By on November 18, 2011

It’s no secret that Ferrari has been wrestling with the inevitable conflict between its bellowing V12s and European emission regulations, but that’s not the only challenge facing the Prancing Horse’s powertrain division. Sure, there’s the increasingly-tenuous link  between the Scuderia’s Formula One technology and its road cars [sub], but in the short term that actually helps the emissions issue by creating a pretext for bringing KERS to the road (where it otherwise has little role). In fact, the real issue for Ferrari’s powertrain team is not even a “Ferrari issue” at all, but a Maserati issue.

One of the keys to Maserati’s success as a brand, is the fact that its engines are supplied by Ferrari, a “secret” kept by precisely nobody and referenced in every Maserati review ever written. And considering that Ferrari has to limit its production to 7,000 units in order to maintain exclusivity, it’s not a bad way to build scale on such limited-production engines. The problem is this: with Ferrari unable to grow its volume (instead, focusing purely on profits), Maserati has to. Thus, the new plan to build 40,000 new Maseratis per year by 2014, up from 5,700 cars sold in 2010. About 20k units of that volume are expected to be Kubang SUVs, and the rest will come from two sedans that straddle the current Quattroporte. The Kubang will come with Maser’s 4.7 liter V8, and the two sedans will use direct-injected V6 twin-turbo or V8 engines, also developed and built by Ferrari. Maserati CEO Harald Wester tells evo Magazine (print edition)

Paolo Martinelli [Maserati’s powertrain boss and a previous engine chief for the Ferrari F1 team] is developing these new engines right now in Maranello, and Ferrari will be producing them exclusively for Maserati.

And, admits Wester that will present some serious challenges, as Maserati is talking about a seven-fold increase in engine demand.

If we need 30,000 Ferrari engines, the project is different. The set-up is perfect in terms of quality, but Ferrari will have to do something significant to be able to supply us with the engines we will require in the future.

But how does Ferrari ramp up to make seven times as many engines without losing any quality or exclusivity? Here’s where the story gets strange, as evo reports

Ferrari is already investigating working double shifts in its engine plant as a way to increase production

…and that’s it. Now, I don’t know enough about Ferrari’s powertrain plant to know whether it’s possible to get seven times the volume by switching to a double shift, but it sure sounds like a challenge. And if nothing else, it certainly takes a little of the exclusivity out of the Ferrari brand. But then, a slightly-less exclusive Ferrari is probably more than worth it when you multiply Maserati’s profits margins by 40,000. In any case, we’ll be curious to see how Ferrari manages this situation going forward.

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11 Comments on “Ferrari’s Engine Problem...”

  • avatar

    Barring a very, very widespread depression, those 7000 units are only going to become more and more exclusive, as they have to be allocated across an ever larger number of wealthier countries. With that kind of margin power, any kind of emissions regime should be easy to work around. If nothing else, just buy various pretentious bureaucrats 10 Leafs for every Ferrari sold, and “amortize” emissions that way.

    I’m less convinced it is even desirable to power sedans, SUVs and the like with the kind of engines that are exciting in low mileage, hyper exclusive sports cars in the first place. But I might be wrong, as it seems half of Europe is convinced powering sedans, SUVs and the like with engines best suited for 18 wheelers :)

  • avatar

    Um, there’s probably a lot more Ferrari will be doing, such as adding more automation, but Wester probably knows there is a lot of slack in the Ferrari engine plant… they could probably build a lot more engines but don’t –in order to stretch out the work to fill the demand. Figure each shift tripling (at minimum) its output.

    Edit: I forgot. Since F1 limits the number of engines the teams can use during the season, there’s probably a lot of Ferrari engine guys twiddling their thumbs, looking for something to build.

  • avatar

    Maybe its me, but I don’t see it as that big of an exclusivity problem. The Maserati V-8 is a great engine in Ferrari and Maserati guise, but the Ferrari engines are now in the stratosphere of technology… you couldn’t produce a volume car in that state of tune. If I recall from a few years ago, Maserati was interested in de-coupling from Ferrari because the engines were sort of built as if they were prototypes, and not with a manufacturing process suited for mass production.

    What will hurt exclusivity is the sound of a turbo v-6. There’s nothing like the sound of a flat-crank v-8 of the current engines.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, it’s not like they haven’t made Ferraris with V6 engines before.

      • 0 avatar

        Ah, but Enzo wouldn’t put his name on it. At the time, Ferrari road cars were all V12 powered, and the 206 and 246 models were sold as Dinos rather than Ferraris. So basically there has never been a V6 Ferrari.

      • 0 avatar

        Ah, but Enzo wouldn’t put his name on it.

        True, true. Just his beloved dead son’s name. While the 206/246 wears “Dino” badging, try to tell a Dino owner that it isn’t a real Ferrari. Funny thing is that plenty of tifosi turned their noses up at the 6 cyl Dino, which are now worth more than a lot of “real” Ferraris of the same vintage.

      • 0 avatar

        I know who Dino was, and the 246GTS was my dream car right up until I drove one when I was 17 years old. Nonetheless, they weren’t sold as Ferraris, and marketing is everything when you’re charging $300K for awkwardly shaped yawn mobiles with mandatory automatic transmissions.

    • 0 avatar

      So basically there has never been a V6 Ferrari.

      On a road car, that is. The 156 Grand Prix cars had V6 engines.

  • avatar

    …and the two sedans will use direct-injected V6 twin-turbo

    Because that configuration was very successful the first time Maserati tried it.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    wabbout a Cryco V6 or a pushrod hemi V8 for Maserati ?

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