April 6, 2018
Since December of 1914, Italian luxury automaker Maserati has been known for premium performance vehicles with their own signature power sound. While vehicles have certainly evolved over the last century, the brand now faces one of its biggest challenges ever in order to produce an electric vehicle that is true to what is expected of a Maserati vehicle.
According to Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, all Maserati vehicles will be either hybrid or electric by the year 2019. Marchionne has ordered Roberto Fedeli, Maserati’s engineering master to create an electric vehicle as soon as possible. However, industry experts doubt a production start date will be set before early 2020 for the Maserati EV.
Although Maserati is the last premium automotive brand to have a battery-electric vehicle, they have made it clear that they are not following the rules or standards of anyone else when they do. By the time a Maserati EV hits the market, it will get there after BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Lexus, Infiniti, Volvo, and of course, Tesla.
Experts warn that when the first EV model does come, we should expect it to be more of a grand-touring coupe that is specialized and low volume. Those that were expecting something similar to a Tesla fighter will be disappointed. Fedeli came from the BMW i division in early 2017. He says that Maserati will not surpass Tesla at this time in the EV race due to engineering quality, driving dynamics, and the brand’s commitment to doing their own thing. Fedeli says that Tesla solutions are not up to par, comparing the execution and quality of their vehicles to 1970s a German OEM. He says there are better solutions.
Another hurdle that this brand faces in the development of an EV is making it feel like a true Maserati. According to Fedeli, current EVs on the market aren’t enjoyable to drive because they are too heavy, citing that they accelerate for three seconds at most and there is nothing else after that. The hardest Maserati quality to reproduce is the sound of the engine. Current Maserati vehicles have tuned internal-combustion V-6 and V-8 engines and their signature notes were even composed by the Milano La Scala opera house.
Fideli acknowledges that the sound is not the most important piece to an electric car. This leads them to the challenge of crafting an EV Maserati that still has Maserati character without its staple engine noise.
The other issue facing Fideli’s team at Maserati development and engineering is the weight of the battery. He says that when driving an EV, a lot of weight is felt, so much that not much else can be felt. For a few seconds, drivers can appreciate the power and torque of an EV vehicle but then cannot enjoy their drive on a regular road. His goal is to solve this inconsistency with their brand when a Maserati EV is produced.