Maserati to halt production for one week in November

When it comes to selling cars, exciting new product is king. This is a fact Maserati is learning the hard way as it struggles to hit aggressive internal sales targets set by its Fiat Chrysler Automobiles ownership. And now a report from Reuters indicates that Maserati will be forced to shutter its Grugliasco plant near Turin, Italy, for one full week in November.

Rewind back to 2013 and things were looking really good at Maserati. The brand had rolled out a new version of its four-door flagship, the Quattroporte, a smaller and somewhat more accessible sedan one rung below in the form of the Ghibli, and a new line of twin-turbo engines in both six- and eight-cylinder guises. A sales spike seemed imminent. That's exactly what appeared in 2014, as Maserati topped our end-of-the-year sales chart with a monster 171-percent gain in the United States when compared to the year prior. Like we said, product is king.

The first signs of trouble brewing at Maserati rose into our consciousness in January of 2015, as, here in the States, the Italian brand took a monster nosedive in sales. That month's 20-percent decline would prove no anomaly, as February's 43-percent decline would attest. For the next few months of 2015, sales remained basically flat as allegations of shady sales accounting practices hit the news. In September, the last month sales data is available, the brand saw a drop of nearly 34 percent.

How does Maserati expect to fix its lagging sales? Exciting new product, naturally, this time in the form of the long-awaited, highly anticipated Levante crossover. While Maserati's history is full of grand-touring coupes and four-door sedans, CUVs are all the rage right now. In other words, as long as the Levante isn't terrible, it really ought to bring the brand's sales back to 2014 levels. Following the Levante, Maserati has promised a new coupe based on the design of the Alfieri Concept it showed off at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, and that will surely bring another hefty dose foot traffic into showrooms as the next product wave.

FCA is banking on turning Maserati from a niche player into a meaningful contributor to its sales chart. If that plan has any hope of turning into a reality, it's clearly going to take a lot more shiny new product to make it happen. Here's hoping the Levante is the next positive step in that direction.

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