Ferrari CEO Benedetto Vigna Is So Not A Car Guy

Benedetto Vigna is a physicist with decades of experience in the microchip industry,” reports. “The closest he got to automaking during his 26-year career at Swiss company STMicroelectronics was to lead the development of a low-cost three-dimensional motion sensor to be used in airbag systems.” Well that sucks . . .

A scientist at the head of Ferrari. That’s what happens when a business becomes less of a passion play and more of a, well, business. They fall into the hands of businessmen. Lest we forget, Ferrari is a very large enterprise. A public company, valued (at the time of writing) at $36.7b.

Benedetto Vigna’s responsibility is to his customers, certainly. But his primary goal is to enrich Ferrari shareholders.His survival at the helm depends on it. In other words, he’s got a corporate monkey on his back.

Vigna has to grow the company and maximize profits. Hence the Ferrari Purosangue. A Ferrari SUV. The type of vehicle previous Prez Luca Cordero di Montezemolo swore he’d never produce. As did Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne. That Benedetto Vigna brought unto the world.

Is Enzo Ferrari spinning in his grave? Motor Trend reckons he might be. More or less. Mostly less ’cause, you know, test cars and junkets.

It’s tempting to suggest the new Purosangue, the first four-door Ferrari in history, the first Ferrari to flirt with the SUV concept (which Ferrari isn’t labeling it), is one of them.

But the Purosangue, which is cleverly being launched with what may be the last non-hybridized, naturally aspirated V-12 to be offered in a regular production model from Maranello, is also a relatively traditional Ferrari, once you get past the door count and the ride height. As one screaming full throttle run to the 715-hp V-12’s 8,250 rpm redline will prove.

As I explained in previous posts, the $400k+ Purosangue will increase the company’s average order value without significantly increasing volume, maintaining the brand’s exclusivity.

But no matter how much money the Purosangue dumps into Ferrari’s corporate coffers, no matter how hard the leviathan accelerates and handles, it’s still a Dad Not Daddy-mobile.

So what of the battery-powered sword of damocles hanging over the Ferrari brand? How will the automaker deal with world governments demand that all vehicles must be motivated by coal-fired power plants? Sorry, wind farms.

[Benedetto Vigna] says he wants 40 percent of Ferrari’s model range to be electric powered in some manner by 2030. However, he’s careful not to say that he necessarily expects an equal percentage of all the Ferraris sold by 2030 will reflect this . . .

Can an electric-powered Ferrari ever deliver such emotion? Vigna believes it can. For a start, electric Ferraris, he says, will not be silent supercars.

“Each electric engine… I like to say electric engine, not motor… has its own signature,” he says, adding that the company is working on patented concepts to make those signatures an integrated and desirable element of the electric Ferrari experience . . .

 “The full electric Ferrari will be… a Ferrari.”

I’m confused. Is Vigna saying four out of ten Ferraris will be either EV’s or hybrids in a market that won’t want them? Doesn’t that make these vehicles nothing but window dressing? I know greenwashing keeps governments happy, but Ferrari owners are a breed apart.

As for Vigna’s sonic signature statement, he seems to be suggesting that battery-powered Ferraris will sound like gas-powered Ferraris or . . . something else. What sound could possibly give brand fans the same hard-on as a Ferrari-fettled petrol-powered engine at full chat? Swedish death metal?

Sorry. I love that song. And I love Ferrari two-seaters. And I gotta hand it to Vigna: he’s positioning the company as a cutting-edge high tech business – what the market adores – while trying to appease die-hard Ferraristi.

Which side of the fence is Vigna really on? No points for guessing. But props to Vigna for mastering the fine art of PR spin.

Benedetto Vigna says Enzo Ferrari spoke of “the will to progress” as being the defining characteristic of his car company. It’s a sentiment Vigna would like to be part of his own legacy at Ferrari: “I would like to keep it alive, maybe to bring it to a new level.”

The “will to progress is the defining characteristic of Enzo’s car company?” I thought it was “Aerodynamics are for people who can’t build engines.” Wait, that’s not it. “I want to build a car that’s faster than all of them, and then I want to die.” Hang on . . .

“You cannot describe passion, you can only live it.” That’s the ticket! Here’s hoping the former physicist has some of that parked next to his protractor. If you know what I mean.

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