The chairman and chief executive of Ferrari has said the supercar maker "needs" to be involved in the electric race series, Formula E. Sergio Marchionne's comments come just a year after he said an electric Ferrari road car would be "obscene".
Speaking to Auto, the official magazine of world motorsport governing body, the FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile), Marchionne was asked how likely it is that Ferrari would enter Formula E, the all-electric race series currently competed by car makers Audi, Faraday Future, Jaguar, Next EV and Renault.
Marchionne answered: "It's difficult to say. But I have two things in mind. The first is that we need to be involved in Formula E because electrification via hybridisation is going to be part of our future. The second is to see Alfa Romeo [sister company of Ferrari] back racing in Formula One...At this stage, I don't know how likely it is that either of those things will happen. But the fact that we are talking about them is a good sign in itself."
Aside from its Formula One racer, Ferrari has produced just two hybrid-electric cars, the £1m LaFerrari and its convertible sister, the LaFerrari Aperta. Marchionne previously described the idea of an all-electric Ferrari road car as "almost an obscene concept," adding: "You'd have to shoot me first" – the same reaction used when asked on separate occasions about an autonomous Ferrari and a Ferrari sports utility vehicle.
It now appears that Marchionne's plans are to take the hybrid systems already used by Ferrari, spread them across the entire lineup (something the company has previously said will happen by 2019), then move on towards electrification.
Speaking of future hybrid Ferraris, Marchionne, who is also the boss of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), parent company of Ferrari, Fiat and Chrysler, said adding electric motors to petrol engines is "crucial" to Ferrari. He added: "There is no denying that [emissions] regulations put us under pressure, but we could reach those targets in other ways. The challenge is to benefit from hybridisation not just in terms of emissions reduction, but also performance."
Entry into Formula E would give Ferrari and FCA a testbed for the development of battery and electric motor technology which, as has always been the case in motorsport, would trickle down to the company's road cars.
Ferrari has in recent years reduced emissions by turbocharging its cars. The California T and GTC4Lusso T (where T stands for turbo) both take this route, along with the turbocharged 488 GTB. Emphasising how "Ferrari is all about the emotion of driving", Marchionne believes in hybrid-electric technology boosting performance as well as reducing emissions.