Should Ferrari embrace the electric powertrain to replace their V12?
Please, read everything patiently and bear with me on this one. I promise, it's worth your time!
Passion and soul
Those two words best describe the legendary twelve cylinders of the prancing Italian stallion! But times are changing, the world is evolving with the common goal to reduce the effects of the climate change. Sooner or later, Ferrari should follow suit like everyone else. So should Ferrari of all companies be worried?
Ferrari 250 GTO - Credit: AutoDir
Traditions over the future
Ferrari is the very definition of a traditional manufacturer and in Italy people tend to respect their traditions, no matter what. There was a statement that Ferrari will add hybrid systems to their existing V12 range in order to keep the legendary petrolhead passion going. It's probably the right decision in terms of marketing strategy, but it's a conservative statement for a company that's more than capable of innovations. So what are the options for the prancing horse?
Hybrids and downsizing are a good start for now, but their reign won't last forever. Like any European manufacturer, Ferrari have to adapt to survive and the changing regulations are not in their favour. You see, every manufacturer in Europe is given an emissions target that have to be met across their whole range. If they don't comply, some hefty fines will be imposed. Ferrari is a public company nowadays, after separation from the FCA and shareholders would eventually demand changes to comply with the ever evolving regulations in order to escape from the punishing fines.
Ferrari 330 GT - Credit: CarPixel
Why electric might just be the solution?
Let's keep our heads cool and take a detailed look at this particular scenario. Those V12s gives any Ferrari a lot more than just power. They give the cars a certain flair, that's been described as a soul by all who truly appreciate the brand. And I'd say it's correct - in my short experience behind the wheel of a GTC4Lusso, this beautiful beast of an engine feels like a living, breathing thing! It feels mechanical, connected, relentless! It makes all of your senses tingle! It feels like a wild animal is trying to escape! Will an electric powertrain fit that bill then?
Well . . mostly yes, but somewhat no. And bear with me on this one. Putting electric motors and batteries will make it around half a tonne heavier, but then that instant electric torque will cancel your feel of that extra weight under acceleration. Then there's the linear feel of that same acceleration, because Ferrari is keeping their V12 in a pure, naturally aspirated form. And electric motors are the master class of delivering that linear feel, if the throttle pedal is made to smoothly modulate the power (as opposed to an "on-off" pedal). The explosive character will also remain intact, since electric powertrains are more than capable to replicate the behaviour of a powerful V12 - readily accelerating from any speeds.
You might be wondering about the potential impact on the top speed, but Ferrari has that one in the bag before they've even thought about it. Their biggest ally is the two-speed gearbox they are already using in the GTC4Lusso to drive the front wheels. As a concept and a way of working, it's not that far from what Porsche are using in their Taycan. Ferrari have the right technology, just have to repurpose it.
Ferrari 365 GTB Daytona - Credit: HGM
Range and sound
I will skip the part about the road behaviour, because Ferrari will not have any major issues with their insane technological knowhow to produce the proper chassis and suspensions for an eventual heavy EV. The range is what's the biggest worry for any current or future EV owner. But for a V12 Ferrari, range is not exactly wonderful either. An optimistic 500 km per tank and that's if you're careful on the throttle. But in a V12 Ferrari there's no such thing as careful. Of course, you want to hear that high-revving engine to scream a symphony of burning petrol in your ears, so why would you be careful?! Looking at the current fast EV ranges, I have no doubt in my mind that Ferrari would be able to easily match that petrol range with batteries. And knowing the way Ferrari does things, it's likely that they would surpass that range to claim bragging rights.
As for the sound, to match the full V12 experience, that's not something hard to achieve, even if most manufacturers want you to believe otherwise. A simple exhaust with speakers inside would easily do the trick on the outside. And from the inside - everybody is pumping fake engine noises already. No drama, just clever engineering to match the throttle position and speed to the "engine" speed, and project the right sounds all around. Yes, it will be fake cargasms. But fake cargasm is still better than no cargasm at all!
And then there's the question of the profits. Excluding development cost, an electric Ferrari would be cheaper to produce, thus creating more profits, making those shareholders happier and keeping the company a happy place.
Ferrari 500 Superfast - Credit: Telacars
Would it feel like a living, breathing Italian stallion? It's up to Ferrari, but with their vast wisdom of creating passionate and emotional experience while driving their cars, I would bet on them to repeat their achievements. They have the power of engineering innovations and the historical background to achieve anything they want. And while now they are not keen on such a change, the future might just push them towards taking that step. As proud as Ferrari are with their V12, they have to swallow some of that pride and push forward early, before being left in a non-competitive position, with an ever more competitive market.