Maserati SpA expects to achieve its U.S. sales target of 1,200 units this year, despite recent dower predictions from other auto makers on the slowing market.

Maserati Spyder sells well in California.

Meanwhile, Maserati’s sister unit, Ferrari SpA, remains immune from the lackluster economy, with customers waiting up to three years for a new Ferrari.

A Maserati spokesman acknowledges the Italian luxury car maker, which returned to the U.S. market after a 12-year hiatus in 2002, is being mildly impacted by the weak U.S. economy. (see related story: Maserati Chief Optimistic Despite Missing ’02 Target)

Maserati’s new sedan, the Quattroporte, will debut at the Frankfurt motor show in September and be available in the U.S. late in the fourth quarter or early first-quarter 2004, the spokesman says.

“We are pretty much in line with that (1,200 sales level),” the spokesman tells Ward’s. “If the Quattroporte hits at the end of the year, we can meet that target.”

Without the sedan, it may be difficult to surpass the goal, although there’s little doubt the auto maker will top its 950-unit sales from a year ago: “We could easily go over what we did last year,” the spokesman says.

Maserati is trying to boost its image in the U.S. via placement in movies and television shows targeted at younger audiences. The brand has been featured in a number of music videos by urban artists and on such television programs as Fastlane and The Bachelor.

In a daring move, Maserati recently signed on with the UPN television network to be the featured vehicle on the network’s new urban television series, Platinum, a soap opera geared to the hip-hop generation. Maserati vehicles also will appear in the feature film Charlie’s Angels II, slated to debut later this year.

“We want to work on the glamour and mystique of the brand,” the spokesman says. “We’re trying to position the car in the right environment with the right events.”

Maserati’s link to the entertainment community is a natural fit, as California, the home of film making, accounts for 30% of the auto maker’s annual U.S. sales.