Ferrari (+0.95%) suggests that it is open to embracing electrification
Challenge for supercar maker is preserving its DNA and what makes it special when an era of electrification actually brings greater democratization in terms of vehicle performance
There’s a reason that a prancing horse adorns the hood of every Ferrari that leaves the factory at Maranello, Italy – it’s an homage to the previous era’s technology, where a prancing colt was the fastest means of transport.
So, could the image of a combustion engine one day adorn the bonnet of your next Ferrari?
Possibly, if Ferrari Chairman John Elkann has anything to say about it.
The Italian manufacturer of supercars announced yesterday at its annual general meeting that it plans to unveil the first battery-powered Ferrari by 2025 (and no, it’s not the kind that your nephew potters around in the backyard with).
Speaking at Ferrari’s annual general meeting yesterday, Elkann’s comments suggest that views on electrification at the storied supercar maker have evolved, since Louis Camilleri resigned as CEO last year.
Even as rival Lamborghini embraced electrification (thanks in no small part to parent Volkswagen (+1.77%)), Camilleri expressed doubts throughout his tenure that Ferrari would ditch combustion engines.
Speaking with analysts last year before his resignation, Camilleri said he didn’t ever see Ferrari shifting to 100% electric vehicles and ruled out the company reaching 50% in his lifetime.
But while Ferrari has plenty of experience churning out mechanical horses and stuffing them into some of the most beautifully sculpted body shells, it has almost zero when it comes to electrification of its famed supercars.
To start with – there’s the engine and exhaust note – the idea of having to manufacture Ferrari’s signature sound using speakers (something that rival McLaren does) could offend the diehard Tifosi.
And unlike combustion engines, where engineering prowess contribute significantly to performance increases, electrification is in many ways a democratizing tool when it comes to vehicles – a Tesla Model 3 Performance outpaces a bigger and more expensive Model S 100D from zero to 60 mph by 0.4 seconds.
When the average electric family sedan can churn out near-supercar performance and supercar makers have to take to piping in exhaust and engine notes into the cabin to create the illusion of combustion engines, it’s no wonder that Camilleri was reluctant to turn Ferrari fully electric.
Yet burning fossilized dinosaurs was also not a long-term solution for a company that itself was at grave risk of becoming a dinosaur – Ferrari resisted launching an SUV until fairly recently, even while Lamborghini was happily selling its Urus SUV by the truckloads.
And while Lamborghini and McLaren have embraced electrification, Ferrari has been drifting rudderless looking for a CEO.
Elkann, the scion of the Agnelli family told investors yesterday that the search for a new CEO was speeding up, but was undeterred in Ferrari’s need to embrace electric vehicles,
“We are continuing to execute our electrification strategy in a highly disciplined way.”
“Our interpretation and application of these technologies both in motorsport and in road cars is a huge opportunity to bring the uniqueness and passion of Ferrari to new generations.”