x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Maserati aims to stay in the race

Maserati still the best performing region worldwide in relative terms. And the company aims to accelerate growth across the Gulf.

Maserati, the luxury Italian car maker with a Formula One pedigree that includes the late multi-world champion Juan Manuel Fangio, saw sales in the Middle East and Africa slow last year. However, for the marque, it was still the best performing region worldwide in relative terms. And the company aims to accelerate growth across the Gulf.

"We have lost a bit of our market share in the first two months of the year that we are trying to recover," said Umberto Cini, the managing director of Maserati in the Middle East and Africa. "The market is a bit aggressive right now. There are definitely new competitors in the game that are quite strong, and again we have to find our own tools to be competitive." The car maker is fighting back and will try to entice buyers with new incentives in the coming weeks.

Maserati sales in the Middle East and Africa last year dropped by 11 per cent, Mr Cini said. That performance puts the Middle East and Africa far ahead of Spain, Japan and the UK, where sales dropped by 85 per cent, 69 per cent and 59 per cent, respectively. The overall UAE car market shrank by an estimated 8.5 per cent last year, selling about 324,900 vehicles, the London-based research consultancy Business Monitor International said. It has forecast 8 per cent growth for this year.

Maserati found itself pinned back despite the launch of a long-awaited new model. In September last year, the Maserati GranCabrio, the first four-seat convertible in the car maker's history, made its world debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Regional sales dipped by 11 per cent, to about 500 cars. Maserati is also looking to expand its reach beyond its current bases in the GCC, Lebanon, Egypt and South Africa, he said. It is eyeing entry into Jordan, Syria, Morocco and Iran but does not have a firm timetable for when to make the leap, said Mr Cini.

Instead, Maserati has a measured outlook for this year, he said. "We want to follow the market," Mr Cini said. "We want to keep a piece of our pie and keep it as it is until the end of the year." However, he is no doubt hoping the Maserati roar that has so entranced the car's fans will echo louder this year. aligaya@thenational.ae