Maserati unveiled its Kubang SUV concept for the first time in North America at the Detroit Auto Show, just miles away from the factory that will build the production version.
Harald J. Wester, president and CEO of Maserati, said that while the Kubang will be built in Detroit, based on the same platform that underpins the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango, it will still be a Maserati underneath. Maserati has not said when the vehicle would go into production.
In fact, the automaker has gone to great lengths to make sure the public is aware this is no badge-engineering job where the differences are little more than badges and massaged styling.
The Italian automaker is developing a new generation of “high-tech proprietary engines” at its headquarters center in Modena with a team led by Paolo Martinelli, who formerly headed the engine department for Ferrari’s Formula 1 team. It will be mated to an eight-speed transmission.
Other components, such as suspension, brakes, steering and electronics will be exclusively developed by Maserati.
“All major system components will be 100 percent Maserati in picture-perfect continuity with the brand’s core values of sportiness, elegance, glamour, luxury, performance and craftsmanship,” Wester said.
Maserati has wanted to do an SUV for years, showing its first Kubang concept in Detroit in 2003. But until Fiat became a partner with Chrysler, it couldn’t make a business case for developing a vehicle that is completely different than the rest of its lineup.
Until 2008, Chrysler was owned by Daimler, and the Grand Cherokee/Durango platform was developed largely by the German automaker for its M-class SUV. Now, that same platform will beget a new Italian SUV that will be produced in Detroit.
The Kubang will be built at Chrysler’s Jefferson Avenue plant, which also builds the Cherokee and Durango.