Incoming Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne says he will look at relaxing current production restrictions if demand warrants it, but insists that the company must remain highly exclusive and difficult to get your hands on no matter the new number.
Furthermore, any idea that it may look to follow Lamborghini — code for toying with things such as SUVs — is “gibberish”, he said.
The legendary Italian brand limits its annual production at present to 7000 vehicles in a bid to keep its cars ultra-exclusive and, just as important, away from the used market as much as possible. Being common is death to such a brand, goes the rationale.
Marchionne, 62, takes over as Ferrari head later this month, amid rumours of a rift with outgoing boss Luca Cordero di Montezemolo — the man who along with Marchionne imposed the 7000 restriction and defended it vociferously.
Rumours indicated the supposed rift between the pair — labelled this week by Marchionne as “horse shit” despite the markedly tense (backs turned) atmosphere between the pair in the intimate room in which we were among a small group to join them — centred on the issue of production.
Some predictions had Ferrari even looking at volume cars such as SUVs, something di Montezemolo this week labelled as unlikely to happen under Machionne’s reign with some wry Italian humour.
Above: Sergio Marchionne (middle) and Luca di Montezemolo (right).
“He wants to do a truck and a bus but I convince him otherwise, so we will continue to build the same cars! I don’t think you will see a Ferrari SUV in the near future. Or a four door,” he said in jest.
Marchionne discussed ways that Ferrari could grow its presence without ruining its image, and the fine line it had to tread. At stake is not just its strong name cache, but the profits it pumps into Fiat Chrysler’s coffers.
“The uniqueness of the brand, the uniqueness of the technical skills that sit within their house are at the core of what Ferrari is, not to mention the fact that it is an exclusive brand and it needs to be religiously fanatical about the number of cars that it builds a year,” Marchionne said.
“It cannot allow this to become in any way, shape or form an easily available product, and it needs to be desired, and I think people need to wait for some time to get their hands on a car.
“And just to clarify some of the gibberish that’s been going around the press in the last little while, people saying that they were going to turn Ferrari into Lamborghini. Even if we tried desperately to turn it into Lamborghini, I don’t think we could.
“Nobody's laughing and I wonder why…” he added with dry humour.
Above: Luca Cordero di Montezemolo
“But I think it's absolutely clear, at least from where I sit that all that work, in terms of the uniqueness, the exclusivity, technical prowess of the brand needs to be preserved. So you're not going to hear any significant deviation from that strategy that Luca put together and so we'll go merrily on our way.”
However, Marchionne said the Prancing Horse could be called on to increase its engineering input into other vehicles within the wider Fiat Chrysler portfolio, which Marchionne also runs.
“I still think that there is a piece of Ferrari that needs to, in terms of its technical skills, and they may become available to a larger audience but people will be buying engineering services and engines from them as opposed to cars.”
The issue of production volume was one that would be looked at, Marchionne said. The number of 7000 was not set in stone — a position that di Montezemolo never took since the policy’s inception.
“There is a point in time in which the, if the population of buyers, if the class of buyers expands and high net worth individuals, if a number of people who are capable of affording a Ferrari increases substantially from current levels then I think we have an obligation not to choke supply, without creating a problem in the used car market.
“… I think it would be unwise not to be continuously monitoring market performance in terms of the length of time that it takes us to deliver a car to a customer against what the competition is offering. If you have to wait 24 months to get a Ferrari you've waited too long,” he said.