Ferrari Makes No Bones About Its ‘Utility Vehicle’ Being About Anything Other Than Money

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Ferrari will likely add a comparatively spacious four-seat “utility vehicleâ€� to its lineup in the hopes of bolstering volume and doubling its profits by 2022. The strategy certainly has worked for Porsche. So well, in fact, that Lamborghini has made plans to introduce the Urus SUV for 2019 — using Volkswagen Group’s MLB platform. The spiritual successor to the wild LM002 is expected to outperform Bentley’s ludicrous Bentayga and would likely be Ferrari’s chief rival in the super sport utility segment.

The concept of a Ferrari-built SUV has drifted around the automaker’s Maranello and Amsterdam offices for a few years, but now inside sources claim a comprehensive strategy for the vehicle should be unveiled by 2018. However, enacting it would fundamentally change the brand.

As a low-volume automaker, Ferrari is not subject to the same rigid emissions regulations imposed on other car companies. But CEO and sweater aficionado Sergio Marchionne has been pressing the company to increase volume ever since taking the company’s helm in 2014, consequences be damned. 

“There is a risk that an SUV could dilute the Ferrari brand,� Richard Hilgert, an analyst at Morningstar, told Bloomberg. “If Ferrari made a vehicle that has more space for occupants, looks like a Ferrari, sounds like a Ferrari, and drives like Ferrari, well — it’d be a Ferrari,� but the company would have to get it right, he said.

Marchionne has already raised volume by a slight amount and offset the exclusivity losses with  ultra-expensive models like the LaFerrari Aperta. But it’s not as if the 488 GTB was affordable or the GTC4Lusso was developed to be a family-friendly runabout. These models remain playthings for the wealthy and nobody expects supreme practicality from the forthcoming SUV — just more than you might get from a 812 Superfast.

“It will probably happen but it will happen in Ferrari’s style,â€� Marchionne said of the planned utility vehicle during conference call after the company’s quarterly earnings report. “That [segment] is too big and too inviting and we have a lot of our customers who will be more than willing to drive a Ferrari-branded vehicle that has that kind of utilitarian objective.”

He also said someone would have to shoot him if Ferrari were to develop something similar to Bentley, BMW, or Porsche. “It has not been done to compete with Porsche,” the CEO claimed.

In addition to the hypothetical SUV, Ferrari’s five-year plan also intends to expand its usage of hybridized powertrains in future vehicles. This is most likely being done to adhere to the stiffer regulatory guidelines as volume increases past 10,000 deliveries per year. However, there are performance benefits to be enjoyed with electrification as well. Doubtful? Consider Porsche’s 918 Sypder, McLaren’s P1, or Ferrari’s own LaFerrari.

The official plan should be announced early next year and bear product fruit by 2022 — at which point Sergio will be retired, watching Ferrari approach a doubled profit margin. Still, things aren’t progressing too badly now. The company reported a 24-percent increase in second-quarter profit on Wednesday, resulting in an adjusted earnings increase of 270 million euros ($320 million).