Maserati unveils a made-in-Detroit SUV

September 13, 2011: 4:27 PM ET
maserati-kubang.top.jpg

The new Maserati Kubang SUV is expected to be built in Detroit alongside the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The same Detroit factory workers who today are building Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Durangos should soon also be assembling a new SUV for Maserati that will have an engine produced by Ferrari.

The Maserati Kubang SUV, officially still a concept car, was unveiled Tuesday at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany.

Sergio Marchionne, chief executive of both Chrysler and Fiat, had previously mentioned plans to build a Jeep-based Maserati SUV in the same Detroit factory that now makes the Durango and the Grand Cherokee.

Luxury automaker Maserati is owned by Fiat, the Italian company that rescued Chrysler Group from bankruptcy. Chrysler Group makes Dodge and Jeep vehicles.

Maserati cited "potential synergies with sister brand Jeep" as helping guide the decision to produce the Kubang. The idea isn't entirely new, though. Maserati had shown a concept SUV called the Kubang in 2003, before Fiat's relationship with Chrysler.

Both the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango have been sales hits for Chrysler Group and have met with mostly positive reviews from critics. It's expected that the Kubang will share the underlying engineering of those vehicles.

Gallery: 10 costliest cars at Pebble Beach

Maseratis are generally powered by Ferrari-built engines, and the Kubang will continue that tradition, using a 4.7-liter V8, Maserati said in its announcement. Ferrari is also part of Fiat Group.

The SUV will have an eight-speed transmission that the automaker said was developed by Maserati. The Grand Cherokee and Durango are also expected to have their own Chrysler-designed eight-speed transmissions next year.

Joe DeMatio, deputy editor for Automobile magazine, said he was unsure about Maserati's decision to produce the Kubang.

"Whether they should even be coming to the SUV party at this late date is highly debatable,' he said.

Luxury performance automakers like Porsche and BMW have offered SUVs for years now. Those automakers have proven that having an SUV in the lineup doesn't necessarily ruin a brand's performance image, DeMatio said.

12 wicked-fast convertibles

Maserati, which has less well-defined image in consumers' minds -- beyond simply being an expensive Italian car -- may not have much to lose by stretching a bit, he said.

"The Maserati brand is not exactly a robust brand, anyway," DeMatio said, "so they may be thinking, 'Why not.'"

A Maserati spokesman declined to officially confirm where the SUV will be built or whether it would share Jeep engineering, referring instead to Marchionne's earlier statements.

Maserati did not announce pricing or fuel economy figures for the Kubang.

This will be the second time Chrysler and Maserati have worked together on a vehicle. The Maserati TC, which had a Chrysler engine, was introduced in the late 1980s and became a famous sales flop. A deck of playing cards -- printed by then-DaimlerChrysler many years later -- featured the Maserati TC and the bulbous 1970s AMC Pacer as the Jokers. To top of page

Find Your Next Car

Get the latest car news:

CNNMoney Sponsors

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.