Report: Maserati Levante SUV Will Be Built In Turin

As had been expected for some time, the Maserati Levante SUV will be built in Italy, rather than in Michigan as previously planned. Automotive News confirms that Fiat will try to appease Italian workers by investing about $1.32 million in its Turin, Italy, factory to build the Maserati Levante.

Fiat reportedly plans to bring workers back from extended layoffs once the Mirafiori factory in Turin has been re-tooled for production of the Maserati Levante. The luxury SUV is based on the Jeep Grand Cherokee, and so the automaker initially said the Levante would be built alongside the Jeep (and its Dodge Durango sibling) at Chrysler's Jefferson North plant in Detroit, Michigan. Yet earlier this year, rumors surfaced that the Maserati would instead be built in Italy.

Originally introduced at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show as the Kubang, the Maserati Levante will be the first SUV from Italian brand Maserati. Though it will be based on the mechanical components of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Maserati has always affirmed that the Levante will use a bespoke, Ferrari-derived engine -- likely a V-8. Based on the concept models of the Kubang we've seen at various auto shows (pictured), the Levante will wear the Maserati brand's famous large chrome front grille and trident badge, futuristic narrow headlights, and a raked rear windshield that renders the rear of the car convex.

Fiat is reportedly desperate to build more cars in Italy, because the automaker has laid off 5300 workers over the past six years. Despite this, Fiat has publicly committed to rehiring all of its former employees by 2016. One possibility to further increase production is the addition of an Alfa Romeo SUV that would be based on the Maserati and Jeep. Although that model is not yet approved for production, our sources suggest an Alfa SUV is a strong possibility in the future. It would also be all-wheel drive and built at the Mirafiori factory.

Source: Automotive News

Bill Burke
More than likely the Levante will be built off a modified Maserati Quattroporte or Ghibli platform in Italy where an Alfa Romeo version seems likely. This makes good business and political sense and gives Fiat some leverage with the unpredictable Italian labor unions. But an even better business case can be made for this cross Atlantic automaker if the Chrysler and Lancia brands are included in the mix. Since this Maserati platform is derived from the Chrysler 300, all the Maserati developmental work can be applied to a desperately needed RWD/AWD luxury crossover SUV using less exotic and less expensive Chrysler drive trains and interiors. This Chrysler styled SUV, as well as it's re-badged Lancia stable mate, can be built inexpensively along side the 300, Charger and Challenger in Canada. This saves Chrysler a whole bunch of development dollars and brings to market up to four distinct new vehicles for four brands, sold in wide global markets, at different price points to demographically different customers.  

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