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Maserati investing big in an electrified future

Maserati has revealed its plans for the electrification of its current and future model range. Beginning in 2020, the company will gradually roll out both hybrids and battery electric cars. As well as moving to electrified powertrains, Maserati is also investing heavily in autonomous driving capability – including updating its current models. 

All of this is being made possible thanks to a significant investment of €5 billion by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) in domestic car production in Italy. This is predominantly being spent on new production facilities, electrification programmes and autonomous driving technologies across its brands.

Maserati's future model line-up

For a while the rumour mill has been churning out quiet murmurings of a performance hybrid from the Italian brand, but now we have the confirmation of its broad roadmap. Maserati's electrified model push will begin in 2020 with a hybrid version of the Ghibli – the first hybrid car in the brand's history. This will be built at the Maserati production plant in Turin where €800 million is being invested.

After this, and quite possibly in 2021, Maserati will launch the first of its all-new, fully electric sports cars. According to the blurb, this will pack next-generation battery technology, unique driving modes, extended range and ultra-fast charging capability. It will, however, retain Maserati's traditional values. This will be built in Modena, where the production line is being upgraded to cope with new BEV powertrains.

Next up will be a brand new “utility vehicle”, by which we assume they mean SUV. It's not clear whether this will be use a battery electric powertrain or will follow the Ghibli in using a hybrid setup, but we do know that it will be a significant model for the brand as will carry new, “innovative technologies”, the safe assumption being level three autonomy as detailed below. A new production line at Cassino is being constructed at a cost of €800 million and is scheduled to open in 2020, with pre-series cars coming off the line by 2021.

As well as these new cars, Maserati hasn't forgotten about its classic GranTurismo and GranCabrio sports tourers. Totally new versions of these cars, with electrified powertrains, will be produced at Turin, complementing the current model line-up of the Levante, Quattroporte and Ghibli.

Autonomous driving and investment for the future

On top of its significant plans for an electrified model line-up, Maserati is investing big in autonomous driving technology. All of the brand's new models and updated versions of its existing ones will be capable of Maserati Level 2 Advanced Highway Assist. This basically translates to a range of hands-on driver aids.

From there, it will progress to Level 3 which will offer hands-off capability close to full autonomy. This means that Maserati's new models will have the ability to manoeuvre in and out of lanes, or bring the vehicle to a safe stop if a driver is unresponsive and doesn't take control when prompted or required to.

All of this is being made possible by FAC's 2019-2021 investment plan which totals €5 billion which, as noted above, is being put to use upgrading and future-proofing Maserati's production lines. Modena in particular is subject to a major revamp in its continued role as the brand's HQ, and will get an all-new, environmentally-sound paint shop and a customisation programme through which customers can build one-of-a-kind cars.

Across FCA brands, there will be 12 electrified versions of new or existing models, including the new, all-electric Fiat 500.

Ghibli mild hybrid breaks cover

Now in July 2020, Maserati has unveiled its first ever electrified vehicle, but don't get too excited; it's only a mild hybrid. Maserati is celebrating the Ghibli as one of its most ambitious projects and a step towards the brand's new era.

Under the bonnet is a smaller petrol engine. Rather than the V6s and V8s that Maserati is known for, a four cylinder turbo and electric supercharged unit of just two litres, albeit with 325bhp, has been installed. It's backed up by a 48 volt alternator and larger, rear-mounted battery, which provides a small amount of assistance – especially at lower speeds. The electric supercharger helps fill in the low-rev gap before the turbo gets going without drawing power from the engine through a mechanical linkage.

Maserati hasn't put the Ghibli Hybrid through final homologation but is claiming emissions of 192g/km and up to 33.2mph – neither of which is exactly brilliant in this day and age.

According to Autocar, Maserati investigated the idea of making the Ghibli a PHEV, but decided against it due, with electrification boss, Corrado Nizzola, saying: “[PHEV means] A big battery in the boot and a weight distribution issue. On engine power you have more weight and on EV mode less power.”

It's a stance which neglects to address the combined power that PHEVs can offer, but does perhaps explain some of the rationale behind the decision to stick with less efficient 48v mild hybrid power. Regardless, at least the Ghibli looks good!

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