It is said that times change but myths do not. Ferrari has upended that adage.
Ferrari’s transformation is seeing the sports car icon following fashion. Once the Cavallino or prancing horse stood out because it never ran after anyone; it did not have to because it was always in front – on the track and in the high-performance touring market. It was the other sports cars makers that chased Ferrari.
Today, sadly, this isn’t the case. Ferrari now chases its rivals, imitates what they do.
We are talking about the SUV that Ferrari will unveil later in 2022. Without a hint of irony, its name is the Purosangue – Pure Blood – even though the model clearly sacrifices the purity of the marque’s racing heritage.
This hulking machine will steer Ferrari into an unexplored segment and attract customers who never before would have considered entering a Ferrari dealership. For them, the attraction is not the brand’s glorious racing DNA so much as its ability to handle rough roads with kids stuffed in the back.
In Ferrari’s defence, the Purosangue will no doubt be a hot seller, as the Cayenne and Macan SUVs are for Porsche, and the Urus is for Lamborghini – other illustrious racing brands that decided to contaminate their sports heritage for the sake of luring more customers.
Porsche had a record year in Canada in 2021; two-thirds of the vehicles it sold were SUVs. Lamborghini saw record worldwide sales in 2021, with the Urus responsible for 60 per cent of vehicles sold. Those profits Ferrari is hoping to see, in theory, could be reinvested in its racing programs.
If the goal of the company based in Maranello, Italy was to break with tradition, it succeeded.
Ferrari’s listing on the stock exchange has given it priorities that do not always correspond to those of passion – passion for design, speed, handling and luxury.
Shareholders of a public company expect profits and fat dividends. For them, the sentimental aspects do not matter. In this sense, the Purosangue should become a quick route to easy profits, as the Porsche and Lamborghini SUVs were to their parent companies.
The more practical customers will say that any company lives off the health of its balance sheet. Profits are needed to ensure survival of the brand as it moves toward electrification and increasingly expensive and restrictive environmental standards. In other words, passion alone will not guarantee Ferrari’s future.
While an SUV may answer the financial challenge, it’s hardly respectful of the traditions that made Ferrari the most coveted, revered and gorgeous racing brand ever.
Luca Iannucci is a cardiologist in Rome. He owns two Ferrari 488GTBs, one for the racetrack, one for the road. Both are red, of course.