Most electric car owners cite the super-smooth ride, torque-filled acceleration and subtle hum of an electric motor as being just some of the many joys of owning an electric car. Some even say the high-pitched whine of hard acceleration is as addictive as the roar of a V-8 engine.
But while we’d have to agree the hard acceleration of a Tesla Model S P90DL is more than enough to make up for the throbbing sound of a high-power sports car engine, Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne — who is also the chairman of Ferrari — would disagree. Talking to a room full of journalists on the opening day of the 2016 Geneva Motor Show, the Ferrari boss described his discomfort driving a Tesla Model S for the first time.
The comparative silence was so unnerving for the automotive executive reports CNN that he found himself turning up the radio to fill the silence.
While that statement may very well have some electric car fans scratching their heads in disbelief, Marchionne, who retained his leadership of Ferrari when the company spun off from Fiat Chrysler late last year, used it to justify why the automaker would never make an all-electric model.
“With Ferrari, it’s almost an obscene concept,” Marchionne said of the idea that Ferrari would one day build an electric supercar.
“You’d have to shoot me first,” he continued, although we’d note this isn’t the first time a Ferrari executive has dismissed an idea, only for it to eventually seep into the corporate lineup a decade or so later.
At the moment, Ferrari does make the super-expensive $1.4 million LaFerrari plug-in hybrid alongside its more traditional models and is no stranger to hybrid drivetrains in recent years. But the idea of removing the internal combustion engine completely in favour of a powerful electric motor is something that Marchionne just can’t envisage.
“This is not Ferrari,” he said of his experience behind the wheel of the Tesla Model S.
Of course, this isn’t the first time Marchionne, a confirmed electric car skeptic, has made headlines expressing his vehement dislike of electric cars. Back in 2014, Marchionne told electric car fans not to buy the all-electric Fiat 500e, since it cost the automaker $14,000 in losses every time one was sold. The Fiat 500e, a so-called ‘compliance car’ was originally produced to satisfy California’s ZEV mandate. Like many compliance cars built by reluctant automakers to keep regulators happy however, the Fiat 500e has proven extremely popular with long-time and new electric car fans thanks to its powerful electric motor, go kart-like handling, and low center of gravity.
“I will sell the (minimum) of what I need to sell and not one more,” Marchionne had ranted at that time. “If we just built those vehicles, we’ll be back asking…in Washington for a second bailout because we’ll be bankrupt.”
Since then, Marchionne has regularly aired his negative views on plug-in vehicles, even as Fiat Chrysler unveiled the all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid minivan. Alongside his mistrust of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, Marchionne is known for his hatred of autonomous driving systems, describing them in an equally negative light.
But while Fiat Chrysler will inevitably end up producing both electric and autonomous vehicles at some point in the future, if only to meet emissions regulations and perhaps keep both brands competitive in the mainstream marketplace, Ferrari’s super-niche market existence means it has far less targets to meet.
Indeed, with global production at under 8,000 units per year, the Italian supercar manufacturer is considered low-volume enough in most markets to circumvent all kinds of emissions targets. Its existence as a stand-alone automaker also means there’s no ties with larger automakers that could theoretically cause that status to be jeopardized.
Unlike other prestige and high-performance automakers like Porsche and Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari has no intention of even attempting to beat Tesla Motors at its own game. And that, depending on who you talk to, could either relegate Ferrari to the history books, or perpetuate its existence as the plaything of the wealthy one percent.
We’re curious as to which you think it will be in the Comments below.
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