Maserati CEO Davide Grasso on the Company’s Push for Quality—and Electrification
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Maserati CEO Davide Grasso on the Company’s Push for Quality—and Electrification

By Jim Motavalli
Thu, May 4, 2023 9:27amGrey Clock 3 min

Maserati is sitting out the auto shows—at least most of them.

“The world is changing, and we made the decision about auto shows in 2019 or 2020, when the pandemic happened, and we’ve stuck with it,” CEO Davide Grasso told Penta in an interview. “No more auto shows, except Shanghai. We make an exception for Shanghai.” It helps that China now has the largest auto market in the world.

Indeed, at Shanghai on April 19, Maserati unveiled its second electric Folgore model (after the redesigned GranTurismo, which was also being introduced to China). The new entrant is the SUV Grecale Folgore. “It’s a new beginning for the brand,” Grasso said in Shanghai. “We’re celebrating Folgore, the electrification plan that has become a reality and is ready to pave the way in this revolutionary era. I’m very excited to be here in Shanghai, which is not only an international exhibition but also a global platform for innovation. It’s the ideal place to unveil the first electric models in the history of Maserati.”

Maserati’s Davide Grasso: “To succeed as a luxury brand, you have to focus on quality, not quantity.” (Maserati photo)

When it released the Grecale Folgore, Maserati said it would be built in Italy with a 105-kilowatt-hour battery and “all the true Trident performance elements.” These include more than 500 horsepower with 590 pound-feet of torque. The top speed will be over 124 miles per hour. There are now three versions of the Grecale: the GT, with a four-cylinder mild-hybrid powertrain and 300 horsepower; the Modena, with a three-litre, 530-horsepower V-6 related to the Nettuno engine in the MC20; and the Folgore, 100% electric with 400-volt technology.

Grasso saysMaserati is thriving as part of the 14-brand Stellantis, headed by hard-charging CEO Carlos Tavares—a stickler for quality.

“The quality issue is important,” Grasso says. “Carlos is a great believer in the potential of the Maserati brand. To succeed as a luxury brand, you have to focus on quality, not quantity. So we are putting a lot of effort into upgrading our processes. We took the time to ensure that the Grecale would be pristine..”

Maserati had a 24,269-vehicle global year in 2022. That was not the loftier goal set by the company in 2018, but it was quite a successful year nonetheless

The company’s full-year profits were US$221 million, nearly double of 2021“Maserati is back, doing the right things in the right way,” said Tavares in an earnings call. Unlike Tavares, Grasso did not come up through the auto industry ranks. Before Maserati, he was CEO and president at Converse, and prior to that was chief marketing officer at Nike. But shoes or cars, the core principles are basically the same, Grasso says.

“The pillars are brand marketing, customer service, residual value, and human resources. Without all these things and the right mindset, managing a luxury brand won’t work. You can have the best marketing team, but if you’re bad at servicing—if we don’t give you a loaner, if we treat you badly—it all falls apart,” he says.

Grasso also says he was happy with the electric versions of the GT and Grecale.

“The electric GT is heavier, but the cars are still very responsive, with 2.7 seconds to 60 mph and 760 horsepower on tap,” he says. “We are in full execution of our electrification strategy now, and we’re excited by the level of performance. We will have an electric Quattroporte in early 2025 on a brand-new platform, redesigned from the inside-out. Then the new Levante. We will be only electric by 2030. The plans are coming together, so it might even be earlier than that.”

Although SUVs dominate today, Grasso sticks up for the sedans and two-seat sports cars (the MC20) in Maserati’s lineup.

“It’s never all SUVs,” he says. “There’s the comfort of a sedan versus the off-road capability of an SUV. Maserati was born on the track, so we combine speed and luxury. Many of our owners have multi-car garages, so they can own different types of vehicles.”

Maserati has been aggressive in establishing its U.S. dealer network, and now has more than 100 outlets. “We are right-sizing it, and there are some locations where we don’t need to be,” he says. “We have to be where the customers are. And going forward, the stand-alone dealership is the model. We have to make sure that the dealerships are aligned with our core values, treating the customers with courtesy and streamlining the buying procedure. But we don’t want to woo people with bells and whistles if it’s not matched with excellence in the rest of the operation.”



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Is ‘Rizz’ the Secret to Getting Ahead at Work?

Whether you call it charisma, charm or magnetism, some people seem like naturals. Good news: It can be learned.

By Rachel Feintzeig
Mon, Jul 22, 2024 4 min

Great leaders have it. Gen Z has a new word for it. Can the rest of us learn it?

Charisma—or rizz , as current teenage slang has anointed it—can feel like an ephemeral gift some are just born with. The chosen among us network and chitchat, exuding warmth as they effortlessly hold court. Then there’s everyone else, agonising over exclamation points in email drafts and internally replaying that joke they made in the meeting, wondering if it hit.

“Well, this is awkward,” Mike Rizzo, the head of a community for marketing operations professionals, says of rizz being crowned 2023 word of the year by the publisher of the Oxford English Dictionary. It’s so close to his last name, but so far from how he sees himself. He sometimes gets sweaty palms before hosting webinars.

Who could blame us for obsessing over charisma, or lack thereof? It can lubricate social interactions, win us friends, and score promotions . It’s also possible to cultivate, assures Charles Duhigg, the author of a book about people he dubs super communicators.

At its heart, charisma isn’t about some grand performance. It’s a state we elicit in other people, Duhigg says. It’s about fostering connection and making our conversation partners feel they’re the charming—or interesting or funny—ones.

The key is to ask deeper, though not prying, questions that invite meaningful and revealing responses, Duhigg says. And match the other person’s vibes. Maybe they want to talk about emotions, the joy they felt watching their kid graduate from high school last weekend. Or maybe they’re just after straight-up logistics and want you to quickly tell them exactly how the team is going to turn around that presentation by tomorrow.

You might be hired into a company for your skill set, Duhigg says, but your ability to communicate and earn people’s trust propels you up the ladder: “That is leadership.”

Approachable and relatable

In reporting this column, I was surprised to hear many executives and professionals I find breezily confident and pleasantly chatty confess it wasn’t something that came naturally. They had to work on it.

Dave MacLennan , who served as chief executive of agricultural giant Cargill for nearly a decade, started by leaning into a nickname: DMac, first bestowed upon him in a C-suite meeting where half the executives were named Dave.

He liked the informality of it. The further he ascended up the corporate hierarchy, the more he strove to be approachable and relatable.

Employees “need a reason to follow you,” he says. “One of the reasons they’re going to follow you is that they feel they know you.”

He makes a point to remember the details and dates of people’s lives, such as colleagues’ birthdays. After making his acquaintance, in a meeting years ago at The Wall Street Journal’s offices, I was shocked to receive an email from his address months later. Subject line: You , a heading so compelling I still recall it. He went on to say he remembered I was due with my first child any day now and just wanted to say good luck.

“So many people say, ‘Oh, I don’t have a good memory for that,’” he says. Prioritise remembering, making notes on your phone if you need, he says.

Now a board member and an executive coach, MacLennan sent hundreds of handwritten notes during his tenure. He’d reach out to midlevel managers who’d just gotten a promotion, or engineers who showed him around meat-processing plants. He’d pen words of thanks or congratulations. And he’d address the envelopes himself.

“Your handwriting is a very personal thing about you,” he says. “Think about it. Twenty seconds. It makes such an impact.”

Everyone’s important

Doling out your charm selectively will backfire, says Carla Harris , a Morgan Stanley executive. She chats up the woman cleaning the office, the receptionist at her doctor’s, the guy waiting alongside her for the elevator.

“Don’t be confused,” she tells young bankers. Executive assistants are often the most powerful people in the building, and you never know how someone can help—or hurt—you down the line.

Harris once spent a year mentoring a junior worker in another department, not expecting anything in return. One day, Harris randomly mentioned she faced an uphill battle in meeting with a new client. Oh!, the 24-year-old said. Turns out, the client was her friend. She made the call right there, setting up Harris for a work win.

In the office, stop staring at your phone, Harris advises, and notice the people around you. Ask for their names. Push yourself to start a conversation with three random people every day.

Charisma for introverts

You can’t will yourself to be a bubbly extrovert, but you can find your own brand of charisma, says Vanessa Van Edwards, a communications trainer and author of a book about charismatic communication.

For introverted clients, she recommends using nonverbal cues. A slow triple nod shows people you’re listening. Placing your hands in the steeple position, together and facing up, denotes that you’re calm and present.

Try coming up with one question you’re known for. Not a canned, hokey ice-breaker, but something casual and simple that reflects your actual interests. One of her clients, a bookish executive struggling with uncomfortable, halting starts to his meetings, began kicking things off by asking “Reading anything good?”

Embracing your stumbles

Charisma starts with confidence. It’s not that captivating people don’t occasionally mispronounce a word or spill their coffee, says Henna Pryor, who wrote a book about embracing awkwardness at work. They just have a faster comeback rate than the rest of us. They call out the stumble instead of trying to hide it, make a small joke, and move on.

Being perfectly polished all the time is not only exhausting, it’s impossible. We know this, which is why appearing flawless can come off as fake. We like people who seem human, Pryor says.

Our most admired colleagues are often the ones who are good at their jobs and can laugh at themselves too, who occasionally trip or flub just like us.

“It creates this little moment of warmth,” she says, “that we actually find almost like a relief.”

MOST POPULAR
11 ACRES ROAD, KELLYVILLE, NSW

This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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