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Reuters / September 13, 2005
FRANKFURT -- Fiat's sportscar unit Maserati plans to introduce a new,
smaller model to widen its appeal and boost sales, brand manager Karl Heinz
Kalbfell said on Tuesday.

Maserati sales have risen strongly over the last two years thanks to the new
Quattroporte, which was used as a springboard to take the Italian marque
back to the United States. Kalbfell said other launches were in the works.

"We are going a little bit into a smaller segment to sell more cars lower
down. But they will still be very high class," Kalbfell told Reuters at the
Frankfurt auto show.

He added that the new model would sell for about 10-15,000 euros less than
Maserati's current line-up which starts at around 90,000 euros ($110,500).

Kalbfell, who coordinated the BMW team that relaunched the Mini, declined to
give details of the size of the new Maserati or name its direct competitors.

Fiat poached Kalbfell from Rolls Royce earlier this year to head up
Maserati and its other sports brand Alfa Romeo, which plans two new models and four
facelifts in the next three years.

Fiat Chairman Luca di Montezemolo said its top-of-the-line Ferrari brand
would sell more than 5,000 units this year and post a "very important profit".

Last year, Ferrari sold 4,975 units. Together with Maserati, Ferrari posted
an operating profit of 6 million euros, down from 32 million a year earlier
despite a 20 percent rise in turnover.

"People say Ferrari is losing but I say we're not. We're earning money, not
losing it," Montezemolo told reporters, in reference to Ferrari's losing
streak on the Formula One circuit.

Montezemolo also reiterated that Fiat would not sell its 56 percent stake in
Ferrari in any future initial public offering.

Fiat sold 34 percent of the bright-red brand to merchant bank Mediobanca in
2002 to help raise cash to pull it through its worst ever financial crisis
without having to rely on volatile stock markets for a listing.

Mediobanca has sold some of its stake while another 10 percent of Ferrari is
owned by the carmaker's founding family.

"We will not touch our 56 percent stake. Maybe Mediobanca could discuss
listing its stake but there's no way we'll put ours on the market," Montezemolo
said.
 
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