Is a LaFerrari successor coming soon?
Ferrari is about to release its first plug-in hybrid supercar, the SF90 Stradale. This is an interesting step for Ferrari considering the LaFerrari didn't include an all-electric driving mode because the company assumed owners would always want to hear the engine. Speaking with Autocar, Ferrari's chief technology officer Michael Leiters outlined how the company has changed from just a few years ago.
"Why plug-in, and not just hybrid? Even though you want to have so much power for certain moments, you don't always want the sound. If you leave early in the morning, you don't have to make a racket," Leiters said. This is a stark contrast compared to when the company was asked why the LaFerrari did not have a plug-in drivetrain like the Mclaren P1 and Porsche 918.
The SF90 enters a completely new space for Ferrari. "We had 488 and 812 and saw space to create a new segment with no consolidation to the 812 or 488. So we needed to add a load of performance over the 812 and make new features over the 488, which is not hybrid or all-wheel drive," Leiters explained. "So we defined a new segment, a top segment for sports cars. We think we will do it and the first feedback has been positive. It's been difficult for us to catch customers in the top segment over €300,000 ($329,000) who are used to buying mid/rear-engined cars."
Leiters also spoke about Ferrari's plans for its next mid-engined V8 car. The F8 Tributo is essentially a facelifted 488 GTB, which itself was an update on the 458 Italia. "From the architecture point of view, our philosophy is the same: weight, wheelbase, and center of gravity. From a purely technical point of view, there are two axes. One is performance. The other is driving emotion. Performance is everything you can read about in a magazine: 0-100kph, power, torque - all these numbers. Emotions are the actual secret of Ferrari," Leiter said.
So while some new models are only built to achieve the best magazine numbers, Ferrari says its cars will still be fun to drive. "But what's fun? It's sound, perceived acceleration - not just the 0-100 kph or 0-200 kph times. I accelerate and I feel the torque and how the acceleration evolves. It's not like driving a diesel. It's a turbo that evolves power and torque like on a naturally aspirated engine. Then it's a go-kart feeling. Everything you do brings a controllable feel to the car. Every customer can drive a Ferrari and have fun," Leiter said.
"If an SF90 is a very performance-orientated car with high fun to drive, the F8 successor will have less performance [than 1000 hp] but maybe more fun to drive. More driving emotions, more capable, even lighter. We're thinking of some specialties."
Electrification will obviously play a role moving forward with Ferrari but the brand has no plans to build an all-electric car. "Right now, the technology is not mature enough. Look at customer requirements: the most important thing is sound. Today, there is also a problem on range, which for a sports car really is a problem. The range of an electric car is especially so if you accelerate or go with high speed. These are contributors to sports cars. You need high speeds and you can't limit to 200 kph. If you'd like to remove that technical constraint, you add so much weight it's not a sports car. Maybe in a few years, it could be a possibility. To sell the technology, you need a big step," he said.
And in even more exciting news, Ferrari will remain devoted to building V12 engines. "We will try and build it for as long as possible. I am convinced there is still space for it on the market and we can do it technically and manage emissions. We're working on the next EU6c emissions and will add gasoline particulate filters to manage this," Leiter promised.