Hybrid cars have come a long way over the past decade, transforming from downright dowdy to supercar sleek. Unveiled at this year's Geneva Auto Show, the Ferrari LaFerrari combines high-tech racing technology with improved efficiency thanks to its twin electric motors. On the heels of the LaFerrari's success, Ferrari plans to develop more hybrid vehicles in the near future. Ferrari chairman Luca Cordero di Montezelomo recently sat down for an interview with Bloomberg Television, in which he stated that "I strongly believe in hybrids." Could we expect to see an expansion of the brand's hybrid offerings?
The Sold-Out LaFerrari
Although it carries a hefty price tag of 1 million euros, the LaFerrari still managed to sell out in advance of its initial showing. Ferrari only plans to make 499 models of this luxury hybrid sports car, each coming equipped with a custom-moulded driver's seat for its owner. These will be constructed and delivered by 2014. This added exclusivity has no doubt helped to raise the profile of the LaFerrari, which appeals to collectors. This 963-horsepower sports car comes equipped with two electric motors and a 6.3 litre, 12-cylinder petrol engine, which cuts fuel consumption by up to 40%. At the same time, the LaFerrari is capable of hitting top speeds of 200 mph and accelerating from 0-62 in under three seconds.
Ferrari has a tradition of using Formula One racing technology in its vehicles, and this has been applied to this new ultra-exclusive hybrid. The system uses F1's Kinetic Energy Recovery System to get an extra lift of acceleration. This allows the LaFerrari's batteries to recharge when the brakes are applied, or whenever the electric motors are generating excess torque. However, there is no electric-only mode for the LaFerrari as there is for competitors like the McLaren P1.
Luxury Hybrids a Growing Trend
Although you can now read about hybrid Ferraris up at listings websites like†carsales.com.au, many other high end car manufacturers are jumping on the hybrid bandwagon. The new BMW plug-in i8 supercar is hotly anticipated by those in the know, and manufacturers such as Land Rover and Porsche also have new hybrid models in the works. The McLaren P1 and Porsche 918 Spyder are two unique hybrid rivals that the LaFerrari must contend with. The market research firm HIS Automotive anticipates that the production of luxury hybrids will increase significantly over the next few years, with over 56,000 models produced in 2016. It's possible that sports car manufacturers will embrace this technology not only to reduce emissions, but to improve performance.
No Electric Vehicles in the Pipeline
Despite Ferrari's new focus on green-friendly luxury cars, don't expect to see any fully electric vehicles in the near future. In his Bloomberg interview, Montezemolo made it clear that he did not believe in electric cars as a viable option for this Italian brand. This could change should electric racing technology improve over the next decade. For now, Ferrari is happy to meet the consumer demand for hybrids while still providing the high-tech luxury and speed that the brand is known for. †