Purosangue, profit and Ferrari’s most powerful V12 yet
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
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’.
FIRST OF SEVERAL
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.