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Ferrari CEO Says Company Will Maintain Internal Combustion Engines as ‘Essential Part of the Company’s Heritage’

Neil Campbell
Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.
Published: May 21, 2023
A photo of the Ferrari 488 Spider at the 88th Geneva International Motor Show on March 7, 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland. CEO Benedetto Vigna told the BBC in a May 14 interview that Ferrari would maintain its internal combustion engine tradition as part of the company’s heritage in spite of a trending push by governments to force all new vehicles to be electric-only within the next dozen years. (Image: Robert Hradil/Getty Images)

Legendary supercar manufacturer Ferrari says it will maintain its internal combustion engine despite pressures to replace petrol engines with battery-powered electric systems.

CEO Benedetto Vigna made the statements in an interview with the BBC published in a brief May 14 article. 

Vigna was quoted as stating, “I don’t want to be arrogant and impose a choice on our client…It is the client who must choose if they want an ICE (internal combustion engine), a hybrid or an electric car.”

The boss was quoted as stating that combustion engines are “an essential part of the company’s heritage” and one that a company representative said provides a “unique driving experience.”


Ferrari is not alone in its sector. Rival competitor McLaren announced in a May 9 press release that it was entering into a long-term agreement to produce its V8 combustion engine with manufacturer Ricardo, which includes hybrid powertrains.

Although governments, such as Canada’s ruling Liberal Party under Justin Trudeau, have taken the first steps to require all new vehicles manufactured to be “zero emissions” by 2035, with a 20 percent EV quota imposed as soon as 2026, for the ultra-elite demographic that can purchase and enjoy the world’s finest cars, the combustion engine experience retains its powerful attraction.

In March, Reuters reported that residents of Singapore, which looks to ban the purchase of combustion engine vehicles as soon as 2030, have a huge appetite for the classic elite supercars.

“Over the past decade, the number of Ferraris in Singapore has grown by 67% and Lamborghinis by 38%. The number of McLarens has grown more than five-fold to 180 since 2012, the data shows. There are almost five times more Porsches on the road than Teslas,” the article stated.

Reuters also photographed Eu Gene Goh, described as a local chip designer and an “electric-vehicle evangelist” who owns a pair of Teslas, who just is “not ready to give up his S$1.6-million ($1.21 million) McLaren 765LT with a V8 engine capable of hitting 100 km per hour (62 miles per hour) in three seconds.”

Goh said, however, that his Model 3 is his go-to daily driver, costing only $700 to charge for 11,000 kilometers of driving in 2022.

“For a daily driver, I wouldn’t go back to a normal petrol car,” he stated.

But added there was no replacement for the McLaren in his garage, “I like technology and I find supercars, especially McLarens, it’s like taking technology and art and putting it together.”

In March, Reuters noted that the European Union had created a loophole for combustion engines to continue to be sold so long as they can run on “carbon neutral e-fuels.”

Vigna was relieved in comments to reporters, “The good news for us as a company…is that on top of electric cars, we’ll also be able to go on with our internal combustion engine ones.”

“This decision is very interesting for us because it allows ICEs to go beyond 2036,” Vigna continued.

The outlet noted in a June 2022 article, a Ferrari corporate roadmap stated that 80 percent of its production would shift to electric and hybrid vehicles as soon as 2030.

By mid-2021, Ferrari already had 3 hybrids in its lineup, the 296 GTB, the SF90 Stradale, and the SF90 Spider.

The 296 GTB, a plug-in hybrid, pushes over 800 horsepower maximum output when pairing its combustion engine with an electrified powertrain.

The company is set to debut its very first all-electric vehicle in 2025. However, extremely little details have been made publicly available.

Vigna told the media that Ferrari’s variant will be nothing like a Tesla, a vehicle he was paraphrased as lamenting as a daily driver that takes its owner from point A to point B, according to enthusiast website Hot Cars in February reporting.

“Driving thrills is a combination of factors: longitudinal acceleration, lateral acceleration, sound, gear-changing, and braking. This doesn’t change if the powertrain is electric,” Vigna stated.

The stance is a total about-face compared to comments made in May of 2013 by Chairman Luca di Montezemolo who told media “we will never manufacture an electric car as long as I’m chairman” during a public relations event at a company factory, Yahoo reported.

By September 2014, di Montezemolo resigned after holding the chairman’s seat for 23 years amid a slew of unclear reasons, Car and Driver reported.

Just a week earlier to the BBC interview, Vigna told an audience at the  Future of the Car Summit in London that when it came to autonomous driving, “we don’t care,” reported Fortune.

“No customer is going to spend money for the computer in the car to enjoy the drive,” the CEO told Bloomberg in 2022, adding that “the value of the man, of the human at the center, is fundamental.”