While many folks still think of battery power as a way to create fuel-efficient, albeit boring, automobiles, Ferrari is looking at electrification as a way to boost both performance and sales.
Speaking to industry analysts following release of the company’s earnings this week, CEO Sergio Marchionne said Ferrari would like to be selling as many as 10,000 vehicles annually in the near-future. But to do that, it would probably add some sort of hybrid technology to every vehicle in the brand’s line-up by 2019.
Ferrari has already used a Formula One-derived hybrid system for the flagship LaFerrari. And it’s not alone in looking at its battery options. Porsche has the high-performance Mission E under development, Aston Martin developing a battery-electric version of its Rapide. And there’s also the Tesla Model S with its Ludicrous mode. Even Mercedes-Benz is looking at a variety of battery-based options for its AMG line.
(AMG working on F1-inspired hypercar. Click Here to learn more.)
Since spinning off Ferrari in an IPO and then taking on duties as the Italian brands CEO, Marchionne has made an aggressive push for growth. Long averse to expansion, fearing that it could dilute its exclusivity, Ferrari volume climbed 6% last year, to 7,664 vehicles. And it will deliver somewhere in the neighborhood of 8,000 vehicles for all of 2016. But Marchionne will push that to 9,000 by 2019, if Marchionne, also CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, has his way, and then go beyond.
“Although I neither commit to this nor do I give any sort of certification of it being our objective, it is possible that the number could be well in excess of 10,000 cars in 2025,” Marchionne said during the analyst call, according to Automotive News.
But there are challenges getting up into five figures. There’s not only the issue of exclusivity – though other makers have found demand quite elastic for even the most exclusive brands. Topping 10,000 vehicles subjects Ferrari to various U.S., European and Chinese emissions and mileage laws.
Just like bigger brands, it could be stuck having to deliver zero-emission vehicles, or at least models that could switch to battery-only mode in, say, cities like London that are starting to penalize or even ban the use of internal combustion engines.
So, Marchionne said he is looking at a “fundamental shift” that could include hybridization and, perhaps, even more advanced zero-emissions technologies. But to salve concerns of those who might have a hard time imagining an electrified Ferrari, the CEO stressed that such an approach has the potential to “even yield additional performance.”
Of course, the Italian automaker knows that first-hand as a member of the Formula One elite. And no one is likely to argue about the power and performance of the LaFerrari.
(Derrari reveals Aperta, its fastest-ever convertible. Click Here to check it out.)
That’s the mindset competitors such as Aston Martin are taking into future product development. Virtually every high-line manufacturer is now working on one form of battery-based vehicle or another, some working on a variety of different approaches.
There is, of course, the possibility this push could short-circuit if the incoming U.S. administration takes steps to back away from the mileage and emissions goals of the outgoing Obama Administration. But considering the Chinese government and European regulators are all sticking to their electric guns, the strategy seems unlikely to derail.
Meanwhile, Marchionne told analysts he is looking at other opportunities for Ferrari that might shift away from its traditionally narrow product focus. While sedans and SUVs don’t seem to be in the works, the success of the new V-8-powered GTC4Lusso T, a four-seater coming in at a lower price point than the old V-12 model, has Ferrari looking at new options.
Going forward, it will “look at the extension into luxury at a more reasonable pace,” explained Marchionne.
Automotive News quoted Exane BNP Paribas analyst Stuart Pearson as saying the executive might be striking a good balance. “This could be a material positive,” said Pearson, “and, combined with a focus on hybridization, could allow Ferrari to breeze through the 10,000 volume cap.”
(Click Here to check out the new Ferrari GTC4 Lusso.)