Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ferrari

Ferrari's niche is defined by elegance, exclusivity and speed. Their position is in danger on all three fronts.

Elegance and exclusivity are fading quickly. Their logo is no longer sought after. It's everywhere. Why would anyone want a car that is also a brand of socks, pencil sets and neckties? Solving this problem is easy enough. They just need to stop plastering their logo all over everything.

It is becoming harder to define a car company in terms of speed. Street legal cars are hitting technological limits, just as race cars did decades ago.

Ferrari is strong in both areas. While I was working on Japanese Car Magazine in the 90s, I asked Peter Brock and John Morton about race cars. Both agreed that for many years, it had been possible to build cars capable of pulling more Gs than a driver could endure. Both thought unmanned racing would be an anathema.

More and more ordinary cars have their top speeds set by governors at 130-150 mph. These speeds used to be the realm of exotics. Higher end cars without governors can hit 200 mph, but there is little potential beyond that. Land speed records are held by vehicles at testing facilities that ride on rails to prevent them from becoming airborne.

Even without their logo problems, Ferrari has a dilemma. Where do they go from here? Is it possible to maintain a niche based on speed? Can or should they transition to something else? Comments?

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