The Maserati Alfieri concept car is displayed at the group's stand of the Geneva Motor Show, on March 4, 2014. AFP PHOTO / PIERRE ALBOUY

Geneva Motor Show - Fiat Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne says the two-door Alfieri coupé concept that caused such a stir in Geneva could go into production in little more than two years, if it gets the green light.

In purely mechanical terms the prototype unveiled at the show - named after one of the brand's founding fathers, Alfieri Maserati - is largely a parts-bin special; it's also a 100 percent functional runner.

"The platforms and engines are there," Marchionne said.

"Technically, production could start in 24-28 months."

The revival of Maserati and the relaunch of Alfa Romeo are key elements in Fiat's plan to move back into the black in Europe by 2016. Maserati's performance in 2013 was encouraging; profit tripled as deliveries more than doubled to 15 400.

But that's still a long way short of its 50 000 target for 2015; the success or otherwise of the Maserati and Alfa Romeo renaissance will decide whether Fiat survives in a difficult European market.

Maserati will have to pull off a delicate balancing act to emulate the success of BMW, Mercedes and Audi with more affordable models without tarnishing one of the industry's most hallowed brands.


And while Maserati could unlock economies of scale with a move into bigger-selling categories, that would also invite fierce competition from the German establishment.

But Marchionne said he was optimistic about Maserati’s future, adding that productivity at its Italian plants had improved greatly and that the Alfieri sports car provided "an indication of things to come".

"The Maserati stand at Geneva," he said, "is living proof for me that Italians still know how to build great cars."