Levante SUV 'critical' for Maserati's 75,000-unit sales target

The company will also be relying on the SUV to generate profit that will be used to develop other models.

A Maserati executive has reaffirmed the important role that the upcoming Levante SUV will play in the company's future.

As crossover sales continue to surge, Maserati brand manager Giulio Pastore acknowledges that "there is no life for a company that sells only sports cars," according to an interview with Autocar.

Nearly every other luxury automaker appears to feel the same way, with SUVs under development by Jaguar, Bentley, Rolls-Royce and even Lamborghini.

Maserati already dabbled with the idea more than a decade ago, unveiling the Kubang concept in 2003. The concept was resurrected in 2011 (pictured) and appeared to be headed to production, built upon the Jeep Grand Cherokee platform despite the company's promise to keep it "100 percent Maserati."

Fiat Chrysler later scrapped plans to build the Kubang in Detroit alongside the Grand Cherokee. Maserati switched its focus to in-house development, renaming the model to Levante and promising to manufacture in Italy.

Executives now claim the Levante will be produced from "100 percent Maserati parts," sharing nary a single component with Jeep or any other Fiat Chrysler brand. The SUV is said to ride on an adaptation of the platform that underpins the Ghibli and Quattroporte, borrowing the cars' engines and drivetrain hardware.

"The Alfieri will represent the absolute DNA of the brand, and to build to that we must build a sustainable business," Pastore added. "That is why we have invested so much in the Levante. It is our design, engineered entirely by Maserati and built to our values."

The Levante will be pivotal in Maserati's plan to reach 75,000 annual sales by 2018, representing a jump from 15,000 units in just four years. Numbers appeared to be accelerating from 2013 to 2014, with global sales up by 137 percent, however US sales are now on a backward trajectory with an eight-percent drop for the first 11 months of the year.Live images by Mark Elias.

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