiat is trying to boost Maserati from a niche brand to a more broad-based luxury nameplate and the SUV is just one of the new products in the works.


 

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This makes sense. When the new CG started production last year, there were rumors that 3 vehicles would be built at Jefferson. This would be #3, after the Durango (#2), but the new Grand Wagoneer would add another, for a total of four. Previously, the GC and Commander were built at Jefferson. Great news - the more, the merrier!

:cool:
 

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Sep 13, 2011
Frankfurt: Maserati SUV to be built in Detroit unveiled




By Maserati via Detroit Free Press

Fiat's Maserati brand unveiled its Kubang SUV today in Frankfurt -- the SUV that Chrylser-owner Fiat plans to "import from Detroit."

The Porsche-Cayenne fighter is to be built alongside Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Durango's as Chrysler's Jefferson North assembly plant in Detroit.


Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said last December that a Maserati SUV based on the same platform, but with a "fundamentally Ferrari-based" powertrain will be made in Detroit in 2012. Marchionne wants to expand Fiat's Maserati and Alfa Romeo brands by drawing on Fiat and Chrysler's combined size to boost profit.

The platform on which the Grand Cherokee and Durango SUV are built has some links to the new Mercedes-Benz M-class, which was started as a joint program during the DaimlerChrysler era.

Jefferson North currently employs 2,685 hourly and 145 salaried workers on two shifts. Both the Grand Cherokee and Durango are selling very well. The addition of a third vehicle almost certainly would require new jobs for a third shift, but neither Chrysler nor UAW officials would confirm that.

The Maserati project would broaden the integration of Chrysler and Fiat, which owns 53.5% of the U.S. automaker. Early this year the partners launched the Fiat 500 minicar in the U.S. The small car is assembled for the U.S. at Chrysler's plant in Mexico. And Fiat sells a Fiat-badged version of the Dodge Journey crossover, also built in Mexico, with a diesel engine as the Fiat Freemont in Europe.

Joint projects in development include more than 20 vehicles based on the shared foundations, or platforms, including an Alfa Romeo SUV, the Jeep Compass, a Fiat sedan in China and a new small Dodge vehicle replacing the Caliber next year.

SOURCE
 
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