Luxury Maserati sports cars to go on sale in India again

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Italian carmaker Fiat Chrysler is set to starting selling luxury Maserati cars in India again nearly three years after troubles with its former partner in the country forced it to pull out temporarily. Fiat Chrysler Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne is pursuing ambitious sales targets for Maserati and other brands under a turnaround plan outlined last year. A big push into Asia is key for the company to achieve its target of selling 75,000 Maseratis each year by 2018.

“India is an important, strategic market for us even though it is not as big as it (could) be in terms of volume … so we want to be present directly here,” Umberto Cini, managing director for Maserati Middle East, India and Africa, told Reuters on Wednesday.

Maserati logo is seen on Ghibli model after Maserati announced its re-entry into the Indian market at an event in New Delh

Growth in luxury car sales in India has outpaced sales of other passenger vehicles over the last few years, but remains a fraction of overall car sales in the country.

This has prompted German carmakers including Volkswagen’s Audi, BMW and Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz to increase the level of local content in their cars to lower prices, widen their appeal and boost sales further.

Maserati, which sold 36,448 cars worldwide in 2014 – an increase of 137 percent over 2013 – is aiming for sales in the “two digits” in India during its first year, through dealerships in cities including Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, Cini said.

The dealerships will be set up during the third quarter of 2015 after which they will start selling cars likely to be priced from about 11 million rupees ($173,000).

The luxury sports car brand sold 10 vehicles over a 12-month period when it first entered India in 2011. Bojan Jankulovski, network development manager for general overseas markets, said he hoped a change in strategy would mean higher sales this time.

Maserati, which offered only a limited range before, will sell its full portfolio of vehicles in India, including its two-door GranTurismo sedan, the four-door Quattroporte coupe and the lower-priced Ghibli.

These will be joined next year by Maserati’s first sports utility vehicle, the Levante.

Maserati will import cars with the help of its parent company Fiat Chrysler India this time, rather than seeking a partner, Jankulovski said, giving the company more control.

BY ADITI SHAH Courtesy Reuters