My Car Quest

December 16, 2017

Ferrari And The SUV?

One emphatic vote for “Yes”!

by Wallace Wyss –

Sergio Marchionne head of Fiat Chrysler, said in remarks to the New York Stock Exchange Oct. 9th something to the effect of Ferrari will make an SUV.

Now I know the traditionalists are going to say “Horrors, no” after all they have fought the battle against a Ferrari four door sedan since the Pinin show car was developed and then shelved.

The traditionalists consider an SUV to be even more a slap across the face of ol’ Enzo, may he RIP.

I beg to differ.

Ferrari SUV

CarBuzz.com guess on Ferrari SUV styling

PORSCHE THE MODEL

Here’s my argument. Porsche has a somewhat similar history to Ferrari. They have been in F1. They have been making sports cars for about the same amount of time (first Porsche in 1948). Where they differ is that, from time to time, Porsche has gone into middle class budget type cars like the 914 and 924, both made in VW factories.

But then it seems they would remember their mission was to build great driving sports cars and they would go back to developing something like the 911R, 911 Carrera, etc. Then they developed an SUV, the Cayenne. The traditionalists were against it, figuring it would dilute the image. They were wrong. The car was a rousing success, selling in the hundreds of thousands and spawned a lower price kin, the Mecan.

I think Ferrari recognizes that the people who bought the Cayenne were loyal Porsche owners but they didn’t want to drive their precious 911 in the winter, on salted roads (like in the Midwest) and wanted something sporty to drive in winter, hence a 4 WD machine.

After all, they had made it in their collective fields, be they doctor, lawyer or Indian Chief, and bought a cabin in the mountains so who are these critics to tell them they can’t drive a Porsche in winter, if only there was a 4WD version, which Porsche created to fill that need.

Porsche needed the SUV to expand its market (ever notice how much sand there is in the Middle East?) and Ferrari needs an SUV for the same reason—first to have something their proud buyers can drive to the cabin in Big Bear or Telluride in winter and secondly, to have something to drive all winter while keeping the more precious Ferrari two seater in their heated garage.

Ferrari SUV

Another CarBuzz.com guess on Ferrari SUV styling

Ferrari needs to grow its unit volume faster than the growth of the super-high-end luxury car market, which has a big hiccough every time there is a bubble bursting in real estate, military contracts, etc.

Short sighted automakers anxious to make up for lost volume go around the showrooms cutting prices but that isn’t going to make you a profit. The solution? Make something the public wants. And expand into new segments.

Ferrari is not a low cost company to run. Built on the original idea that you would build race cars and then sell tamer versions of those cars to the public, they still need to be in racing. But look how long it’s been since they won Le Mans—more than 50 years. So racing drains money which other automakers don’t have to spend. Yet they need to do it for the honor of the marque. If selling 20,000 to 50,000 SUVs bearing the prancing horse badge in the grille will help them keep competitive in racing, why not?

Plus there’s the competition. Lamborghini’s SUV is just about on the market. Jaguar has a SUV. Maserati has an SUV. It hasn’t hurt their sales in the least.

I know the objections. I quote this one from the website Ferrarichat.com
“They are shooting themselves in the foot long term. Ferrari used to be special, a racing company that built road cars to support racing. They then evolved nicely and built truly unique special road cars and that created the reputation of being the best. Ferrari has lived off that reputation for a while and has even created the 2-year wait and new cars worth more than MSRP myth that is currently fueling it. Ferrari has become less differentiated from the competition and there is much more competition now than the 80’s and 90’s when it was just Lamborghini, Lotus, and sometimes Porsche. “

That same forum poster figures that when you demystify Ferrari, “There are now dozens and dozens of manufacturers that are beating Ferrari in looks, performance, racing, and price. When the bubble they’ve had going breaks it will be exponential. They will then keep increasing production and offering more and more standard cars. Ferrari will be something, but it won’t be the same company that created the passion for being the best.”

I disagree. A lot depends on how good it is. And how good it looks. And reliability-wise, well it will have to be pretty damn perfect, maybe not the match of their sports cars in terms of horsepower but a vehicle that is polishing the name “Ferrari.”

It is essential that they use the extra profit from an SUV to still make competitive cars in racing. Wins in F1 will justify a lot of this new direction.

WHO IS THE MARKET?

The amount scheduled to be built will be reflective of their intentions. If it is say, under 20,000, then they will count on exclusivity to keep the prices high. That would be the right amount if they are counting on Ferrari owners as buyers (maybe restirciting sales to those who currently own a Ferrari).

But if they throw out their current marketing scheme of “exclusivity” (used for limited edition models like LaFerrari) and are intent on expanding their reach to those who never owned a Ferrari, they are going to have to change a lot in the servicing, reliability and other areas so they can match Porsche.

In other words they aren’t ready to make a mass market car yet, with their current way of doing business.

In other words, the worst thing they could do with an SUV is bring out one that hasn’t been thoroughly tested (I mean across the steppes of Russia in winter, across the Saudi desert, etc.) and made super reliable.

If it’s a success, they can pour the profits into supercars, winning in F1 and GT’s, and building class leading sports/touring cars, and even develop a Dino that would rival the 911.

Another very astute observer on FerrariChat said that those opposed to a Ferrari SUV are “lament(ing) the loss of a company that never was. Ferrari had some amazing hits and a few misses. It still is a brand of dreams. Truth be told, I haven’t seen many misses, if any, lately. The product line is great and it seems to have a great future. Are they perfect? No, but I don’t think its a scorched earth by any means.“

In other words, it’s sort of like a demanding a film company that has one hit, keep making the same movie over and over (Fast and Furious anyone?) but an astute moviemaker will try different genres.

THE LOW COST ROUTE

They could make a Ferrari SUV on the same platform as the Maserati SUV just have a lot of Ferrari design cues. It doesn’t have to be 100% a new design…there are others who say that the Levante isn’t world class, that such a car wearing the Ferrari prancing horse would be disappointing but I say “reliability out of the box” is crucial and would rather have it built on a platform that has all the bugs out of it than a new platform that will get a bad rep if it has flaws.

The naysayers also say why not put the money on a lower cost sports car for a market below the current V8 and V12, with a Dino built at the rate of 3,500 a year?

True, that keeps the original mission but doesn’t solve the problem of Ferrari loyalists going up to Vail, Telluride, Big Bear or the Alps in winter.

RIDE THE WAVE

The whole thing is, when you are making products, you have to be like a surfer, ride the waves, on top of the waves preferably. Sure Leica could keep pushing film cameras but they embraced digital and still hold a reputation as one of the world’s finest camera makers.

Ferrari has to reckon with reality and the market is currently dominated by SUVs. Bentley had a very successful one and even Rolls is coming out with one so why not a Ferrari SUV ?

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

 
 
THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss, a fine artist, occasionally slips away from the easel to give an opinion. He has been involved with several automakers, including being a consultant with Ford, GM, and Lancia. A list of his car art can be obtained by writing Photojournalist2@gmail.com.

 
 
 

 

 

Ferrari

Summary
Ferrari And The SUV?
Article Name
Ferrari And The SUV?
Description
Should Ferrari make an SUV? Yes they should!
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Comments

  1. Mike Miles says:

    Bill Harrah beat them to it with the Jerrari about 30 years ago. I think he did it twice actually – once with putting a Ferrari motor in a stock looking Jeep Wagoneer, then another time merging a 330 nose onto a Wagoneer. I don’t think they were the same car. I’m sure other readers know far more about it and will disabuse me with facts.

    • I believe it was actually a 365 2+2 nose. The car was auctioned in 2004 sold for $11,500. Harrah also grafted the Ferrari horn button on the steering wheel and after a period had the V12 replaced by a 350ci V-8

  2. Raymond Zinn says:

    Aha, the nicest Ferrari ever made, a feast for the eyes and just in time for Halloween?

    http://www.fourwheeler.com/project-vehicles/154-0909-1977-jeep-wagoneer-the-jerrari/

  3. I owned my first Porsche when I was 26 years old. It was a 1967 912. I was amazed that anyone had made a car that drove and handled so perfectly. I no longer envied anyone else for the car they drove. I now own a 1980 Porsche 911 SC Targa and belong to PCA. I tell the guys with their newer Porsches that Dr. Porsche never intended for his cars to be water cooled, nor did he intend for Porsche to build a sedan or an SUV. I don’t think Enzo intended that for Ferrari either.. Additionally, Rob Dickinson of Singer Motors did what Porsche could have/should have done — a air/oil cooled Porsche with 450 horsepower. Do we really need another SUV??

    • Raymond Zinn says:

      Surely you don’t expect me to go shopping at Audi and to the T J Max and back to my 5-acre estate in a mere Cayenne do you. 😉

  4. Tirefriar says:

    If you think that Levante is helping the Maserati brand you are surely lost. The only thing its doing is dragging the legendary and quite exclusive (at one time) brand further into the depth of mainstream also rans. Do you think that the current Ghibli model is a true successor to its original namesake? With its line of sedans, Maserati didn’t do any favors to its image. Anyone with $5k-$7k can walk into a Maserati show room and drive out with a Ghibli for $599/month. In LA, Ghiblis are becoming a dime a dozen. Aside from super loud (and at times very obnoxious exhaust that shouts to the world look at me, I have a Maserati) these cars have very little to offer. In fact, many current Maserati owners will most likely never return to the brand.

    Ferrari will follow the same path if they go down the road of building an SUV. Next, following your logic, we will see a more mainstream Ferrari model to justify capturing a much wider audience. I agree, the world does not need another SUV especially from such a legendary manufacturer. BTW, when Enzo needed a 4dr, he was driven around in a 164. So, those that don’t wish to drive their prancing horses in snow or mud can just get themselves a Levante. It is still a product from the same brand owner.

  5. Thomas Graziano MD says:

    Please say it ain’t so. It seems that “Corporate” is taking over Ferrari far away from the ideals and aspirations of Enzo and those around him. I for one, and I’ve owned and do own Ferraris will not consider a Ferrari SUV. This will be a big mistake for the Brand as competition steadily rises next to it with offerings that are just as good or better than the current production vehicle.

  6. wallace wyss says:

    Wyss replies (hopefully with some cordiality) to TireFrair and Dr. Graziano:

    Tirefriar: The market is there for Ferrari to mine, even if they are $200K apiece, so why not let Ferrari make hay while the sun shines? It will be a feather in Ferrari’s cap if they can bring the excitement of driving a Ferrari to SUVs. By the way once I saw a Lambo 002 being driven on the beach in Malibu, so there was the excitement of that sound coming from an unexpected place….the Ferrari SUV will bring the siren song of Ferrari to many a ski resort.

    Dr. Graziano:

    It doesn’t matter if a competitor’s SUV is technically better than Ferrari–all that matters is the result wearing the prancing horse crest be a complement to the name Ferrari, delivering the right sounds and performance. For instance, I can’t get excited about McLarens which may be technically as good or better than Ferraris but they have no soul…no tradition…I’ve been to NZ and that has nothing of the influence of art and culture compared to Italy…it reminded me of America in the early ’50s, a place which might produce a good farm tractor…

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