Marchionne: Ferrari will make the definitive electric supercar
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Marchionne: Ferrari will make the definitive electric supercar

You might be forgiven for thinking that Ferrari boss Sergio Marchionne was no fan of the trend towards electrification. In March of 2016, he told journalists: “with Ferrari, it’s almost an obscene concept. This is not Ferrari.” He also said that, if people wanted to see a self-driving Ferrari “you’ll have to shoot me first.” By the end of 2017, his views had softened somewhat.

While praising his “good friend” Elon Musk for advancements made by Tesla, he reiterated that he didn’t see how electric cars could be commercially viable. And, in October 2017, he raised the unusual concern that electric cars would actually up the amount of carbon emissions produced when we consider their “cradle-to-grave lifecycle.” However, that was then. This is now.

Ferrari will be making a battery-powered supercar to challenge Tesla at the high end of the electric-auto market. Speaking to the press last week, Mr. Marchionne said: “If there is an electric supercar to be built, then Ferrari will be the first. People are amazed at what Tesla did with a supercar: I’m not trying to minimize what Elon did but I think it’s doable by all of us.

Ferrari’s share price has doubled over the past 12 months

graph 0123 ferrari

SOURCE: Yahoo Finance

The first explicit signs that Marchionne had reversed his sentiment on electrification and autonomous driving came just a few weeks ago, when he spoke at the Detroit Motor Show (we covered his statements here). However, it’s not the first time Ferrari has had to reconsider its position on things. Marchionne’s last strategic plan before leaving the brand will also see it design its first Sports Utility Vehicle, and up the number of models it produces each year.

Marchionne is, understandably, concerned to protect both the iconic look and feel of a Ferrari along with its patented exclusivity. Of course, these considerations run in natural opposition to embracing the trends sweeping the wider industry – Ferrari, understandably, is set apart from the rest of the auto-industry. You don’t charge an entry price of $200,000 and build a history as the dominant supercar maker in the world by doing the same things as everyone else.

Still, there is a natural compromise that Ferrari has to make between protecting the things that make it great, and moving forwards into the auto-industry of tomorrow. Marchionne is a safe pair of hands, and what we know about his last strategic plan for the brand should give investors confidence that he has that balance just right.


Dominion holds Ferrari in its Global Trends Luxury Fund.

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