Ferrari is introducing a new “entry-level” supercar, while Mercedes-Benz is testing the segment’s upper price limit as the rivals vie for the world’s most lucrative customers.
At the Frankfurt International Motor Show, Ferrari rolled out the €196,000 Portofino, while Mercedes’s AMG high-performance sub-brand is highlighting the Project One concept, which sports Formula 1 hybrid technology and has a whopping price tag of €2.2m.
The models are crucial to the strategic plans of both automakers. Ferrari is banking on the Portofino to help boost sales to 9,000 cars in 2019, up from a target of 8,400 this year, to help secure its independence as the industry grapples with the strains of shifting to electric cars.
AMG is critical to parent Daimler’s €10bn effort to ramp up electric offerings by showing that cleaner powertrains can still be upscale and sporty.
Lamborghini is also wrestling with the changing dynamics in the supercar segment, especially as parent Volkswagen embarks on a €20bn push to electrify its entire lineup.
The first sign of that shift for the exotic Italian brand will come later this year with the unveiling of a model based on the Urus prototype, which Lamborghini teased in a video in Frankfurt as the world’s first “super sport” utility vehicle. The model will also be the brand’s first hybrid.
“The next step for Lamborghini will be for sure hybridisation,” said Stefano Domenicali, the brand’s chief.
"But these iconic cars have to be different from others, so this is really the position we need to keep in order to keep alive the dream,” he said.
For Ferrari, spun off from Fiat Chrysler in 2016, the Portofino is less about technology than expansion as it seeks to gradually increase sales and boost profit, with a goal of eventually pushing past the 10,000 mark for deliveries.
The Portofino’s deliveries, which will start in the first quarter in Europe are forecast to amount to about 3,200 cars, 40%.
“If the good beginning bodes well, our dealers got orders even before the debut,” said Enrico Galliera, the Italian brand’s head of sales.
The hard-top convertible has a 600-horsepower V8 engine, 40 horsepower more than its predecessor. The car can accelerate to 100km/h in as little as 3.5 seconds.
The Maranello-based manufacturer is showing off the model to the wider public for the first time following a customers-only unveiling last week in the town of Portofino. The event was part of the 70th-anniversary celebration of Ferrari’s founding.
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