Ferrari working on ‘utility vehicle’
Analysts wonder if the carmaker risks diluting its supercar brand
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.
A Ferrari LaFerrari Aperta at the Paris Motor Show in September 2016.