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FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Italian luxury carmaker Maserati expects its sales to jump to about 16,000 cars this year from 6,300 last year, boosting the brand's profit margin by a "high single-digit" percentage, its chief said.
Should the forecasts prove correct, Maserati would smash its previous sales record of 9,000 cars in 2008. The company aims to sell 50,000 cars in 2015.
Selling more Maseratis is an important piece of brand owner Fiat's <FIA.MI> plan to return to profit in 2016 in Europe, where it lost 700 million euros ($928 million) last year in a shrinking market.
The sales growth is coming from the launch of the 110,000 euro ($150,000) Quattroporte sedan and the new Ghibli model, an entry-level sedan starting at 66,000 euros, CEO Harald Wester said at the Frankfurt car show on Tuesday.
"The product is key in this business. If you offer a real alternative in an attractive segment, you can attract the customers," he said, adding he saw 2013 revenue jumping to at least 1.2 billion euros from 634 million last year.
Maserati had about 17,000 orders at the end of July and 20,304 at the end of August, he said. July and August orders show that Maserati is adding 3,000 new requests per month.
Wester is counting on the upcoming Maserati sports utility vehicle, the Levante, to sell about 20,000 to 25,000 annually when it is launched in 2015, he said on Tuesday.
Wester said new customers were "coming from other premium brands," but could not provide a breakdown.
In China, the biggest market for the new Quattroporte, the average buyer age is 37 years old and 40 percent of the customers are women, he said.
Maserati will have 320 dealerships worldwide by the end of 2013, up from 250 at the end of 2011. Wester is targeting 420 to 450 by the end of 2015.
"If Europe doesn't recover, it won't make sense to invest a lot in the European dealer network," he said.
Maserati's profit margin should grow by a high single-digit percentage in 2013, Wester said.
For 2014, the executive said he is targeting sales of 40,000 cars and sees revenue "at 2-1/2 times 2012."
"Our goal is to have a double-digit profit margin in 2014," he added.
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(Reporting by Jennifer Clark; Writing by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Jonathan Gould and Mark Potter)