FERRARI is working on EV powertrains... for now only for Maserati. But it is only a matter of time until there's a new model from Maranello with a recharge port instead of a fuel filler. Here's why...
Under a plan outlined in Italy on Friday, Maserati will soon drop diesel engines. It will produce only plug-in petrol-electric hybrid and pure battery-powered vehicles. And Ferrari will supply the powertrains for all of them.
The Ferrari-developed EV powertrain will deliver Ferrari-grade performance. Tim Kuniskis, the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles exec who heads both Maserati and Alfa Romeo, promises 0-100km/h acceleration in around 2.0 seconds and a 300km/h-plus top speed for its new brand-halo sports car in his presentation.
Alfieri was the badge Maserati glued onto the gorgeous 2+2 seat concept coupe it revealed four years ago at the Geneva motor show. The same name will be used on the planned production version confirmed on Friday. It will be built in both coupe and cabrio forms. The new Alfieri models will replace the existing, and ageing, Gran Turismo and Gran Cabrio.
The Alfieri EV will be the first to launch, scheduled for the second half of 2020. An Alfieri plug-in hybrid version is due in early 2021.
Between now and 2022, Maserati also plans to launch an updated Ghibli, an all-new Levante, an all-new Quattroporte and a yet unnamed mid-size SUV. Except for the new sub-Levante size SUV, which will be plug-in hybrid only, every model will offer the choice of plug-in hybrid or pure battery power. The EVs will be marketed as 'Maserati Blue'.
Details of the powertrain technology Maserati will use in its EVs, including the Alfieri, point to lofty performance and dynamic capability.
The 'Maserati Blue' system will use three electric motors. It's certain two will be mounted on the rear axle, for full torque-vectoring capability. And 800-volt battery packs will deliver high power, long range and quick recharging.
This is exactly the kind of high-end EV technology that Ferrari would choose.
Ferrari and FCA head Sergio Marchionne sees plug-in vehicles becoming a staple of Maranello's model mix. "I think I've been clear on the topic that we're going to embrace electrification," he said at Ferrari's Geneva International Motor Show press conference last March. "We are going to bring it in and make it a mainstay of our offering."
At the same time he confirmed Ferrari would launch a hybrid model in 2019. He implied it would be a plug-in hybrid, unlike the La Ferrari, and that it wouldn't be a supercar.
"In the La Ferrari it's an interesting add-on that's used for power," he said, referring to hybrid tech. "In the case of the next hybrid I think it needs to become more traditional in a sense, because it needs to fulfill a different role."
Sharing the cost of new-tech drivetrains makes sense for both Ferrari and Maserati, and hard-headed, ex-accountant Marchionne is a man who surely knows how to add up the benefits.
Ferrari produces fewer than 10,000 cars a year (for now), while Maserati currently sells around 50,000 a year and has ambitions to hit 100,000 by 2022. Jointly funding the development of plug-in powertrains makes them more affordable for low-volume Ferrari, while having Ferrari produce them adds lustre to Maserati's image.
The Maserati announcement on Friday, made as part of FCA's presentation to investors of its new 2018 to 2022 five-year plan, makes clear the growing closeness of its relationship to Ferrari.
Ferrari, recently spun off from FCA, will present its separate plan to investors come September. Marchionne hopes it will include a new model or concept reveal.
Count on it being large, since size is needed to make space for battery packs and hybrid hardware. Plug-in hyper-hybrid SUV? Or a 'Ferrari Red'-branded EV pointing to a potential GTC4 Lusso replacement? Both are now possible.
Whatever it is, it will stretch Maranello's designers. "Doing an incredibly elegant car that embodies Ferrari values is not an easy thing," Marchionne admitted in Geneva last March.
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