All new Maserati models launched by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) will come with level 3 autonomous technology, according to the US-Italian manufacturer group.
At the same time, the Alfa Romeo brand will be consolidated, with planned sports models scrapped, and additions to the line-up limited to SUVs that will spearhead the marque’s move into hybrid and battery-electric (BEV) technologies.
The carmaker revealed its plans in its third-quarter results announcement.
Rumours began in 2017 suggesting that the group was looking to ‘spin-out’ the Alfa Romeo and Maserati brands into a separate company. It would then be floated on the Italian stock exchange, to release more capital for the rest of the business. However, with the announced merger between themselves and PSA Group, it is likely FCA will want to keep all its brands on board, adding value for the French carmaker.
FCA has put a new leadership team in place at Maserati and restructured its commercial team as it looks to strengthen the marque through product renewals and electrification. All new vehicles will come with a BEV option and will feature extended range and ultra-fast charging capabilities.
However, the announcement that all new vehicles will include level 3 autonomous technology will put the Italian carmaker at the forefront of FCA’s technology plan. It also puts the company at odds with others in the automotive industry, who are sidestepping the ‘middle-ground’ technology in favour of more driverless capabilities.
Level 3 allows a vehicle to detect objects in the environment around them and make adjustments and is considered the lowest level of full autonomy. However, the technology still requires a driver to be aware of what is taking place and prepare to take control at a moment’s notice. Some feel this negates the ‘full driverless’ experience, and instead, are concentrating on developing level 4 and level 5 systems, which need no human interaction.
Of European manufacturers, only Audi offers a vehicle with level 3 autonomy; the A8.
FCA’s presentation shows that the current line-up of models will be joined by a new sports car in 2020 and a new SUV and sports cabrio in 2021 before the GranCabrio and Quattroporte are replaced in 2022 and the Levante in 2023.
Meanwhile, Alfa Romeo’s planned sports-car range will now not take place, with FCA declaring that ‘The brand is to focus on current market strengths with reduced global reach and overlap with other Group brands’
The marque will retain its ‘premium positioning’ with current models the Giulietta and Giulia joined by a mid-size and large SUV model from 2021. The former may be based on the Tonale concept unveiled at the Geneva International Motor Show earlier this year.