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DIALOGUE: Christian Gobber, Managing Director of Maserati Greater China
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altHidden under the pretense of an upscale passenger car, a Maserati could easily go unnoticed gliding through the streets in China. Any anonymity the brand has though will soon disappear. Maserati continues to make huge inroads in the Chinese market, as evidenced by doubling their sales in 2011 and delivering 780 vehicles to customers. A majority of the vehicles delivered, the Quattroporte, would blend in with a crowd of Benzes, BMWs, or Bentleys due to the similar 4-door body style common among passenger cars. However, this is where any similarities end, and the refined luxury and exclusivity of a Maserati take centre stage. With expected growth in China to outpace other markets, Maserati continues to aggressively expand. On 10 April the newest Maserati dealership in Tianjin opened on NanJing road. Christian Gobber, Managing Director of Maserati Greater China was on hand for the ceremony, and Business Tianjin had a chance to speak with him about what the future holds for Maserati as they get closer to their centennial.

The Beijing auto show will happen soon, what will Maserati bring to the show?

We plan on bringing one production car and one concept car. However, everyone is much more interested in the concept. We plan on bringing a GranCabrio and the Maserati SUV. In 2001, we presented our first SUV concept, but it never went into production. There were a number of reasons for this. At the time, we didn’t have the 4 wheel drive technology in-house. Now that Maserati has become part of a much larger group, there are new possibilities that have opened up.

How long is the average wait time for delivery of different models for the Chinese market after purchase?

altIf one of the people attending tonight wanted to order a Maserati that was not currently in our pipeline and wanted to completely customise it, you would be looking at roughly a six month wait time.

If you had to describe a "Maserati Lifestyle" to someone, what would you say?

I don’t believe you can say that a car gives you a certain lifestyle. What Maserati offers is a high performance car with exceptional handling and luxury, but if someone tells you that buying a car will give you a certain lifestyle, I wouldn’t really agree with that.

Do you see Maserati competing with supercar manufacturers like Ferrari or with more traditional luxury sedan manufacturers like Mercedes Benz?

Actually, if I had to give an example of a close competitor, I would say a Porsche Panamera. You have a luxurious, high performance vehicle. However, it still is practical enough that you could use it on a daily basis for all of your transportation needs. Supercars are not realistic vehicles to drive everyday and luxury sedans don’t have the same level of performance as a Maserati.

Maserati has a much larger number of female buyers than other ultra-premium brands. How has this affected the brand?

We tend to get a lot of customers who are moving into the high end brands due to an increase in wealth. The Quattroporte is the most popular model with its four doors, so it is much more functional for those buyers. Compared to other manufacturers which tend to skew heavily male, Maserati has been able to have tremendous success with female buyers and we look forward to increasing that in the future.

Has Maserati considered offering Master Maserati driving courses in China?

We have had events that are similar, but they have not been advertised. We recently had an event in Shanghai where we invited owners to take their cars out on the track to really experience the full performance of what the cars can do. These events have been very popular and we hope to expand on them in the future.

Do you think China will eventually surpass the United States as Maserati's top market?

Maserati is expecting to have continued growth in China as the number of newly wealthy individuals rises. It may not happen for a while, but I believe we are positioning ourselves well to give us a chance to make it possible.
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