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Carmakers Like Ferrari or Lamborghini Might Not Have a Bright Future in the EV Era

Look around you. Everyone’s scrambling to secure raw materials for batteries and motors. Automakers are focused on making their idea of an EV as feasible as possible for everyone – including those with deep pockets and exclusive taste. Some very loved car brands won’t make it intact after the switch to all-electric passenger cars is done.
Ferrari 488 Spider Idling 26 photos
Photo: Derrick Payton on Unsplash
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Imagine it’s a quiet morning in a remote yet very posh French, German, Italian, or Swiss village. You’re sipping your coffee. There’s no wind. Nobody’s up yet. You enjoy the views and are thankful for how your life turned out to be. But something’s happening. A fading yet familiar noise appears. You’re focusing on it. The sound gets clearer and clearer by the second. You’re noticing some patterns but can’t put your finger on them yet. You start guessing what it might be. You’re thinking Ferrari, then Lexus, then Ferrari again, then Porsche, but as it comes ever so closer to your location, it slowly reveals itself, and you finally get it right. It was indeed a naturally aspirated V10-powered Lamborghini Huracan. You know, the 5.2-liter engine. It’s hard to confuse it with something else when you have the chance to hear it.

Now tell me how you’d be able to do the same thing with a Mercedes-Benz EQS or a BMW i4. You can’t. The sound of a great engine is what sets amazing cars apart from those that are created purely as a means of transport from point A to point B.

Granted, it can also be the reason why some people might end up hating the culture that revolves around this type of vehicle. Some enthusiasts don’t know when to use that fine-looking button to shut their exhausts up. It’s not always ok to let your engine do the introduction for you.

Where are we heading?

For now, we’re in uncharted waters. Automotive companies are doing their best to navigate this transition to zero-emission vehicles while slowly turning themselves into technology and mining entities. It will be extremely hard to survive in the battery-only decade without securing the much-needed rare earths.

On the other hand, customers are seeing prices that go only up with no intention of coming down soon. It feels like we’re all being put under a spell that, in the end, will make us all accept subscription-based offers for cars. Owning one might be considered a thing of the past in a decade or so.

Things are rapidly changing. We must adapt and, well, accept that cars of the future won’t transform small explosions into amazing noise. But how will automakers like Ferrari or Lamborghini do it? Will they go on the same path as other companies and choose to offer state-of-the-art in-car software and big batteries that automatically means heavy machines? Will they lobby for eFuels or spend money to develop hydrogen-powered cars known as fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs)? Because right now, nobody has a proper solution for replacing the engine noise. Not all cars can sound like spaceships from sci-fi movies, and having an electric SUV won’t turn legacy carmakers into overnight legends.

There’s already an all-electric hypercar nobody’s interested in. You won’t see it hung up on the walls in kids’ rooms or a lot of Instagram or TikTok posts. There’s no real hype for it. Nobody dreams of showing off or entertaining entire crowds with a silent car or one that sounds like a squeaky toy. Such a car may look spectacular and perform amazing, but it has no audio fingerprint that startles every molecule in youngsters and makes adults open their wallets. It’s the Pininfarina Battista – a marvelous-looking thing that boasts unworldly power figures, delivers impressive traction, and makes even the most skilled drivers fear for their lives in some embodiments.

Do you think kids talk about this Rimac-derived all-electric hypercar? No, it’s not happening. They’re not impressed by it. What’s worse is that it isn’t even their fault. We must give up on fossil fuels if we want to leave a habitable Earth for future generations, but I can’t see how certain desirable auto companies can remain relevant in this planned ban on the internal combustion engine. Like the Battista, Tesla’s Plaid version of its cars made some waves for a bit, but that’s all done and dusted. Everyone learned it can go very, very fast in a straight line, but only for a short distance and only until the battery drops to a certain level. The car also requires pre-heating for the battery pack just to make sure it can survive and deliver the expected performance these drag races entail.

No more noise, no more fun, no more harming the environment

The unmistakable Ferrari engine sound still lives inside the heads of many adults. Seeing a Lamborghini on the street makes kids go bonkers. Knowing a Lexus LFA is hiding somewhere near you that can make an appearance at any time brings a type of joy that nothing else can replicate. Who’s this happy or thankful for, let’s say, a Taycan? I can safely say that more people would rather see a 911 Carrera just cruising around.

But what about other luxury brands that will completely electrify their portfolio? Well, I think they’ll benefit the most from the EV era – if they do it right. This is Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Aston Martin, and now even Lucid territory. You can’t battle with these guys. Other than Lucid, the players in this space made a name for themselves. Their branding is immense. Let them develop self-driving, silent, incredibly well-optioned cars that come with a good range, and they’ll receive the orders they want. It’s not going to be easy, but they have a chance at leading the post-2030 period. Unfortunately for them, Tesla’s now holding the keys to the kingdom.

Ferrari stands for passion, craziness, sensuality, and speed amplified by orchestral V8 or V12 sound. Now there’s even a plug-in hybrid V6 that may fit this description, but a heavy, battery-powered vehicle… I can’t see how that’s going to help. Adding a speaker? That’s not going to cut it. Remember how much fun people poked at the BMW i8 for having such a thing installed on the hybrid supercar? They mocked the German carmaker for using a 1.5-liter engine in such a great-looking vehicle, while the 7 Series got a glorious V12.

Lamborghini will surely share the same fate if they don’t come up with something ludicrous. I can’t imagine the next Huracan being just another all-electric Audi. It can’t happen.

The form factor is in danger as well. Aerodynamics matter in the fight for good range. This means we get things like the Mercedes-Benz EQE or BMW iX that just don’t look cool anymore. The role of these cars is to create as little drag as possible. But how will you manage to go from a boxy-looking sedan to one that shares design cues with a blob? It’s not going to be easy.

Keeping all of this in mind, I can safely assume that carmakers will most likely try their best to impress us. They will have one or two shots at doing it right before serious problems will arise.

For now, Lamborghini and Ferrari are the brands that worry me the most. McLaren might as well join them. Their entire appeal is made from sound, looks, and power. While the latter will surely be solved with ease, I don’t know about the other two.
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About the author: Florin Amariei
Florin Amariei profile photo

Car shows on TV and his father's Fiat Tempra may have been Florin's early influences, but nowadays he favors different things, like the power of an F-150 Raptor. He'll never be able to ignore the shape of a Ferrari though, especially a yellow one.
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