Pirelli Teams Up With Maserati In US Race Series
Pirelli and Maserati have announced that the Italian tyre manufacturer is to be the sole supplier of tyres and tyre technology to the Ferrari-owned sports car manufacturer, beginning immediately. The partnership will have a high profile in motorsports, with Pirelli tyres being fitted next year on to vehicles in the Maserati Trophy, a brand-name race featuring the company’s cars. In 2004, Pirelli P Zero tyres will be fitted on Maserati cars in the GT race circuit.
This series is extremely popular in the USA, more so than Formula One, and Maserati is focusing its efforts on the North American market.Maserati’s Spider and Coupe, which sell in the US for around $100,000, were named as “must-have” items for affluent Americans by two leading lifestyle magazines and around 1,000 cars are expected to be sold this year. A new four-door sedan will be launched next year and, by 2006, Maserati hopes to sell 45 per cent of its global total of 10,000 vehicles in North America.
As well as being used for racing, Pirelli tyres will be fitted on Maserati road-going cars.Ferrari has a close relationship with Bridgestone, who supplies the company with Formula One tyres and whose tyres are exclusive fitment on the new Enzo. Pirelli has steered clear from F1 and, at a press conference, Pirelli Chairman and Chief Executive Marco Tronchetti Provera, sitting next to Ferrari Chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, described F1 as “too expensive.
” “Formula One teams ask for exorbitant amounts when they should be paying us” he joked.Peter Tyson, Pirelli’s director of sports brands and vice-president, marketing for North American operations, confirmed that North America was high on Pirelli’s list of priorities too. While the tyre market is growing at 2 per cent a year at best, the high performance sector has shown annual growth of up to 20 per cent and Pirelli says that it has out-performed the market in this sector.
In 3Q, the tyre division reported operating earnings of 150 million Euros on a turnover of 667 million Euros, with a profit margin of 7 per cent of sales. When asked if the economic slow-down would impact negatively on sales, Tyson said that, although the tyres are expensive, they are cheap compared to the total cost of owning and driving a high-performance sports car. “And people who have them are not going to be so crazy as to skimp on road-handling performance and ultimately safety” he added.
Tronchetti Provera said that the technological co-operation with Maserati would take up 15 per cent of Pirelli’s sports budget, which he declined to quantify, for fear of giving away information to competitors. However, Pirelli’s sports budget is part of the tyre division’s R&D budget, which last year stood at 125 million Euros..