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Slow sales force Maserati to idle factories

by Ronan Glon

\"Production is slowing down and investments in new models are on hold,\" according to a union rep.

Maserati will shut down its factories in Italy for longer than normal during the holidays in a bid to whittle down its new car inventory and cope with declining sales.

The company hasn't commented on its holiday schedule. The information comes from the two trade unions representing Maserati workers. An anonymous source told Automotive News Europe the Grugliasco factory that currently builds the Ghibli shut down on December 15th and won't re-open until January 15th of next year.

Maserati builds the Levante SUV (pictured) alongside the nine-year old Alfa Romeo MiTo in Fiat's Mirafiori factory, which is located in the Turin area. The same source indicated the Levante line is going idle today, December 20th, and workers won't fire it back up until January 15th.

Finally, the company's historic factory in Modena stopped building the Granturismo and Grancabrio models on December 15th. It's scheduled to re-open on January 8th.

Several factors caused sales to wane this year, according to Automotive News Europe. First, Chinese officials introduced new regulations that made it illegal for car companies to impose stock on dealerships. Sales consequently fell in China. They're also down in the United States and in Europe, Maserati's other two significant markets.

"It is clear that production is slowing down and investments in new models are on hold," said Federico Bellono, the head of a trade union named FIOM that represents Turin-area workers.

New models may be on hold for now, but Maserati is about to launch new variants of existing nameplates. We're expecting to see GTS and plug-in hybrid variants of the Levante break cover next year.

Not long ago, Fiat- Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) boss Sergio Marchionne boldly predicted the launch of three brand-new models would help Maserati sell a record-breaking 75,000 cars annually in 2018. Union representatives expect the brand will build 43,000 cars this year; analysts peg the figure at about 53,000. Both are increases over 2016, but reaching the 75,000 threshold in about 12 months looks increasingly unlikely.

Photography by Ronan Glon.