For years, Ferrari dragged its heels on joining the electric vehicle revolution until it finally caved in and started developing a fully-electric car. But the Italian luxury auto company says it’s unlikely to ever cave to another major car trend: self-driving vehicles.
The iconic supercar maker’s brand is to design sports cars that people want to drive themselves, and capitulating to self-driving technology like others such as Tesla have would be antithetical to the company’s spirit, according to Ferrari CEO Benedetto Vigna.
“There are four kinds of software. There is performance software, there is comfort software, there is infotainment software, and there is autonomous,” Vigna said at the Future of the Car Summit hosted by the Financial Times in London on Tuesday.
“The last one, we don’t care,” he continued.
It isn’t the first time Vigna or other Ferrari executives have pledged not to go autonomous, arguing that enabling their cars to drive themselves would defeat the purpose of buying one, since most customers who purchase a Ferrari don’t plan on being driven around by someone or something else.
“No customer is going to spend money for the computer in the car to enjoy the drive,” Vigna said in an interview with Bloomberg last year. “The value of the man, of the human at the center, is fundamental.”
Ferrari executives knew as far back as 2016 that self-driving technology was not in the cards for the company any time soon. “There will be no autonomous Ferrari in the foreseeable future,” Nicola Boari, at the time Ferrari’s product marketing director, said in an interview with Car magazine. “When you are driving a Ferrari, we want you to concentrate.”
In the case of Ferrari, a company that proudly does almost all of its production in-house, executives may not have wanted to dedicate resources to develop autonomous driving technology in any case, Vigna suggested at the FT’s summit.
Car companies, from legacy manufacturers to autonomy-focused startups, have sunk over $100 billion into self-driving technology since 2014, according to a 2021 report by consulting firm McKinsey. But few companies have much to show for their investments, as Tesla vehicles equipped with driver assistance systems alone have been accused of causing hundreds of accidents.
Despite the setbacks, many carmakers are doubling down on autonomous driving, especially companies with the backing of large parents. For instance, Volkswagen AG—among the world’s largest automakers by sales that operates brands including Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche—announced a $2.3 billion investment in a joint venture with a Chinese autonomous driving company last year.
While Ferrari won’t roll out self-driving cars anytime soon, if ever, potential customers hoping the luxury brand will modernize were likely encouraged by Vigna’s comments about the company‘s planned electric future.
For the same reasons Ferrari opposed autonomous cars, it has been reluctant to trade in its powerful combustion-fired engines for quiet batteries. In 2013, the company’s then-chairman Luca di Montezemolo professed that Ferrari would “never manufacture an electric car for as long as I am chairman” as the company scrambled to stay close to its roots.
But the EV tide has only grown in the decade since, with several other sports car brands including Porsche and Maserati introducing their own electrified models. Ferrari is now developing its first fully-electric car, due in 2025, to stay competitive and has even announced a target to hit carbon neutrality by 2030 across its entire value chain, from sourcing materials to manufacturing. The company will continue to produce hybrids and internal-combustion vehicles, utilizing e-fuels made from captured carbon dioxide emissions and cleanly-generated hydrogen.
In a financial outlook presented last year, Ferrari set itself a goal for 80% of its sales to be hybrids or fully electric by 2030, and during the FT summit this week, Vigna reiterated that, due to e-fuels, the company’s growth plan was “fully compatible” with its carbon neutrality goals.