Ferrari resists all-electric performance push

Sales of electric cars may still be a trickle but that trickle may yet become a flood if Toyota’s reported plans to mass-produce long range electric cars by 2020 come to fruition. Toyota’s decision coincides with Renault-Nissan’s recently announced plans to introduce an US$8,000 electric car to the Chinese market.

One manufacturer that won’t be joining in the electric revolution anytime soon however is Ferrari. While the exotic Italian intends to give all its new cars hybrid powertrains after 2019 it’s made it clear that it will be going all-electric over CEO Sergio Marchionne’s dead body.

Sales, power and performance

Ferrari’s move into hybrids has little to do with some newly found green conscience. Rather, it’s all to do with sales, power and performance. It currently sells about 8,000 vehicles a year but has ambitions to increase this. However, to sell over 10,000 a year it will have to meet fuel economy and emissions standards that it doesn’t have to comply with below that mark. So far it’s shrunk its engine capacities while adding turbocharging to improve its environmental credentials, but it sees its future in hybrids. Its La Ferrari uses the instant torque of its electric motor to smooth out gaps in the power band from its V12 engine.

Hybrid Ferrari powertrains have already found their way into Formula 1, whose cars are all powered by 1.6 litre turbo hybrids.

That Ferrari sound

So why is Ferrari not even considering all-electric cars? CEO Sergio Marchionne has gone so far as to describe the idea in colourful terms as “almost obscene”. Well it’s got nothing to do with performance, that’s for sure. The all-electric Tesla Model S can hit 0-100kmh in 2.5 seconds, matching La Ferrari or the Bugatti Veyron in sheer acceleration. No, Ferrari is eschewing all-electric drivetrains for one very sound reason – the sound that comes out of that motor. It’s an ear-splitting howl that Ferrari lovers just can’t get enough of. You can get an earful of it on Ferrari's website. For Ferrari and its customers, electric cars like the Tesla might go like Ferraris but they sure don’t sound like them.

Ferrari may have masterfully judged its niche market but ultimately may find itself the odd one out in the world of cars capable of “ludicrous speed” acceleration. German rivals Mercedes, Audi and Porsche are all bringing out luxury high performance electric cars.

But Ferrari’s love of its internal combustion howl brings other benefits to the exotic Italian as well. As the Australian Financial Review recently pointed out, while Ferrari could produce all-electric cars it would push up its R&D budget, which is already disproportionately high, impairing its profit growth. Right at the moment Ferrari’s profits are going along very nicely indeed, thankyou.

So it seems die-hard petrolheads will be relishing the screaming howl of a Ferrari for quite some time to come.

Photo credit: Ferrari

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Categories: Technology, Electric
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