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Maserati future looks bright

The 2010 year saw 47 per cent increase in sales in the US, 54 per cent in China and 46 per cent in the UK.

The specialist Italian car maker recently reported its 2010 profit, together with the year's 5777 unit sales, which was up about 18 per cent on 2009.

Maserati spokesman Luca Dal Monte admits 2009 was a depressed year - because of the global financial crisis - but on that still reported a $15 million profit for the company on sales of under 5000. It is a far cry from the record sales year of 2008 when Maserati made 8586 cars and one that may not be repeated soon.

Dal Monte predicts 2011 will have "about the same'' sales as 2010. Asked if product development will be stifled by modest sales increases, he says it was incidental. "Profit doesn't affect future development,'' he says. "We are part of the Fiat Group.''

With Fiat behind it, Dal Monte indicates that new projects - the mid-size prestige saloon, a new Quattroporte and an SUV - are assured.

Fiat bought Maserati in 1993 but it wasn't until 2007 that it made its first profit for some decades. In 2008, thanks to a resurgence of the marque, profit tripled over 2007 to about $110 million. The 2010 year saw 47 per cent increase in sales in the US; 54 per cent in China (off a low base as 402 cars sold that year); and 46 per cent in the UK. One week ago, Maserati opened a dealership in India.

Maserati, like Ferrari, build to customer orders under the philosophy of making "one car less than is ordered''. That ensures it carries no stock and has minimal downside when global car sales slump.