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Rumors: Levante not Jeep-based?

by David Zatz on

Sergio Marchionne introduced the Maserati Kubang (now Levante) as a Jeep Grand Cherokee-based sport-luxury SUV, redesigned for Maserati. Originally to be built in Detroit, the Levante was then re-assigned to the massive Mirafiaori plant. Karl3, though, told us that reliable Italian magazine Quattroruote claims that the Levante is no longer even based on the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Now, according to Quattroruote, the Levante will be based on a modified version of the Quattroporte platform and architecture, seen as much sportier and in tune with the Maserati brand (Quattroporte itself is believed to be on a highly modified version of the LX platform and architecture). It is also believed to be more appropriate for its direct competition, the Porsche Cayenne.

There has been no confirmation of the change. Chrysler has been rumored to have been working on an SUV version of its large rear wheel drive cars for many years, but nothing has ever surfaced.

The magazine also wrote that Levante might be moved to the Grugliasco plant, where Quattroportes are made. Fiat said it would invest $1 billion into the Mirafiori plant, but an Italian court ruling that gave more power to recalcitrant union FIOM put spending on hold, and  the plant was kept under-used, with workers coming in for a mere three days per month to build Alfa Romeo MiTos.

Today, however, Italian financial newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore reported that Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne announced that new agreements with the unions allow the investments to continue, and that Levante will indeed be built at Mirafiori; he credited new contracts with innovative work rules for making it possible for all Fiat’s Italian plants to set a “level of excellence.” The trade unions, in a joint statement, urged the FIOM-CGIL union to adhere to the contract signed by most of the unions.

Maserati makes just about 50 Quattroportes per day, but Automotive News reported that Maserati is on track to sell 25,000 cars for the year, nearly triple its prior record. Quattroruote also reported that there may be a higher performance Ghibli (also based on a modified LX), called Ghibli MC, with the Quattroporte’s 530-hp turbocharged V8 engine.

David Zatz founded Allpar in 1998 (based on a site he had begun in 1993-94), after years of writing reviews for retail trades. He has been quoted by the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Detroit News, and USA Today. Before making Allpar a full-time career, he was a consultant in organizational psychology. You can reach him by using our contact form (much preferred) or by calling (313) 766-2304

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