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2007 Detroit Auto Show; Maserati Adds Six-Speed Automatic Transmission to Quattroporte - VIDEO ENHANCED

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DETROIT Auto Show: At the Maserati press conference, Roberto Ronchi, CEO and general manager introduced the Quattroporte Automatic, with a new hydraulic six-speed automatic transmission. The new model was conceived especially for the North American market, to appeal to more customers who might have been put off by the manual transmission that was the Quattroporte’s sole offering previously.

"The automatic transmission is a complement, not a substitution," said Roberto Ronchi, CEO and general manager of Maserati SpA. "The DuoSelect is still available."

The transmission was developed in collaboration with ZF. It is designed to complement the performance of the 4.2-liter V8 engine in the low and medium range without limiting power by allowing gear changes up to 7,200 rpm. The six-speed can be operated manually using the gear selector on the center console, or by equipping the car with optional steering column–mounted paddles to control the gear changes. The DuoSelect manual transmission also uses Formula One–style paddles to provide gear changes without a clutch.

Otherwise the Quattroporte is unchanged. "We didn’t want to change anything about this extraordinary design by Pininfarina, which has won so many awards," said Ronchi. The Quattroporte has won 28 awards in the three years since its debut and sold 9,000 cars, a record for Maserati. The Quattroporte led a 90 percent increase in North American Maserati sales in 2005, and the company maintained the same volume in 2006. The addition of the Quattroporte Automatic is expected to boost sales in 2007.

"We are working to improve the quality of our cars to meet our customers’ expectations. We are improving in other areas, including financial services, to provide the right tools to the dealers, which will help our business in North America," Ronchi added.

Ronchi then announced a new captive finance unit for the company’s North American operations, Maserati Financial Services, in collaboration with CNH Capital. "We’re here to provide innovative financial and leasing services for these very special customers," said Steve Bierman, the new president of Maserati Financial Services.