Fer­rari work­ing on ‘util­ity ve­hi­cle’

An­a­lysts won­der if the car­maker risks di­lut­ing its su­per­car brand

The Hamilton Spectator - - BUSINESS - TOMMASO EBHARDT

Fer­rari is con­sid­er­ing adding a roomy four-seat “util­ity ve­hi­cle” as part of a ma­jor ex­pan­sion push be­yond its tra­di­tional su­per­car niche in a bid to dou­ble profit by 2022, peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter said.

The fi­nal five-year plan un­der chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Ser­gio Mar­chionne, who’s set to re­tire in 2021, will tar­get boost­ing an­nual de­liv­er­ies be­yond a self-im­posed limit of 10,000 cars, which al­lows the com­pany to op­er­ate with lessstrin­gent fuel-econ­omy rules, said the peo­ple, who asked not to be iden­ti­fied be­cause the mat­ter is pri­vate.

Un­der the plan, which is likely to be un­veiled in early 2018 and could ex­pose the car­maker to stricter en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions, Fer­rari will also build more hy­brid mod­els to im­prove its ve­hi­cles’ ef­fi­ciency and woo new wealthy buy­ers, the peo­ple said. A Fer­rari spokesper­son de­clined to com­ment.

Since tak­ing charge of Fer­rari in 2014, Mar­chionne has been push­ing vol­ume, al­ready blow­ing past an ear­lier cap of 7,000 cars. While that ap­proach risks di­lut­ing the brand’s ex­clu­sive ca­chet, the 65year-old flanked de­liv­ery growth with ex­clu­sive lim­ited edi­tion mod­els, such as the $2.1-mil­lion LaFer­rari Aperta con­vert­ible. He’s now seek­ing to dial up that ef­fort to se­cure Fer­rari’s in­de­pen­dence as the auto in­dus­try grap­ples with the strains of shift­ing to elec­tricpow­ered cars.

Among projects be­ing eval­u­ated is a four-seat fam­ily car that of­fers more space than Fer­rari’s two-door GTC4Lusso. The model is in­ter­nally dubbed the “Fer­rari util­ity ve­hi­cle,” fol­low­ing Mar­chionne’s pre­vi­ous ob­jec­tions to devel­op­ing an SUV. The big Fer­rari would be tar­geted at Asians.

Fer­rari is study­ing ways to en­sure its sporty style with the new car, which the man­u­fac­turer will try to mar­ket as a new in­dus­try seg­ment rather than as an­other high-end sport util­ity ve­hi­cle, fol­low­ing the likes of Maserati, Bent­ley and Lam­borgh­ini. The new auto, which could have two or four doors, is ex­pected to be sold from 2021, the peo­ple said. No fi­nal de­ci­sion on the model has been made. “There is a risk that an SUV could di­lute the Fer­rari brand,” Richard Hil­gert, an an­a­lyst at Morn­ingstar, said in an email. “If Fer­rari made a ve­hi­cle that has more space for oc­cu­pants, looks like a Fer­rari, sounds like a Fer­rari, and drives like Fer­rari, well — it’d be a Fer­rari,” but the com­pany would have to get it right, he said.

BLOOMBERG FILE PHOTO

A Fer­rari LaFer­rari Aperta at the Paris Mo­tor Show in Septem­ber 2016.

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