The fu­ture of Fer­rari: new boss, new cars, new plan

Post-Mar­chionne, Fer­rari’s fans and in­vestors wanted an­swers. Now they have them – and Fer­rari’s wildest road car yet as a bonus. By Ben Miller

CAR (UK) - - Contents -

CON­FI­DENCE breeds suc­cess. But this sum­mer Maranello wasn’t ex­actly swim­ming in the stuff, as its For­mula 1 team squan­dered the fastest car on the grid and the sto­ried car maker reeled from the sud­den loss of chair­man Ser­gio Mar­chionne. Fer­rari and FCA share prices wob­bled in the wake of Mar­chionne’s pass­ing (on July 25), not helped by com­ments from new CEO Louis Camil­leri that the plan he in­her­ited was both ‘as­pi­ra­tional’ and faced ‘risks’.

Boost­ing in­vestor con­fi­dence was there­fore the pri­mary ob­jec­tive as Camil­leri took to the stage at Fer­rari’s Cap­i­tal Mar­kets Day in Septem­ber, even if it looked for all the world like the main event was the un­veil­ing of the new SP1 and SP2 Monza barchet­tas – the first cars from Maranello’s new Icona pro­gramme. With his crowd giddy and dis­tracted, Camil­leri moved in with a re­minder of the com­pany’s earn­ings re­silience, its con­sis­tently strong cash­flow and its plans to sig­nif­i­cantly ratchet up the av­er­age price of its cars. Then, more good news: 15 new mod­els be­tween now and 2022, still health­ier profit mar­gins (up from 22.7 per cent in 2017 to 25 per cent by 2022), and a €1.5bn share buy-back plan.

Mar­chionne had promised Fer­rari’s first SUV in 2020 and a €2bn EBITDA (earn­ings be­fore in­ter­est, taxes, de­pre­ci­a­tion and amor­ti­sa­tion) no later than 2022. Camil­lieri’s pushed the SUV back 18 months and ad­justed the 2022 EBITDA tar­get to €1.8bn-€2bn. The ‘rev­o­lu­tion­ary’ SUV, named the Purosangue (mean­ing thor­ough­bred) is set to ar­rive in late 2021 be­fore hit­ting full pro­duc­tion in ’22. While many of us are wait­ing on the Purosangue’s ar­rival as a pa­tient waits for the den­tist’s drill – with re­luc­tant con­sent – share­hold­ers can’t wait, their en­thu­si­asm fired by all that the Cayenne and Ma­can have done for Porsche. So why the de­lay? ‘Breath­ing time,’ said Camil­leri, ‘in or­der to meet our am­bi­tions for what will be an ex­tra­or­di­nary ve­hi­cle’. He also re­peated Enzo Fer­rari’s as­ser­tion that the

best Fer­rari is al­ways the next one. If that’s true of the SUV it’ll be one hell of an achieve­ment…

Said Camil­leri: ‘I ab­hor hear­ing the word SUV in the same sen­tence as Fer­rari. It does not sit well with our brand. This ve­hi­cle will be unique, and it will re­de­fine ex­pec­ta­tions.’ He also ad­mit­ted to ini­tial doubts. ‘I was scep­ti­cal when we first dis­cussed the con­cept but now, know­ing the re­sources be­hind it, I am an en­thu­si­ast.’

Tech­nol­ogy of­fi­cer Michael Hugo Leit­ers con­firmed that his team is work­ing on a new sus­pen­sion sys­tem for the ve­hi­cle – ‘a high-range sus­pen­sion ca­pa­ble of both com­fort and sport’. The Purosangue will sit on Fer­rari’s fron­tengined, four-seat plat­form, de­vel­op­ment of which will con­tinue along­side that of the mid/rear-en­gined plat­form, both of which will be hy­brid com­pat­i­ble.

By 2022 60 per cent of Fer­rari’s out­put will be hy­brid, with Leit­ers de­scrib­ing hy­brids as a zero-lag en­abler of – rather than a sub­sti­tute for – tur­bocharg­ing, and a key tech­nol­ogy in en­sur­ing Fer­raris re­tain the re­spon­sive­ness for which they’re fa­mous.

Leit­ers is also busy on a new flag­ship su­per­car, de­scribed as ‘linked to the

488’s re­place­ment’ and ‘from the stan­dard range’ but with per­for­mance su­pe­rior to that of the LaFer­rari. The GT range will also be ex­panded, with Fer­rari keen to build on the ‘en­try-level’ Cal­i­for­nia/Portofino’s suc­cess in re­cruit­ing Fer­rari vir­gins. Lastly, Leit­ers con­firmed that a tech­ni­cally pro­gres­sive V6 is in de­vel­op­ment – though Camil­leri was quick to dash hopes of a reborn Dino.

Growth across the board, then, plus a new prod­uct fam­ily. Dubbed Icona and spear­headed by the SP1 and SP2 Mon­zas, they’ll be built in lim­ited num­bers and with a fre­quency Camil­leri re­fused to be drawn on. They’ll boost rev­enue with­out adding much to pro­duc­tion vol­umes or dam­ag­ing brand eq­uity, and they’ll mine Fer­rari’s back cat­a­logue for in­spi­ra­tion.

De­scribed by Camil­leri as ‘a glo­ri­ous man­i­fes­ta­tion of Fer­rari’s DNA’, the Icona project was in­sti­gated on Mar­chionne’s watch – the Mon­zas were two years in the mak­ing. Based on the 812 Su­per­fast (com­plete with rear-wheel steer­ing), the SP1 and SP2 up the nat­u­rallyaspi­rated V12’s power out­put to 799bhp while cut­ting weight for a 0-62mph time of 2.9sec and 0-125mph in 7.9sec.

The ab­sence of a roof and a wind­screen (Fer­rari talks of a Re­nault Sport Spi­der-like ‘vir­tual wind­screen’) is key to the Monza’s ap­peal, which head of prod­uct mar­ket­ing Nicola Boari de­scribes as ‘the em­bod­i­ment of the pas­sion of our founder; the purest and most in­tox­i­cat­ing driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, with very lit­tle be­tween you and the as­phalt’.

An up­per body in F1-grade com­pos­ites, in­clud­ing kevlar and car­bon­fi­bre, cuts weight while giv­ing de­sign di­rec­tor Flavio Man­zoni and his team the free­dom to re­alise what he de­scribes as ‘the el­e­gance of the past fused with an un­com­pro­mis­ing ar­chi­tec­ture and a mod­ern ap­proach, and not a nos­tal­gic ap­proach’.

In­spired by the 750 Monza racer of the ’50s, Man­zoni’s cre­ation is a nicely con­tem­po­rary Fer­rari form, one that deftly draws on the past while work­ing hard to avoid ac­qui­esc­ing to retro. Here you sense ten­sion be­tween Man­zoni’s fiercely pro­gres­sive di­rec­tion and Camil­leri’s talk of ‘be­ing in­spired by the past, tai­lored to the present’. Let’s see how that pans out, but more than ever we might need a good slug of sweet, sweet nos­tal­gia to help swal­low the bit­ter pill of progress.

Won­der if Enzowould have pre­ferred the SUV (CAR’s com­puter ren­der­ing is top right) or the V12 barchetta? Hmm… New boss Camil­leri has asked for more time in which to ‘per­fect’ Fer­rari’s SUV, the Purosangue

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