Ana Paola Reginatto is the global head of emobility at Maserati, the luxury Italian vehicle manufacturer. Her role involves managing sales and marketing for all the future electric cars Maserati, which will have battery electric vehicle (BEV) versions of all its cars being launched from now on.
Ana has a history in the auto space with stints at big players including General Motors (GM), Volkswagen and Ford. Her journey into the world of electric vehicles started when Ana joined Nissan. After a few years with the company, Ana worked at the EV Business Unit for Nissan Europe. She went on to work in sales and marketing for the best-selling electric vehicle, the Nissan LEAF.
This was back in the early days of electric vehicles and part of Ana’s job was to promote them to potential customers and help with the transformation of mindset required to make the transition to clean driving. Part of the job was to understand the fast-moving technology and help others understand this and its importance of it on every level.
Following this Ana joined Directrice Générale France, who developed three- and four-wheeled electric scooters, working in embolity and advanced mobility solutions. Then last year she joined Maserati as the head of emobility. This is an exciting time with the launch of the brand’s first all-electric car in 2022 and Maserati going all-electric by 2025.
EDs: How did your journey into the automotive industry begin?
Absolutely by chance. I was 25 and at the beginning of my career in marketing and I was interviewing for a position within a headhunting agency. At a certain point in the recruiting process, they proposed for me to interview for a customer of theirs instead. This customer was General Motors, they were recruiting for the business support of the Regional Executive, and that’s how I started my automotive life. I have never thought of changing.
EDs: What was it that appealed to you about the industry?
When I started everything was so new to me. I didn’t even have a driving license. I am a curious person and I found myself in a team of extremely generous people, passionate about their jobs and for cars.
I entered this world by chance but fell in love with the dynamism of the daily job in sales and marketing, and by the continuous challenge of telling the customers a story of how our engineering and innovation can make their lives better.
EDs: When did you first start working on the emobility side?
In 2015, I was brought into the EV Business Unit in Nissan Europe by a colleague I admired and worked well with. He invited me to apply and I knew it would be a challenge.
In 2015 battery electric vehicles (BEVs) were still at the beginning. There was a lot to find out about customer expectations and usage of electric vehicles (EVs), and there was a great deal of change management in all we did.
All the discover-and-dare dynamics we got into made us a better team and we had fun all along, with great results. We were all different, from different backgrounds, but we had in common the willingness to speak up about the cool cars we were offering. It was a tremendously rewarding period that I will keep amongst the special memories of my career.
EDs: As a marketing and sales professional, was this a different challenge to working with conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles?
Definitely, that was a big part of why I jumped in and why we had so much fun. From 2015 to today customers knowledge of electric vehicles has evolved a lot and the reason they adopt it has evolved with this knowledge. In 2015 there was nearly no public awareness of how fun it is to drive an electric vehicle.
Today, people know about immediate torque and easiness to drive thanks to the one-pedal drive feeling. The feeling of individual social responsibility of doing something concrete for the environment has also grown, especially in the cities.
I think, all in all, we were and we still are talking to customers who are changing their views on what mobility means and what they expect from it. Talking to customers who are in the middle of a mindset transformation demands a marketing professional with a special listening attitude. You must be genuinely interested in what your customers want.
Then there’s the speed of reaction. BEVs are intrinsically technology-driven. The technology is fast in development, in acceptance and the evolution of user expectations. We, in the marketing of BEVs, need to be as fast as the technology, making sure the stories we’re telling are relevant to the customers while bringing forward the constant evolution of the benefits our technology offers them.
EDs: What drew you towards emobility?
When I was invited to apply for the Sales and Marketing Management of Nissan LEAF it sounded like a privilege. The team that had been built was made up of people that inspired me and Nissan has always been very serious about electric mobility. I was invited to join the team that would lead the transformation the company was investing in with the highest priority.
EDs: Did you drive an electric car at this point?
I had just started to drive a Nissan LEAF and it was so amazingly different, so much simpler, so intuitive. I felt like it would be great to be able to tell that story to customers all over Europe.
At a certain point, when I had just started working in the EV Business Unit, my then six-year-old daughter asked what I did as a job. We in marketing know it’s a tough question, it’s always hard to explain in concrete terms what we do.
I tried to explain it to her in simple words, saying I helped make people aware that there was a car, the car we drove, that didn’t harm nature. It sounded like a concept a four-year-old could understand, I even pointed out what an exhaust was and how ours didn’t have one.
A couple of days later, I was picking her up from school and chatting to parents and their kids in front of the school, when she turned around to a friend of hers and asked: “Does your mum’s car harm nature?”. The kid looked up at his mum, who looked at me and rolled her eyes. Then she said to her kid: “Yes, it does”. The kid immediately said: “And why do we do that?”, while my daughter proudly said: “Ours doesn’t.”
I think that’s when the pride of running Nissan LEAFs Sales and Marketing kicked in. My daughter and her friend had understood it all, why would you do it?
EDs: Have you had to adapt how you promote electric vehicles in different international markets?
That’s a big part of the job. Clean mobility is a trending topic in societies in Europe and around the world, that’s a fact. It’s been the case for a number of years now but different countries have adopted different schemes to incentivise clean mobility in urban areas.
When you build a plan to increase the adoption of BEVs in a country, you need to know you’re talking to potential customers that belong to a certain culture, that have a certain relationship to mobility and face different challenges in their daily lives.
Their government has taken certain measures over the years to incentivise the shift towards reducing urban pollution and that has affected their lives and their relationship with their cars. You need to get to know all the aspects so that you tell a story that is relevant to the change that those customers want to make to their mobility.
In this way, marketing for BEV is similar to marketing for any other car. It’s the job of a marketer to know who they’re talking to and be able to tell customers why this car is better for them than others might be.
The key is to create the links between “car” and “me” and make sure your communication is simple on those links, and that your salespeople facilitate that discovery by explaining it in a simple and meaningful way and by giving the customer the time to experience the car.
EDs: What led you to your current role at Maserati?
It matched two passions, as simple as that: Maserati and electric cars. I have lived in Italy for 15 years and spent my holidays in Italy. Maserati is a brand that I imagine as a dream brand. It brings out so much of what driving is about including fun, pride, performance and beautiful design lines.
When I got the call to manage electric Maseratis it was like an electric shock. You don’t say no to an electric Maserati. It was irresistible.
EDs: What does the role entail?
Managing sales and marketing for all the future electric cars from our brand. We’ll have battery electric vehicle (BEV) versions of all cars being launched from now on.
EDs: How have you found the experience working with higher-end electric vehicles?
High-end electric vehicles have to be relevant to higher-end car customers. They know what they want. It’s mostly linked to the innovation, the performance and the overall experience that the car and the brand can give.
Maserati customers are also fans, they feel the brand’s DNA matches what they think and what they feel, and we think of our BEV experience and storytelling in that way.
For us, it is the natural evolution for Maserati and it’s essential that the customers feel it this way. For me, it’s been surprising to see how much care for the details there are in a Maserati and it’s been enriching to think of the overall customer experience of electric vehicles around a performance and luxury car.
EDs: How do you think the luxury electric vehicle market will evolve over the next five years?
I think the luxury BEV has a tremendous potential and will fit into what luxury customers expect being BEVs to be. They’re easy to plug into everyday lives, when we think of connectivity and energy management, for example.
There’s also a big trend of matching luxury to environmental care and wellness, and again electric vehicles have everything it takes to be the choice of this customer group.