Ferrari announces things it is not going to do

Published: 29 September 2016

► Special Paris Q&A confirms: there will be no Ferrari four-door or SUV
► Self-driving Ferraris, continuation cars and manual ’boxes also out
► But hybrids and downsized engines are coming…

In addition to the public press conference, Ferrari always holds a private press Q&A at motor shows. Usually this is more a case of finding out what it isn’t planning to do in future, rather than what it is planning to do – so was Paris 2016 any exception?

While boss Sergio Marchionne didn’t put in an appearance, head of product marketing Nicola Boari, chief marketing and commercial officer Enrico Galliera, chief technology officer Michael Leiters and head of design Flavio Manzoni were all in attendance to set the record straight.

Tell me the good news…

Boari and Galliera are adamant that Ferrari remains ‘100% a sports car company.’

Not getting the point? Then let’s have it even clearer: ‘We have no plans to build a four-door or an SUV’. So it looks like the Lamborghini Urus isn’t going to have any Prancing Horse competition for a while, and the closest thing to a practical Ferrari remains the GTC4Lusso.

Better yet, ‘There will be no autonomous Ferrari in the foreseeable future.’

However, Boari did admit that Ferrari does plan to ‘leverage’ some of the associated technology – ‘But I’m talking about radars and cameras, not autonomous driving.’ This is an indication that Ferrari’s customers increasingly equate technology with premium luxury, so are likely to expect cars that are amongst the most expensive in their modern collection to have radar-guided cruise control and surround view monitoring systems.

Similarly, connected car technology will be leveraged to ‘enlarge the Ferrari experience’ rather than distract from it. ‘When you are driving a Ferrari we want you to concentrate…’

So far so good – what’s the bad news?

In these things someone always asks about manual gearboxes – though at least the success of the Porsche 911 R represents a contemporary excuse in this instance.

Boari responded by saying that Ferrari is about performance and Formula One-derived technology; making the stick shift is about as relevant in 2016 as the dinosaur. Galliera pointed out that from an actual product perspective the last Ferrari to be offered with a manual was the 2008 California. ‘I don’t know for sure, but I believe the total number produced was between three and five. The demand of the market was not there.’

He did then add that if you find one of these five for sale they’re probably worth a lot of money. But that’s due to collectors’ attraction to rarity rather than any driver-satisfaction demand. There will be no more manual Ferraris. Boohoo.

You haven’t mentioned electric cars…

According to Leiters, ‘Electric cars are interesting to us. Not for emissions but for performance. But we wouldn’t produce an electric car. Hybrid is right for us.’

This sounds bad, but we aren’t imminently in danger of seeing every Ferrari lumbered with a battery pack and motors.

‘There’s a lot for us to do. Today the weight is still too much. So we have a lot to do, but we are convinced that within a certain time there will be a step forward for Ferrari with an electric [hybrid] car.’

And what about a Ferrari V6?

Leiters again: ‘Hybrids, even with the next step technology you will still have extra weight, and you have to compensate for that extra weight. So it makes sense to combine [the hybrid technology] with more extreme downsizing, whether than be a V8 or V6 or whatever.’

We’re presuming that ‘whatever’ doesn’t mean Ferrari is considering a four-banger like Porsche; but the V12’s days are surely numbered.

What else won’t Ferrari be doing?

Building continuation racing cars like those Jaguar E-Type Lightweights. Classic motorsport is increasingly big business, so the temptation to knock out a few more 250 GTOs must surely be there.

But Ferrari is conscious of the need to protect the value of its back catalogue – as an investment portfolio as much as a brand – so is instead concentrating on increasing its connection with the classic car collector world by certifying (and restoring) older vehicles using the register it holds in Maranello of all Ferraris ever built. There will be no replicas or continuation cars ever permitted at any Ferrari events.

It’s also planning to hold its first ‘classic cavalcade’ in April 2017, when 70 classic Ferrari owners will be invited to participate in an Italian driving tour. There will be a similar event to mark the 55th anniversary of the 250 GTO in September, culminating in a display of this most sought-after model at the factory.

Despite this ever greater interest in all things historic, design chief Manzoni was also keen to point out that Ferrari will never build a retro car (presumably the various bespoke homages to Ferraris past such as Eric Clapton’s 458-based SP-12 don’t count).  ‘We aim to make new icons,’ he said.

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By CJ Hubbard

Former CAR magazine associate editor, road tester, organiser, extremely variable average wheel count

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