Despite a slowdown in overall vehicle sales in 2018 and the SA economy recovering from a technical recession late last year, Maserati South Africa is cautiously optimistic about the year ahead.
This is the view of Marc de St Pern, Operations Manager for European Automotive Imports - South Africa (EAI-SA). EAI-SA is the official importer of Maserati vehicles in South Africa. Driving this sentiment is a massive shift in luxury consumerism.
A report published by Market Research Future looking at Global Luxury Vehicle Market Analysis for 2018-2023 estimates that the luxury vehicle market will grow at an annual rate of 35% over the next four years.
"While luxury cars are considered status symbols, many customers are now buying these vehicles to express individuality. It is no longer about what you have, but rather about who you are as an individual," says de St Pern.
Image: Charlen Raymond/Wheels24
He adds that Maserati SA’s customers are drawn to the brand’s values of exclusivity, customisation and high levels of personalisation, which, he believes, play a big role in making the Maserati brand offering that much more than simply a vehicle to the discerning buyer.
Innovation and heritage
"The industry will face many new developments over the next few years, including that of technology," says de St Pern.
"We are already seeing how technology has rapidly changed vehicle offerings, such as surround-view cameras, wireless charging and better ways to connect smartphones to the vehicle’s screen.
"We are also seeing that technology is being used to improve vehicle safety features such as sensing abilities, blind-spot detection, lane-departure warnings, automatic emergency braking, parking assist and so on," he explains.
But, he says that for vehicle brands to be successful, they must go beyond merely delivering on the latest technological features. “In the luxury automotive segment, it is about offering more than the latest and best technology.
Brands have to simply deliver more than what is stated on the driver manual to stand out in the crowd. This includes delivering on the customer promise and consistently delivering exceptional service.
This means finding the balance between offering the latest gadgets, as well as being true to the heritage of the brand.” He adds that for Maserati this means promising a brand that delivers on performance and true craftsmanship.
“The exclusivity, bespoke Italian design and signature sound of our vehicles truly set us apart. Customers are looking to associate with the legacy of our brand and the exquisite detail which you only find in a Maserati vehicle.”
A demand for diversity beyond the SUV Another trend in the luxury car segment is the interest in sports utility vehicles (SUVs), which, as a category, a compromise of 70% in this segment. “This trend will continue well into 2019 due to luxury customers’ demand for more space, and bigger and better performance.”
In addition to the Levante, the brand’s SUV offering, de St Pern says that Maserati South Africa can offer the customer an exceptional and diverse range, including the Ghibli, Quattroporte, GranTurismo and GranCabrio.
He says that it is the brand’s commitment to excellence, as well as forming a long-lasting relationship with clients that ensure Maserati goes beyond the ordinary.
"I believe we are in a great position to deliver even more value to the Maserati customer in 2019, but also to offer something exclusive, unique and extraordinary to new customers.
"It is this commitment that I believe will ensure that our strong position in the SA luxury vehicle market will continue," concludes de St Pern.