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Maserati SUV a boost for Detroit

2012-01-11 08:15

MADE IN THE USA: The production vehicle based on the Kubang concept will be the first Maserati to be built in the US.

DETROIT, Michigan — The name will change but the luxury Maserati sport SUV concept on display at the 2012 North American International Auto Show is close to the production model that will be built in Detroit.

Maserati hopes to sell about 20 000 a year of the SUV, mostly in the US and China. The concept is now called the Kubang but the vehicle will get a yet-to-be-revealed new name before it enters production.

NEW BENCHMARK


Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne, whose Turin, Italy-based company controls Chrysler, Maserati and Ferrari, told reporters on Tuesday that the vehicle could set a benchmark for the US auto industry.

"I hope this will be the beginning of a longer process that legitimises the American car factories," Marchionne said. "You don't have to go overseas to buy a great car."

The company said the SUV on display was generally similar to the production vehicle on the outside; there would be more changes to the interior before production began.

Maserati also showed the Kubang, which it said at the time it planned to start building in 2013, at the September, 2011 Frankfurt auto show. It will be assembled at Chrysler's Jefferson North assembly plant.

An earlier Kubang concept, shown at Detroit in 2003 was never built.

WHAT'S NEW


Power, speed, fuel consumpton: Details weren't released but the SUV will have an engine built by Ferrari, so it's bound to pack a punch.

Looks: The Kubang offers a fresh take on luxury SUV's with a clean, powerful look that takes on some of Maserati's sports-car features.

Cheers: The Kubang is an example of Fiat's efforts to export Chrysler-built vehicles. It's a boost for the Detroit plant, which recently heard that it would get 1100 extra staff and a third shift to help build a Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel for North America.

Jeers: Maserati is billed as an extremely premium brand so it isn't known whether potential buyers will see the SUV as a true Maserati or as a US-made SUV with a fancy badge.
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