Maserati was on a roll, with new cars filling out its otherwise-exotic lineup and sales hitting five times what they were four years ago.  This year, though, Maserati sales started falling, despite a new  crossover. In the second quarter, volume slipped by 41% from the second quarter of 2017.

maserati Levante Trofeo

Mike Manley put the blame squarely on Chinese sales, which fell by nearly 70% (sales also fell by double digits in Europe and North America). The China shortfall was, according to Mike Manley — as quoted by Automotive News — due to a reduction in tariffs. Dealers and buyers chose to wait for import duties to fall from 25% to 15%, which happened on July 1, 2018. The net result was Maserati’s volume falling by 31%, dropping from 25,100 to 17,200.

The good news for Fiat Chrysler is that margins are so high for Maserati, that the company still made a profit on the grand touring brand — a good €2 million, or roughly US$2.3 million. That’s not the huge profit of Q2-2017 (€152 million), but it’s not chump change, and it’s not a loss. It is, in fact, a €116 profit on each car — down from €6,056 per car, but nothing to sneeze at. At the same time, Maserati is working on next-generation cars and presumably at least one more SUV, proving that, despite what Tesla supporters say, you can develop a new lineup and still make a profit.

Maserati, like Alfa Romeo, recently invited autowriters to test out its wares in Michigan , promising to be more accessible to the media; that may help boost sales somewhat by providing wider, and perhaps more sympathetic, coverage of its new cars. At the same time, the company is adjusting production to prevent discounts from starting (or continuing) to damage the brand.

maserati ghibli v6

Maserati sold four times as many cars in 2017 as they did in 2013, and plans to double the 2017 number (50,000, in case you wondered) in 2022. Still in the works are the Alfieri, replacing the image-leading GranTurismo and GranCabrio, and a midsize SUV to hit the profitable center of the market. To keep up in both performance and eco-credentials, Maserati will be using electric motors in its full line, most likely using full electric in at least one car and standard or PHEV hybrids in others.

Maserati is still making money, and is still slated to keep growing, as FCA continues to fill Sergio Marchionne’s plan of bolstering its premium lineup. As Maserati gains, it’s likely Chrysler and/or Dodge will also benefit — not just from FCA having more ready cash, but also from being able to adapt Maserati’s high-performance designs to a less costly mass production format, and by spreading the cost of new technologies.