Sergio Marchionne: Building An Electric Ferrari Would Be “Obscene,” So Ferrari Will Never Make One

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.

Sergio Marchionne says he'd have to be killed before Ferrari made an EV.

Sergio Marchionne says he’d have to be killed before Ferrari made an EV.

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.

Marchionne is no stranger to controversy

Marchionne is no stranger to controversy

“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.

An electric Ferrari would be 'obscene' claims the company boss.

An electric Ferrari would be ‘obscene’ claims the company boss.

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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  • William


  • Expect a villain in the next Bond film will be driving a Ferrari. We can all guess what James (007) will drive. 😉

  • Matt Beard

    Motoring dinosaur would rather drive on dino-juice; big deal!

    His company may suffer in the medium term or it may even be the go-to brand for other dinosaurs, but he will probably not run it long enough for this attitude to bring it down. In the 2030s a company run on these principles will start to look like a company making steam-powered cars would have done in the late 20th century.

  • Michael Thwaite

    Chip on shoulder maybe? Fed up of owners calling him and asking why they’ve just lost the traffic light grand prix to a ‘mini-van’ with kids in the back blowing raspberries at them?

  • vdiv

    Reminds me of Baldwin Locomotive Works refusing to embrace diesel. By the time they emerged from bankruptcy it was already too late. At least they partnered with Westinghouse to make electric locomotives early on, but “only” because the steamers were too polluting in the cities.

  • Brock Nanson

    Mark down the date… March of 2016 Marchionne says NEVER to the idea of an electric Ferrari. That means he is either wrong or Ferrari will cease to exist in the next few years. The day isn’t far away when driving any ICE will be seen as ‘obscene’, which will put Ferrari drivers in a tough spot… Drive a nostalgic Ferrari and be labelled a douche, or find the new ‘Ferrari’ of the electric age in another company.

    Ferrari led the ICE pack for so many years, both in terms of performance and styling. It would be a shame to give that up now over a hissy fit from Marchionne. The marque is bigger than him.

  • Tufy

    Can someone please shoot him so I can finally get my electric Alfa Romeo? The only reason I’m waiting for Model 3 is because Alfa has no electric cars. I am a proud owner of an Alfa Romeo, but the simple fact is that the times are changing and Musk’s little company is posed to roll all over those who won’t adapt. Meanwhile, the germans are hard at work to catch up – if FCA stays behind, it’ll just keep on piling up losses in the next few years until it’s too late. One would think they’d get a hint from 500e sales :/

    • Electric Bill

      Re: Fiat 500e: there are, of course, two iterations of the Fiat 500– the EV, and the ICE model. The ICE version has had poor ratings for reliability, whereas my friends with their 500e’s are quite satisfied, and would apparently be happy to continue buying and/or leasing the newer models as they are available. Marchionne must be ready for a stroke by now… but just so long as mandates force him to make the e’s, that is fine with me.

  • Electric Bill

    Marchionne ‘ s marriage to the throbbing reminds me of some of my earliest memories, my buddies stealing playing cards from their mom’s Pinochle deck, and attaching them to the forks of their bicycles to get that same silly throb. Even back then it seemed so silly to me.

    Marchionne, to be honest, is not the only one we to noises and Luddite machines. There are thousands all over the world nostalgic for steam trains, steam cars, and all manner of old techs, not necessarily because, it is BETTER, but because it harken a back to earlier times, or just because it is different. Long after EVs swallow up the car market, we can be sure there will be motorcyclists and four-wheeled motorists with their umbilicals firmly attached to machines that are every inch less practical and less speedy, and freely admitting to the rest of us that their much-loved anachronisms are not loved for being BETTER, but for their uniqueness and to preserve past moments in our timeline.

    But that is the nature of humans, and part of why we have survived as a species– variation of generation, and survival of the fittest. Let them have their fun, just so long as they do not hamper our own progress. Soon enough there will not be enough of them to actually matter.

  • Ralph Wolf

    Ferrari wants to secure their status in the history books as having made the very best cars of the 20th century.

    It will be written in a small font, to save space, right after whoever it was that bred the very best horses in the 19th century….