Also electric sports cars? Italy opposes European Parliament decision


NOS NewsSunday, 19:50

  • Helen D’Haens

    correspondent Italy

  • Helen D’Haens

    correspondent Italy

Even those who are barely interested in sports cars cannot compete with the enthusiasm with which Fabio Barone, president of the Italian Ferrari fan club, talks about his car. “Do you feel this in your stomach?” he asks as he revs the engine. “Isn’t this a work of art?”, as he opens the glass hood and reveals the red engine.

But what can he still show in fifteen years? Earlier this month, the European Parliament decided, on the advice of the European Commission, that from 2035 no car produced in the EU should have an internal combustion engine. “If you ignore the sound of this car, and only hear birds while driving, you take away a large part of the emotion,” fears Barone. He is not the only one in Italy who is dissatisfied with the European decision.

With passion and pride, Barone lets out the sound of such a Ferrari engine. “A unique sound,” he says:

An electric Ferrari is a bridge too far for this fan: ‘Better die’

The Italian luxury car industry is concentrated in Motor Valley, the region around the city of Bologna. Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Ducati. Name a luxury brand and it is most likely produced there. From Motor Valley has lobbied vigorously for an exception to the rules prior to the European decision.

This was successful to some extent: brands that produce less than 10,000 vehicles a year were given an extra year to ban internal combustion engines. In addition, they do not have to meet the interim deadlines set by the European Parliament in 2025 and 2030.

But the car companies are not satisfied. Because electric cars have fewer parts, and therefore require less work to assemble, he fears Motor Valley job loss. The industry includes not only car manufacturers themselves, but also smaller companies that make parts. In total there are more than 16,000, employing as many as 90,000 people.

For that reason, the Italian government is also opposing the plans. Last week, Prime Minister Draghi signed a document asking for a longer transition period to “avoid disproportionate and unnecessary costs to the auto industry and consumers.” The fact that the new rules also apply to luxury cars has, according to Draghi, “a negative effect on employment and the innovation potential of small manufacturers.”

Maserati is over

Not all manufacturers agree. At Maserati, they are happy to show the production hall of their hybrid model MC20, and they are confidently looking forward to the launch of their first electric sports car next year. “It has 1,200 horsepower and the batteries are positioned exactly so that the performance and weight distribution are the same as on a car with an internal combustion engine,” said executive Francesco Tonon.

Tonon emphasizes that his brand is not cooperating with the lobby out Motor Valley. “We knew five years ago that it was only a matter of time until we had to make the transition, and we were fully committed to it. Meeting the European deadlines depends on when a brand started the transition.”

Moreover, according to Tonon, there is indeed a market for electric luxury sports cars. “There are clear benefits for the customer. The performance, but also the possibility to make a sustainable choice. That is an important trend in luxury.”

Buy time

Ferrari fan Francesco Barone sees the future less rosy. “I certainly believe that the world should become greener, but then you should not start with the sports cars. Those cars make up such a small part of the production, and drive so few kilometers per year, that I do not think that green luxury cars to make the planet greener.”

European government leaders are expected to ratify the European Parliament’s decision in the autumn. Barone hopes that the Italian government can buy some more time.

Whether he will ever buy an electric Ferrari is hard to say. “Right now I say no. But the future is the future. Maybe I’ll keep one with petrol in my garage and buy an electric one in an attempt to adapt.”