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Red goes green in Maranello

2012-12-27 08:06

FINISHING TOUCHES: An employee works on a car in Ferrari's Maranello plant in italy which employs more than 3000 people to assemble GT and Formula 1 cars. Image: AFP

Ljubomir Milasin

MARANELLO, Italy - Ferrari, Italy's red racing giant, wants to go green by cutting emissions without sacrificing engine power and is working on a new hybrid car to thrill pro-environment speed junkies.

Matteo Lanzavecchia, Ferrari's head of development, said: "We're working on reducing energy consumption without forgetting that the symbol of Ferrari is performance while reducing CO2 emissions by 30%."

The sleek California 30, one of the brand's most sought-after models and a price equivalent to R2.07-million, has been vamped up with new technology for extra power but the car weighs 30kg less than the previous version.

TREES IN THE FACTORY

"We're going all out, not just using the lightest materials but also by making adjustments across the board," Lanzavecchia said. "We've improved the brakes to reduce friction and the fan to reduce energy consumption."

The green drive extends to the factory floor: trees have been planted among the towering steel machines to control the air's humidity levels and the most recent buildings have vast glass bays to allow in more light and slash electricity consumption.

The hybrid California 30 about to reach showrooms is intended to lure customers not only with its green credentials but also the promise of an off-track taste of an F1 experience. It will have the kinetic energy recovery system used in race cars to recharge batteries while slowing "to reduce consumption but also capture the thrill of driving a Ferrari".

The system is also used by a number of other upmarket brands.

WORLD OPPORTUNITIES

Ferrari sold 7200 cars through 2011 - 10% more than the previous year - and turnover has risen to more than R23-billion for the first time. As well as focusing on emerging markets, the brand has been tempting clients with "personal stylist" services and gadgets to gussy up the inside of gleaming new Ferraris.

Commercial director Enrico Galliera said: "There are opportunities all over the world. Of course we are more prudent about  markets such as Europe but there are others where the economy is growing - China, Indonesia, Malaysia and the US."

For a small fee - maybe half again on the cost of the standard vehicle - customers can personalise the car's interior with cashmere and teak and choose their favourite seats, seat belts, audio system and touch-screen.

Nicola Boari, head of the personal shopper operation, said: "We have personal designers to help the client to choose,"

CROCODILE LEATHER'S OUT

Nearby, women in red overalls cut metres of fabric for the cars' interiors, tailoring them for each new owner. Anything goes - as long as it shows good taste and conforms to Ferrari's glossy and seductive "Italian style".

As one of the stylists said: "We would never let a Ferrari leave our factory with crocodile-leather seats or our trademark horse symbol done in diamonds."

The extras may cost but that doesn't seem to put off eager customers. About 98% choose to jazz-up their new Ferrari.

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