Maserati is “working to be ready” with an electric vehicle that it hopes to show off by 2020, the company’s engineering boss said in a recent interview with Car & Driver. He also said that electric-car maker Tesla is “not the best,” and that making a Tesla rival probably isn’t a good idea.
According to Car & Driver, Maserati engineering boss Roberto Fedeli has orders from the manufacturer’s parent company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, to have an electric vehicle ready as soon as possible. But a vehicle won’t be done for a few years, and Fedeli told Car & Driver that his earliest target date to show the car is 2019 or 2020. Showing, in the the case of cars, is far different from producing.
That’ll make Maserati late to the party as far as electric vehicles go. While Car & Driver didn’t say whether these are Fedeli’s words or a guess by the reporter, the report said the electric Maserati will be specialized, low volume and to “expect it to be more of a sleek grand-touring coupe.”
Here’s what Fedeli did have to say, according to Car & Driver:
By the time Maserati’s entry arrives, there will probably be production EVs in the premium segment from BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Lexus, Infiniti, and Volvo, along with Tesla. “We will be last (with a production EV), and we have to arrive to the market with something different. Very different.”
The car will definitely be different from the Teslas currently on the market, as Fedeli doesn’t appear to be a huge fan. From Car & Driver:
He added, “A Tesla fighter probably [is] not a good idea.” Fedeli, who was poached from BMW’s i division earlier this year by Marchionne to head engineering and development for both Maserati and Alfa Romeo, cited a list of reasons why Maserati wouldn’t benchmark Tesla, including engineering quality, driving dynamics, and the Trident’s desire to march to its own drumbeat.
“I don’t think that Tesla is the best product in the market but they are doing 50,000 cars a year,” the former Ferrari technical boss explained. “The execution and quality of the products of Tesla are the same as a German OEM in the 1970s. Their solutions are not the best.”
Fedeli said Maserati will have some unique challenges in making an electric car, such as weight and sound. Current electric vehicles, he told Car & Driver, are too heavy to be enjoyable while driving. But the car industry is currently kind of stuck as far as batteries and weight are concerned, since finding an alternative to lithium-ion batteries is harder than it sounds.
Since the sound of the engine is a major feature of Maserati and “not the most important characteristic of electric cars,” Fedeli also said that’ll be a challenge—giving the car character “without having one of [Maserati’s most important parameters.”
The manufacturer has a lot of parameters for its eventual electric car, but the good thing is that we’ll probably forget all of them by the time a car is actually ready. After all, a lot can happen in three or four years.