Aug. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Ferrari SpA plans to build more hybrid vehicles following the success of the 1 million-euro ($1.34 million) LaFerrari as the manufacturer works to attract environmentally conscious wealthy buyers.
“I don’t believe in the electric cars, but I strongly believe in hybrids,” Chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo said in a Bloomberg Television interview with Sara Eisen at the manufacturer’s headquarters in Maranello, Italy.
Ferrari, the most profitable unit at Turin, Italy-based Fiat SpA, unveiled the LaFerrari sports car at the Geneva Motor Show in March. The 963-horsepower hybrid, which is already sold out, is part of Montezemolo’s strategy of boosting earnings with customized versions of its vehicles while restricting their availability to enhance exclusivity.
Ferrari is part of a growing trend by automakers to offer high-performance cars with reduced emissions. Porsche AG will present the $845,000 production version of the 918 Spyder next month at the Frankfurt auto show, while Bayerische Motoren Werke AG will showcase the i8 plug-in hybrid supercar. Land Rover said today it will start selling its first hybrids, two sport-utility vehicles, in the U.K. in September.
Production of high-end hybrid cars may increase almost tenfold to 56,364 vehicles in 2016 from 5,938 last year, according to an estimate from research firm IHS Automotive.
“It makes sense to test new technology with luxury and high-end cars as customers tend to be less price sensitive, and more willing to pay for additional technology,” said Sascha Gommel, an analyst with Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt. “In addition, hybrid technology could make a sports car even more dynamic as an electric powertrain improves the acceleration.”
Using technology developed for Formula One racing, the LaFerrari combines two electric motors with a 12-cylinder gasoline engine to produce more horsepower than any previous Ferrari model, while cutting fuel consumption by as much as 40 percent.
Land Rover’s hybrids accelerate to 100 kilometers (62 miles) per hour in under 7 seconds, with a top speed of 225 kph, while cutting emissions 26 percent, the U.K. company said.
Ferrari will also look to expand sales beyond vehicles, such as licensing merchandise with its prancing-horse logo.
“I want to have different Ferraris for different Ferraristi,” Montezemolo, 65, said in the July interview. “We have a lot of parallel activities that can increase revenues without being obliged to produce more cars.”
Montezemolo, who has been chairman since 1991, has transformed Ferrari into a cash machine, accounting for about 10 percent of Fiat’s 2012 operating earnings.
The division’s worldwide first-half earnings before interest, taxes and one-time items widened to 15 percent of sales from 13 percent a year earlier. That compares with a 4.9 percent trading-profit margin for the parent company’s mass-market nameplates in North America and 7.7 percent for those businesses in Latin America.
Ferrari, whose line-up includes the F12berlinetta and four-seat FF, plans to reduce deliveries by 400 cars this year to about 6,900 vehicles.
Montezemolo aims to match last year’s record profit of 350 million euros in 2013, excluding contribution from LaFerrari deliveries, by increasing licensing revenue and adding more lucrative personalized add-ons for its cars, such as cashmere seats and carbon-fiber liners for the trunk.
The LaFerrari sold out even before being shown. Ferrari plans to make only 499 of the model, each numbered and fit with a driver’s seat molded to its owner’s body. The supercar maker aims to build about 200 LaFerraris this year and complete deliveries in 2014, Montezemolo said in May.
Asked whether Ferrari is planning more hybrid models, Montezemolo said, “the answer is yes, without exceeding” what customers want.
The Italian manufacturer plans to introduce the 458 Speciale sports car at the Frankfurt auto show next month, Ferrari said yesterday in a statement. The 605-horsepower model, which the company called its most aerodynamically efficient production car ever, accelerates to 100 kph in as little as 3 seconds.
Equipped with a V8 engine, the 458 Speciale will have a starting price of about 240,000 euros in Europe, said a person familiar with Ferrari’s plan, who asked not to be identified before an official announcement.
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