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Ferrari's Management Shuffle Shows That It's Finally Preparing for the EV Future

Motley Fool - Mon Jan 10, 3:50PM CST

Ferrari (NYSE: RACE) on Monday announced a revamped management team as its new CEO prepares to lead the iconic supercar company into a new era of electrified, connected vehicles.

CEO Benedetto Vigna joined Ferrari from Swiss semiconductor maker STMicroelectronics (NYSE: STM) in September with a mandate to lead the company through that tech-driven transformation.

That would be a difficult transition for any company, but it could be especially difficult for Ferrari. Here's what the company said about Monday's moves, and what they're likely to mean for investors.

What Ferrari said about its management-team shuffle

This leadership overhaul is Vigna's first major move. Of note, he filled two key positions with executives hired away from STMicroelectronics: Ernesto Lasalandra, who becomes Ferrari's research and development chief; and Angelo Pesci, who will lead purchasing and quality efforts.

Both held similar roles at STMicroelectronics.

Ferrari also promoted several insiders to new senior roles, in part to replace three executives -- including the company's chief technology officer -- who left in December. Among them:

  • Davide Abate, with Ferrari since 2012, is now chief technologies and infrastructure officer.
  • Silvia Gabrielli, who joined Ferrari from Microsoft in 2019, is now chief digital and data officer.
  • Gianmaria Fulgenzi, a longtime Ferrari executive who most recently led the racing department's supply chain group, will now lead the overall company's product-development efforts.

What it means for investors

Simply put, it appears that Vigna has put in place a team that he feels he can trust to lead Ferrari into the future.

The trust issue is important. Transitions like this can be fraught exercises at any company, but they have the potential to be extra-fraught at Ferrari, a company steeped in tradition that is also something of an Italian national icon. That's probably why Vigna brought in two of his longtime associates from STMicroelectronics -- people he knows that he can trust to execute his vision.

It's a journey that will have to be navigated carefully, but it's also one that is becoming urgent. While Ferrari has always embraced new technologies that were developed in racing, it has been relatively slow to explore fully electric powertrains, automated driving technologies, and connected-vehicle systems -- all technologies that come from outside of its traditional domains of expertise.

It's not hard to see why it has been slow. Ferrari's brand was built on its racetrack successes and, crucially, on the sounds and sensations of its V-12 and V-8 gasoline engines. While the company has embraced emissions-friendly technologies like turbocharging and, more recently, gasoline-electric hybrid drivetrains, it has yet to show a fully electric vehicle -- or even talk at length about what one might look like -- though it did tell us last year that we can expect an electric Ferrari by 2025.

A red Ferrari SF90 Stradale, a mid-engined hybrid exotic sports car.

Ferrari's first series-production hybrid, the SF90 Stradale, has been well received by clients and critics. But the leap to fully electric power could be a difficult one for the supercar maker. Image source: Ferrari.

Because Ferrari is as much a luxury company as an automaker, it has to be concerned about how its wealthy clients will receive an electric Ferrari. At minimum, any electric, connected Ferrari will have to be positioned at the cutting edge of technology; that's why Ferrari's board reached outside of the company to hire Vigna, an executive who knows technology and tech supply chains well. But it will also have to deliver the emotional resonance that makes a Ferrari a Ferrari, which may be why Vigna chose a longtime Ferrari veteran to lead the product-development team.

We haven't seen Ferrari's transformation plan yet, but today's moves make clear that there's one in progress. That should be at least somewhat reassuring to Ferrari investors.

The company said that it will share more details about its plans during its annual capital markets day in June.

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Teresa Kersten, an employee of LinkedIn, a Microsoft subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. John Rosevear has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns and recommends Microsoft. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.