The name Roberto Fedeli might mean something to you, but probably doesn’t. He’s one of those behind-the-scenes guys, an unsung hero: Fedeli is the Italian engineering guru behind some of Ferrari’s finest modern creations, including the 458 Speciale and LaFerrari hypercar. After a quarter-century at Maranello, BMW managed to pry him away to work at the i Division in late 2014. Then, less than eighteen months later, Fiat-Chrysler announced it’d stolen Fedeli back, and would be making him head of engineering at Maserati and Alfa Romeo. Nice homecoming story, right? Turns out, there’s more at play here than we thought.
Fiat-Chrysler, it seems, rehired Fedeli not only to fine-tune kit like the Giulia Quadrifoglio, but in the interest of electric vehicle development. In an interview with Car and Driver, published on Friday, Fedeli confirmed he’s under orders from Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne to launch an electric Maserati as soon as possible:
"I think that we could show something before 2020. Maybe 2019. We are working to be ready with something that we can show during the next couple of years.
We will be last (with a production EV), and we have to arrive to the market with something different. Very different."
And by “something different,” he means a sleek grand touring coupe, not a Tesla-fighting sedan. Because, apparently, Fedeli isn’t much of a fan. He says they’re too heavy, too quiet, and sort of crappy in general:
"I don’t think that Tesla is the best product in the market but they are doing 50,000 cars a year. The execution and quality of the products of Tesla are the same as a German OEM in the 1970s. Their solutions are not the best."
And while an electric Maserati is still years away, confirmation of intent is a big deal here. It wasn’t long ago that Marchionne was railing against battery-powered cars, including his own, a position he’s slowly by surely been walking back with regard to Fiat-Chrysler's luxury arm. Siccing his smartest guy on an EV project for his favorite brand ain’t nothing. The gears are turning; something’s afoot. You just never know what Sweater Sergio has up his sleeve.