Ferrari Plans to Be the Last Bastion of ICE Cars, Also EV Ready When Time Comes

If you think about it, these days, Ferraris aren't necessarily the best at anything: there are faster cars, more luxurious cars, and perhaps even more beautiful cars, though that one will always be subjective.
Ferrari 296 GTB 17 photos
Photo: Ferrari
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Despite that, the Italian manufacturer still occupies a key place in the international automotive landscape as the world's most renowned car brand, and that's because it has something that's hard to quantify and even more difficult to gain: character. Thanks to the carmaker's history and the sanctimonious care for its brand image shown over the years, Ferrari now falls only a little short of qualifying as a religion.

Well, that sort of identity was built, among other things, by using strong statements such as "we laugh at those who build SUVs" and "we'll never make an electric vehicle because EVs lack soul" (not actual quotes, but the idea is the same). However, we all know how the former panned out - the Purosangue should be with us soon - and the first hybrid models suggested the writing was on the wall for Ferrari's separation from the electrification trend.

It's been over eight years since Ferrari introduced its first hybrid, though (the LaFerrari hypercar), and we're still not any wiser to the company's plans for releasing an electric car. This was enough to give people hope that Ferrari could find a way to keep itself off the electrification train, but it turns out the Italians might actually be running at full speed trying to catch it.

The first obvious sign came earlier this year when the company announced its new CEO - a man called Benedetto Vigna who had previously helmed STMicroelectronics, a chip-making enterprise. This move was more powerful than any PR statement: the future CEO of Ferrari is not going to be someone with long-lasting ties to the automotive world, but someone coming from the tech industry.

Now, thanks to what John Elkann - the current Ferrari CEO - said in a recent earnings call, we get a slightly more in-depth look at what the Italian company has in store. The electrification plus downsizing trend was made obvious by the release of the hybrid V6-powered 296 GTB, yet the talk about electrification at Ferrari is increasing, and it's even covering the prospect of hydrogen fuel cells at times.

The CEO did his best to avoid talking about an all-electric Ferrari model explicitly - and did a very good job at it - yet it's clear the company isn't blind to everything that's going on around it. With sales of cars using internal combustion engines set to be banned in the world's most important markets in less than two decades, it's not like it really has a choice.

It doesn't, but it sounds like the Italians are going to push the moment of full conversion as far away as possible, focusing on improving their hybrid vehicles in the meantime.

"And all what we've learned in the hybridization [...], [is] really giving us the opportunity of unchartered waters in terms of what we could see applied. I also think that the opportunity set that we have as Ferrari is really one we're having the opportunity of having a much wider set of technologies, of which electrification is one, will enable us to be even more inventive and innovative," John Elkann said.

It sounds to us like Ferrari is going to develop EV technology stealthily, in parallel with (and helped by) its hybrid models. The idea is to have a competitive BEV product ready when the market will demand it, but no sooner than that. That's probably the best course of action Ferrari can take right now since making the transition too abrupt, even if successful from a technological stance, could still alienate some of its core audience.

Another aspect that supports this theory is just how reluctant the CEO was to talk about any timelines. He mentioned the 2030 - 2040 decade as being key, the same ten years that also happen to be the last before the big ban on selling new ICE cars. Ferrari will take its gasoline engines to the wire, which is probably one of the least surprising things you'll hear all week. The real question is how ready it will be to whatever lies beyond that hypothetical wire.
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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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