Basking in healthy third-quarter financial results Tuesday, Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne announced that Maserati will add a second, smaller SUV by 2020.

With the bulk of FCA's (ticker: FCAU) profitability based on SUVs and trucks, Maserati needs another SUV in its lineup to compete more effectively - and it will get one soon, Marchionne told analysts during a conference call after the quarterly results were released.


The faded Maserati marque got a major boost when it's first SUV, the Levante, launched last year, successfully expanding the brand's reach and appeal. The next model - which is already in the works, Marchionne said - will be positioned below the Levante.

Maserati "needs another car ... it needs a smaller SUV than it has today," Marchionne told analysts . "And that's something that we just - we had just finished our executive meetings today, I think we're well on way to getting that done."

Consumer tastes have shifted decisively toward SUVs in recent years, making them the hottest sellers and the profit centers of nearly every OEM's portfolio. Those automakers which don't have enough of them in their lineups are scrambling to add more.

The new SUV will be based on the same rear-wheel-drive, AWD platform under the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, while the Levante is on the same platform as Maserati's Ghibli sedan.

Levante has already helped Maserati boost sales. Adding a second SUV should help boost earnings to one billion euros per year, Marchionne said . The brand's volume was 36,000 vehicles during the first three quarters of 2017, up from 23,900 a year ago, and 55 per cent of those sales were the SUV. Adding a second could get sales to the 70,000-80,000 range, the CEO said.

The company recently slowed production of the Levante to reflect import rules changes in China, as we told you about here . But its success is making up somewhat for lower sales of the Quattroporte and boosting the brand overall.