Ferrari NV is unveiling the fastest production car in its history, underscoring its reputation for uncompromising performance even as the Italian manufacturer pushes the limit of how many autos it can sell without losing its allure.
The Ferrari 812 Superfast debuts at the Geneva International Motor Show on Tuesday with a 12-cylinder, 800-horsepower engine that accelerates to 100km/hour in as little as 2.9 seconds, making it Ferrari’s most powerful production model ever. Borrowing from the automaker’s Formula 1 designs, the new flagship model is aimed squarely at a core audience of race-car aficionados.
Having promised its shareholders a boost in sales and profit following its 2015 initial public offering, Ferrari faces the challenge of selling more cars without diluting its allure of exclusivity. Chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne, likely to reach his target of selling 9,000 cars annually by 2019, is pushing high-performers like the 812 Superfast to maintain earnings momentum, even as he widens the lineup.
Marchionne has said there’s still a “phenomenal amount of space” to expand Ferrari’s range without massive investment in new technology and platforms. Such low-risk expansion is critical for the boutique manufacturer as it seeks to compete without the backing of a bigger industry player.
In an effort to reach a wider audience, Ferrari unveiled a four-seater GTC4Lusso “family car” in Geneva last year and may consider a five-door version to draw buyers seeking more practicality and comfort, said Ian Fletcher, an analyst at IHS Automotive in London.
“There is for sure demand for that kind of hatchback which could generate high margins using an existing platform,” Fletcher said.
Still, Ferrari’s bread-and-butter models are its high-powered, hand-crafted supercars and special editions — which these days are appearing with increasing frequency. The manufacturer sold out its $2.1 million special-edition LaFerrari Aperta last year even before its debut, and it’s rolling out 350 limited-run models of its five main lines to celebrate its 70th anniversary this year.
With a price tag expected around $300,000, the 812 Superfast, which replaces the F12 Berlinetta, can exceed 340 kilometers per hour. The new model has flaps in the underbody that suck in air when the brakes get hot. With a high fastback tail and curving wheel arches, it’s meant to evoke the 1969 Daytona while adding modern aerodynamic lines.
Ferrari, which was spun off from Italian-US automaker Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV in 2015, posted record profit last year and plans to increase earnings by at least 8 percent this year. The company, which previously limited production to 7,000 annually to protect its exotic allure, expects to sell about 8,400 vehicles this year after 8,014 in 2016.