Ferrari's Engine Problem

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

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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3 of 11 comments
  • Ajla Ajla on Nov 18, 2011
    ...and the two sedans will use direct-injected V6 twin-turbo Because that configuration was very successful the first time Maserati tried it.

  • Andy D Andy D on Nov 18, 2011

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

    • Davekaybsc Davekaybsc on Nov 18, 2011

      Sure, call it the Maserati TC by Chrysler. The orders will just come POURING in.

  • Robert I have had 4th gen 1996 model for many years and enjoy driving as much now as when I first purchased it - has 190 hp variant with just the right amount of power for most all driving situations!
  • ToolGuy Meanwhile in Germany...
  • Donald More stuff to break god I love having a nanny in my truck... find a good tuner and you can remove most of the stupid stuff they add like this and auto park when the doors open stupid stuff like that
  • John Williams Sounds like a Burnout Special you can put together on any 5.0 F150. Whoever said this was Cars and Coffee bait is right on the money.
  • ToolGuy Question: F-150 FP700 (  Bronze or  Black) supercharger kit is legal in 50 states, while the  Mustang supercharger kit is banned in California -- why??