“There’s an exotic uniqueness to Maserati,” says Davide Grasso, Global CEO of Maserati. “It’s not for everybody. But those that like it? They really, really like it.”
Grasso, the former CMO of Nike, is the master mechanic behind the recent rebuild of the iconic Italian car company. “In 2019, there was a disconnect between the memory that the customer had about this venerable brand and the quality being produced. It was uneven, so to speak.”
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And so Grasso’s team went to work, he says, with a laser focus on quality. “We didn’t make any compromises — we wanted to bring the brand back to where it belongs, which is luxury.” To accomplish this task they went back to their roots and simultaneously made a big leap forward launching Maserati’s first fully-electric vehicle, the GranTurismo Folgore.
The car GranTurismo Folgore will hit 60 mph in 2.7 seconds (if you don’t keep track of that kind of thing, just know that is really fast) and its three electric motors combine to make 818 horsepower (again, that’s a lot.)
Entrepreneur spoke with Grasso via Zoom to learn his approach to performing the delicate balancing act of revving up a brand’s engine with transformative innovations while preserving what made people love it in the first place.
It’s not about legacy
“This legendary brand has an incredible history in terms of bringing innovation and luxury and performance to the world of automotive for the last nearly 110 years globally. So for us, the focus has always been that: it’s not about legacy, it’s about delivering luxury mobility and performance mobility to our global customers. Electrification has been adopted in the Western world and China, so it was a natural choice for us to replace a state-of-the-art combustion engine with a state-of-the-art electric motor. The constant is top performance.”
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Form follows function
“While the style and elegance of Maserati are unmissable, form always follows function. There is a functional element to all of the designs, such as the long nose of the car which allows the combustion engine to sit on the front axis, lowering the center of gravity. Design and function epitomize Italian luxury. Think about Italian cities. The piazza is very beautiful and it serves a simple purpose. It’s about getting people together in a natural way.”
Subtle differences in a global marketplace
“Globally, the Maserati customer wants performance excellence and luxury, but there are very subtle nuances of what people from different cultures value most. For example, in China, the ergonomics of the backseats are very prominent. In North America, customers really think about torque and power. In Europe, the finish of the interior is very important to drivers. It’s all important to everyone, these are nuances I am talking about. But we don‘t alter anything — we have one product line for the entire world.”
Serving the customers while preserving the brand
“I was with Nike for 25 years and of the many things I learned is that you must know your core customer. At Nike, it was the athletes. At Maserati, it is the modern luxury consumer. And you must understand that a brand cannot be everything to everyone. You have to really think about what is truly adding to someone’s experience. For our customers, time is currency. So we make the process as simple as possible. That means we’re not offering entry-level and mid-level Maseratis. That just increases complexity. We put our energy into offering higher customized versions of our vehicles, not lesser versions that dilute the experience.”
Davide Grasso, Global CEO of Maserati, Photo credit: Maserati