PARMA, Italy – Maserati North America says it will require dealers to boost their service staffs in the coming months in preparation for the launch of the ’05 Quattroporte sedan.

Deliveries of the Quattroporte are expected to begin in September. (See related story: Maserati Targets More U.S. Dealers)

Maserati plans to begin training service technicians in May at its technical training center in New York. The Italian marque will begin training dealer general managers and sales staffs in April.

U.S. Maserati dealers will boost service staffs as ’05 Quattroporte hits market.

“In April, we have a week (of training) in New York. All of our dealer managers and general managers will come, they will drive the cars and they will learn about the changes to our gearbox,” Adam Rowley, dealership operations manager for Ferrari Maserati North America, tells Ward’s.

Maserati plans to concentrate most of its training on Quattroporte’s DuoSelect transmission because of its unique features. The transmission is modeled after the Cambiocorsa used in the Spyder and Coupe models, although the programming has been changing to make gear changes smoother.

The DuoSelect features an electro-hydraulic system that does not perform as smoothly as a fully automatic transmission. The auto maker believes this new system will require dealer sales staff to spend more time with customers to familiarize them with the system.

“We’re going to ask them to go to the customer’s home and spend time with them, if that’s what it takes,” Rowley says.

Maserati also is asking dealers to boost their service staffs, as the Quattroporte will mark a significant increase in volumes for the auto maker from its current two model lineup. Because most Maserati dealers also own a Ferrari franchise – Ferrari SpA owns the Maserati brand – Rowley wants Ferrari technicians to be cross-trained on Maserati vehicles.

“Around 60 technicians will need to come in,” he says. “We’ve got about 120 technicians in the system that have been trained in Ferrari and some of them with Maserati. We’re going to get more and more cross training done.

“If you’ve got a showroom with Maserati and Ferrari, and you’ve got four Ferrari technicians and your Maserati specialist, eventually all five are going to be Ferrari and Maserati specialist technicians.”

Rowley says dealers must recruit technicians with electronic experience.

“(We’re telling our dealers) just don’t look for a guy who can change shock absorbers, clutches, find a guy who knows electronics,” he says.

The focus on electronics stems from Quattroporte’s new CAN-BUS electrical system, which is new for the Maserati brand. The level of multiplexing found in the vehicle has expanded, which requires service technicians to be more competent in electronic repair.

Besides technicians, Maserati is encouraging dealers to invest in new facilities for the Maserati and Ferrari brands. Rowley says many dealers already have complied, and the investment is beginning to pay off for both Ferrari and Maserati.

“When you have the one franchise as Ferrari only, sometimes the money required to invest (in a new facility) is difficult to justify,” he says. “When you have two franchises, suddenly the business case starts to stand out. That’s been a real positive.”