Name won't be Kubang, but Maserati SUV coming

Associated Press
Harold Wester, CEO of Maserati SPA stands next to the Kubang sport luxury SUV concept after its unveiling at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
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DETROIT (AP) — The name will change, but the Maserati sport luxury SUV concept on display at the North American International Auto Show is close to the production model that will be built in Detroit.

Maserati hopes to sell about 20,000 a year of the SUV, mostly in the U.S. and China. The concept is now called the Kubang, but the vehicle will get a yet-to-be-revealed new name before it enters production.

Fiat SpA CEO Sergio Marchionne, whose Turin, Italy-based company controls Chrysler, Maserati and Ferrari, told reporters Tuesday that the vehicle could set a new benchmark for the U.S. auto industry.

"Hopefully this is the beginning of a longer process that legitimizes the American car-producing factories and making things well beyond what they've done," Marchionne said. "You don't have to go overseas to buy a great car."

The company said the SUV on display is generally similar to the production vehicle on the outside, though the interior will see more changes before it's completed.

At the Frankfurt Auto Show in September, Maserati showed off the Kubang concept, which it said at the time it planned to start building in 2013. The SUV will be built at Chrysler's Jefferson North assembly plant, and it's not yet known how many Detroit jobs production will bring.

An earlier concept of the Kubang that was shown at the auto show in Detroit in 2003 was never built.

Here's what's new:

POWER, SPEED and MILEAGE: Details weren't released, but the SUV will have an engine built by Ferrari, so it's bound to pack a punch.

LOOKS: The Kubang offers a fresh take on the luxury SUV, with a clean, powerful look that takes on some of Maserati's sports car features.

CHEERS: The Kubang is an example of Fiat's efforts to export Chrysler-built vehicles. It's a boost for the Detroit plant, which recently got word that it will get 1,100 new workers and a third shift to help build a Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel model for North America.

JEERS: Maserati is billed as an extremely premium brand, and it isn't known whether potential buyers will see the SUV as a true Maserati or a U.S.-made SUV with a fancy nameplate.

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