Ferrari will unveil new 488 GTB at Geneva show

Neil Winton
Special to The Detroit News

Maranello, Italy – Ferrari, the luxury sports car maker that will be spun off from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) later this year, will launch its latest model at the Geneva Car Show next month, the 488 GTB.

Ferrari said 488 GTB provides track-level performance that can be enjoyed to the full even by non-professional drivers in everyday use.

“Its response times, nimbleness and on-the-limit driving guarantee a unique sense of exhilaration and unparalleled driving pleasure,” it said in a statement.

The GTB has a new 3.9 liter V8 turbo gasoline engine, which produces 670 hp at 8,000 rpm along with 760 Nm of maximum torque in seventh. This will slingshot the 488 from a standstill to 200 km/h – 125 mph — in 8.3 seconds and get to 60 mph in under three seconds.

Ferrari is very proud of the new car’s aerodynamics, thanks to more down-force and less drag.

“Several innovative elements were specifically developed to do so, not least a double front spoiler, base bleed side intakes and, at the rear, active aerodynamics coupled with a blown spoiler. The aerodynamic underbody, which incorporates vortex generators, is highly sophisticated, too,” Ferrari said.

Ferrari also makes a big deal about the car’s fuel consumption, which is claimed to be an average 20.4 miles per U.S. gallon. This is achieved by using turbo-charging technology, and will be one of the areas which investors will look closely at when Ferrari is spun off. While it is an integral part of FCA, Ferrari is able to average out its gas guzzlers with hundreds of thousands of small cars like the Fiat 500. It will stand alone after the spin-off.

FCA’s decision to sell 10 percent of its Ferrari subsidiary and spin-off the rest to shareholders has also triggered a debate about how much this storied luxury sports car maker is worth and valuations vary by around $5 billion.

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne reportedly believes Ferrari is worth up to $12.2 billion, but analysts’ estimates are substantially lower. Chicago-based Morningstar analyst Richard Hilgert estimates Ferrari’s worth at $7.4 billion. Bernstein Research reckons about $7.3 billion.

Some investors argue Ferrari can’t be valued as a luxury goods outfit as some have suggested. It’s margins are way too low and its capital intensity too high to be valued like a fashion company.

Marchionne replaced Ferrari chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo with himself last year after a dispute about long term sales strategy. Montezemolo was said to want to keep sales at the current level of around 7,000 because any more risked diluting the power of the brand. Marchionne reckoned sales could reach 10,000 without any harm.

Annual sales of 10,000 is also the figure likely to be the maximum allowed by the U.S. government for exemption from CO2 fuel efficiency rules.

Ferrari is expected to increase its range with a smaller, cheaper V6 sports car or perhaps an SUV.

The Geneva Car Show is open to the public March 5-15.