Ferrari, Infiniti: Even laggards, skeptics come round to electric cars


Sergio Marchionne

Sergio Marchionne

Back in 2013, Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo proclaimed, "I don’t believe in the electric cars"—all but solidifying the automaker's position for the future.

Even as recently as 2016, current Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne called the possibility of an electric Ferrari "an obscene concept."

Now the purveyor of some of the world's most exclusive and expensive V-8 and V-12-powered Italian supercars has changed its tune—and it's not the only brand to do so.

DON'T MISS: No Electric Cars In Ferrari's Future...But Hybrids? Certainly

At the 2018 North American International Auto Show this week in Detroit, Marchionne decided to add a postscript to his previous position.

"If there is an electric supercar to be built, then Ferrari will be the first,” Marchionne told Bloomberg.

“People are amazed at what Tesla did with a supercar: I’m not trying to minimize what Elon did, but I think it’s doable by all of us.”

Jay Kay has a green LaFerrari and it was spotted driving on full-electric mode

Jay Kay has a green LaFerrari and it was spotted driving on full-electric mode

Marchionne was referring to the second-generation Tesla Roadster, claimed to be capable of 250 mph, which the maker of electric vehicles says it will bring to market in 2020.

The impetus behind Marchionne's change of heart is the rapid development of powertrain technology, but Ferrari's first step will be to develop more hybrid powertrains.

From there, Marchionne believes moving development toward a fully electric vehicle will be straightforward.

READ MORE: Porsche Mission E electric sedan to offer 300 miles of range, 400 hp, at minimum

If or when Ferrari finally releases an all-electric supercar, it won't be solely competing with Tesla for business from well-heeled buyers.

German sportscar manufacturer Porsche is going head first into electric-vehicle development with its forthcoming Mission E sedan.

The model, which will sit below the Panamera and above the Boxster and Cayman, will rely on ultra high-speed charging and deliver over 300 miles of range and at least 400 hp in base-model form.

2012 Infiniti LE Concept

2012 Infiniti LE Concept

Ferrari isn't the only brand coming around to electric vehicles: Nissan's luxury brand Infiniti confirmed this week it will bring its first all-electric vehicle to market in 2021.

Back at the 2012 New York International Auto Show, Infiniti showed a Leaf-based Infiniti LE Concept, but the automaker decided to pursue higher-volume models like SUVs instead.

Following the 2021 debut of its first commercialized EV, Infiniti plans to go into overdrive and expects half its worldwide sales to be electrified by 2025.

CHECK OUT: 2015 Infiniti LE 'Luxury Leaf' Sedan Put On Hold Indefinitely

In 2011, Infiniti introduced the M35h hybrid sedan, which the automaker famously advertised as the world's fastest accelerating production full hybrid by pitting it in a drag race against a Porsche Panamera S Hybrid.

Hybrids have remained only a tiny part of its sales, however, while its parent Nissan has focused on bringing mass-priced electric vehicles to the market.

One interesting wrinkle is that Infiniti says some of its electric models will use the e-Power series hybrid system launched by Nissan in 2016, in which only an electric motor powers the wheels, but the battery is continuously recharged by a small gasoline engine.

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