Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Black Ink for Maserati After 17 Years

Today, Maserati announced that it has earned an operating profit for the second quarter of 2007 (before one-time items) of approximately €1 million. This is the first time that Maserati has turned a profit since it was acquired by Fiat in 1990. Last year in the same period, Maserati reported a loss of €7 million. The company also broke even for the first half of 2007, while it had a €26 million loss in the first half of 2006.

The company attributes its newfound financial success to the highly-regarded Quattroporte automatic, which boosted Quattroporte sales by almost 40% over the first five months of its availability. Previously, the Quattroporte's transmission was a rear-mounted Duo-Select semiautomatic transmission which was relatively unrefined (according to reviews) and wasn't happy loping around town. It might have been acceptable in a no-holds-barred performance vehicle such as a Ferrari, but not in a car that competes with other $100,000 luxury sedans.

After much criticism, Maserati re-engineered the floorpan of the Quattroporte and equipped it with a ZF-sourced six-speed automatic transmission mounted in the front of the car to create the Quattroporte Automatica. The new transmission basically addressed nearly all of the complaints that owners and reviewers had about the Duo-Select one, and proved to be a wise move for the Italian automaker.

Maserati expects further success for the rest of 2007; in fact, with the upcoming launch of the Granturismo four-seat premium coupe, Maserati expects to earn a profit for the full year and to sell 35% more vehicles than it did in 2006 (7,600 versus 5,600), and even more in 2008.

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