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Ferrari plans more hybrids to follow LaFerrari supercar
Ferrari plans more hybrid vehicles to follow the 1 million euro ($1.34 million) LaFerrari as the manufacturer works to attract more wealthy buyers to the brand.

"I don't believe in the electric cars, but I strongly believe in hybrids," Chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo said in a Bloomberg Television interview at the manufacturer's headquarters in Maranello, Italy.

Fiat Group's supercar unit will also look at expanding sales beyond vehicles, such as licensing merchandise with its prancing-horse logo. "We have a lot of parallel activities that can increase revenues without being obliged to produce more cars," Montezemolo said.

Ferrari, the most profitable division at Fiat Group, unveiled the LaFerrari sports car at the Geneva auto show in March.

The model is part of Montezemolo's strategy of boosting Ferrari's profitability with high-end, customized versions of its vehicles while restricting their availability to enhance the brand's reputation for exclusivity.

"I want to have different Ferraris for different Ferraristi," Montezemolo, 65, said. "We have a lot of parallel activities that can increase revenues without being obliged to produce more cars."

Montezemolo, who has been chairman since 1991, has transformed Ferrari into a successful brand, accounting for about 10 percent of Fiat's 2012 operating earnings.

Widening margins

The division's worldwide first-half earnings before interest, taxes and one-time items widened to 15 percent of sales from 13 percent a year earlier. That compares with a 5 percent trading-profit margin for the parent company's mass-market nameplates in North America and 8 percent for those businesses in Latin America.

"The overall market for us is very good, as we are doing very well in the U.S., Germany and UK in Europe, Japan and the greater China," Montezemolo said in the July 3 interview.

Ferrari plans to reduce deliveries by 400 cars this year to about 6,900 vehicles. Asked whether Ferrari is planning more hybrid models, Montezemolo said, "the answer is yes, without exceeding" what customers want.

Ferrari plans to introduce the 458 Speciale sports car at the Frankfurt auto show next month, Ferrari said yesterday in a statement. The 605-horsepower model, which the company called its most aerodynamically efficient production car ever, accelerates to 100 kilometers (61 miles) per hour in as little as 3 seconds.

Equipped with a V8 engine, the 458 Speciale will have a starting price of about 240,000 euros in Europe, said a person familiar with Ferrari's plan, who asked not to be identified before an official announcement.

Green supercar trend

Ferrari is part of a growing trend by automakers to offer high-performance cars with reduced emissions.

Porsche will present the $845,000 production version of the 918 Spyder next month at the Frankfurt show, while BMW will showcase the i8 plug-in hybrid supercar. Land Rover will start selling its first hybrids in the U.K. in September.

"It makes sense to test new technology with luxury and high-end cars as customers tend to be less price sensitive, and more willing to pay for additional technology," said Sascha Gommel, an analyst with Commerzbank in Frankfurt. "In addition, hybrid technology could make a sports car even more dynamic as an electric powertrain improves the acceleration.

Earnings at Ferrari in the second quarter were helped by "strong" contributions from product licensing and car customization, Fiat said on July 30. The unit has introduced the Pr1ma clothing line, with products such as 1,500 euro leather jackets, that is expected to contribute to profit this year.

Ferrari has a strategy of expanding ancillary business, Montezemolo said. "I want to increase different activities: retail, licensing, merchandise," he added.

No spin off

Fiat doesn't plan to spin off Ferrari in any merger with Chrysler Group, Chairman John Elkann said in May.

Ferrari is "very important in the group in term of economic results, brand, image and for technological collaboration from Ferrari to Maserati and Alfa Romeo," said Montezemolo, who expects Fiat to complete a buyout of Chrysler "not far from now." Bloomberg

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