Ferrari SpA will turn to fuel-saving hybrid technology to create its most powerful and expensive model, showing that even elite performance cars are under pressure to get greener.
The Italian automaker’s first hybrid, dubbed the F70 in trade press and blogs, will probably surpass the 660,000-euro ($850,000) price of the limited-edition Enzo, said a person familiar with the plan.
Using technology developed for Formula One racing, the model will combine two electric motors with a 12-cylinder gasoline engine to produce more horsepower than any previous Ferrari, while cutting fuel consumption 40 percent.
“Dedicated Ferrari drivers look first at power and technology,” said Fabio Barone, chairman of the Passione Rossa owners’ club, who has two Ferraris. “The new Enzo will satisfy their appetite.”
The model is part of a wave of green supercars as high-end automakers step up efforts to make their models environmentally palatable, while still maintaining or boosting performance. As more models become available and emission rules tighten, sales of hybrid supercars may surge from less than 100 this year to more than 2,100 in 2015, according to IHS Automotive.
Porsche AG, which currently sells hybrid versions of the Cayenne sport-utility vehicle and Panamera four-door coupe, plans to start deliveries next year of the 768,000-euro 918 Spyder. The top-of-the-line Porsche sports car will combine a 500-horsepower engine with 218-horsepower electric motors to hit a top speed of more than 320 kilometers (199 miles) per hour.
Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW) will roll out the i8 plug-in hybrid in 2014. The BMW supercar will be able to drive up to 35 kilometers on electric power and accelerate to 100 kilometers per hour in less than 5 seconds.
“If you want to sell a vehicle in the U.S. and Europe, you must show you want to make the difference in terms of lower emissions, even if you sell a 100,000-euro car,” said Ian Fletcher, an analyst at IHS Automotive in London. “Even a supercar becomes more usable for city driving if it carries a hybrid engine.”
Toyota Motor Corp. (7203)’s Lexus, which has led the way among luxury-car makers in introducing the technology, offers five hybrid models, ranging from the $29,120 CT to the $112,750 LS. Daimler AG (DAI)’s Mercedes-Benz sells the $91,850 S-Class hybrid and introduced a diesel-electric version of the E-Class in Germany this year. Volkswagen AG (VOW)’s ultra-luxury Bentley brand is considering a plug-in hybrid version of a planned SUV.
The Ferrari hybrid will go on sale starting next year, with the U.S. likely to be the model’s biggest market, the person said, declining to be identified because the plans have not yet been made public. Ferrari will produce a limited number of the model, with the final price yet to be decided, the person said.
Ferrari, based in Maranello in northern Italy, will show the heir to the Enzo later this year, Chairman Luca Cordero Di Montezemolo said in a May 10 statement. Ferrari declined to comment on the vehicle beyond the statement.
The original model, which sports wing doors, a carbon-fiber body and 660-horsepower engine, was named after Ferrari’s founder. It is limited to a run of 400 vehicles between 2002 and 2004. Because of its rarity, it now sells for about $1 million, according to website infomotori.com.
Enzo owners include singer Eric Clapton and Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason. Some have been destroyed in spectacular crashes around the world. A red Enzo was found abandoned in the desert near Dubai last month.
Ferrari, the most profitable unit of Fiat SpA (F), is rolling out the new flagship as part of a strategy to boost profitability with high-end versions while restraining deliveries to about 7,000 cars a year to guard its exclusivity.
The supercar brand is also seeking to boost revenue with its “tailor made” personalization program, adding touches like cashmere-covered seats to increase prices by 20 percent to 60 percent. Ferrari’s first-quarter operating profit rose 13 percent to 60 million euros helped by “good” results from the program, Fiat said last month.
The Enzo successor will be powered by the Hy-Kers hybrid technology, which was developed for the brand’s Formula One team. In the system, an electric motor delivers an extra 100- horsepower to the wheels by operating through one of the gearbox’s two clutches. The setup transfers power “instantaneously” between the 12-cylinder engine and the electric motor, Ferrari said on its website.
“Boosted by the electric motors, the new supercar may have more than 900 horsepower,” Ferrari club chairman Barone said. “It’s going to be a sensational car, and it also lowers emissions.”
-- Editors: Chris Reiter, Rick Schine
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