Even Ferrari Is Being Forced to Build Hybrids

It's no surprise that Ferrari's hyper-exotic LaFerrari carries a seven-figure price tag to go with its 963-horsepower V12 drivetrain. But this might be a surprise: The hottest Ferrari of all is a hybrid. More hybrid Ferraris are on the way, the company says. Source: Ferrari

It's no secret that cars are going to have to become cleaner and more fuel-efficient in coming years. Strict new regulations in the U.S. and other parts of the world are forcing automakers to find ways to make their vehicles more efficient. And they're trying everything they can think of, from Ford's  (NYSE: F  ) new aluminum pickup trucks (lighter-weight vehicles use less gas) to Toyota's  (NYSE: TM  ) ongoing experiments with hydrogen fuel cells

Tesla Motors  (NASDAQ: TSLA  ) has shown the world that an all-electric car can be sleek and powerful and fun to drive. Now, even Ferrari is learning how to incorporate green technology into its products -- without losing the magical engine sounds that have defined the brand for decades.

As Motley Fool senior auto specialist John Rosevear explains in this video, Ferrari isn't giving up its hallowed V12 engines any time soon. But it is incorporating more green touches into its cars, as it seeks to cut its cars' carbon dioxide emissions dramatically over the next several years.

A transcript of the video is below.

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John Rosevear: Hey Fools, it's John Rosevear, senior auto specialist for Fool.com. The other day I asked whether the automakers' horsepower race was kind of going too far, with more and more 600-horsepower and even 700-horsepower cars on the market or in the works, and whether that was going to collide with the need to be more fuel efficient and more environmentally aware. Well, there are certainly quite a few automakers who are looking to square that circle, to have their horsepower with lower emissions, and one of those is Ferrari.

Ferrari is controlled by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (NASDAQOTH: FIATY  ) , but it's counted separately as a stand-alone company because it has a separate headquarters and it's not actually merged into Fiat Chrysler, I think FCA owns about 90% and the Ferrari family holds most of the rest.

That means that Ferrari doesn't get credit for fuel efficient little Fiats or Chryslers or whatever, but it also means that they have some latitude to negotiate with regulators.

Ferrari has been able to go to the regulators in the European Union and at the Environmental Protection Agency here in the U.S. and because of their small size and kind of very specialist market niche they've been able to negotiate their own deals, their own targets under the fuel economy and emissions regulations.

And what they've said they want to do is to reduce their model range's overall carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent by 2021, and they're going to do this while continuing to actually boost the performance of their cars. And if you think that sounds unrealistic, consider that Ferrari's CO2 emissions, the average across their new-car range, has actually fallen almost 40 percent just since 2007, according to Ferrari's Powertrain Director Vittorio Dini who was speaking to trade publication Automotive News.

Now, Ferrari's road cars come with V8 and V12 engines, they have for years, and that's not going to change, if you know about Ferrari and its history you know that the howl of a Ferrari V12 engine is kind of the company's trademark, it's a big deal and they're not about to go away from that. But they're going to make the V8s and V12s more efficient and more powerful. Dini says they're going to focus on turbochargers on their V8s while making their V12 cars into hybrids.

They're already doing some of this, Ferrari just launched a turbocharged version of its California model, a V8 powered convertible, which they say is 14% more powerful than the older non-turbo version but emits 16% less CO2. So even Ferrari with its V8 and V12 engines is willing and able to make progress on green goals without compromising performance, which bodes very well for those of us who like fast cars that maybe aren't quite in Ferrari's price range. Thanks for watching.


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