Ferrari joins the green revolution

Italy's red racing giant Ferrari wants to go green, cutting emissions without sacrificing horsepower and working on a new hybrid model set to thrill pro-environment speed junkies.

Head of development Matteo Lanzavecchia said at the luxury car-maker's historic factory in Maranello, a small town in the Emilia Romagna region: “We're working on reducing energy consumption without forgetting that the symbol of Ferrari is performance.

A Ferrari technician works on a road car at the Maranello factory. Credit: AFP

“We've also managed to up the power to while still reducing CO2 emissions by 30 percent,” he said.

The sleek “California 30”, one of the brand's most sought-after models with a price tag of €180 000 (R2 million), has been vamped up with the new technology - extra power but weighing 30 kilograms less than the previous version.

“We're going all out, not just using the lightest materials but making adjustments across the board. We have improved the brake system to reduce friction and the fan to reduce energy consumption,” Lanzavecchia said.

And the green drive doesn’t stop there.

Trees have been planted among the towering steel machines on the Maranello factory floor to control the air's humidity levels.

The most recent buildings have also been built with vast glass bays to allow more light in and slash electricity consumption.

The hybrid car - set to reach showrooms in the next few months - aims to lure customers not only with its green credentials but also the promise of a taste of the Formula One experience.

It will have the Kinetic energy recovery system used in the race cars - which recovers energy during braking and stores it for future use, “to reduce consumption but also capture the thrill of driving a Ferrari”, Lanzavecchia said.

The luxury brand has managed to avoid fallout from the economic crisis which hit the standard automobile industry.

Last year 7200 Ferraris were sold around the world, up 10 percent from 2010, and the company's turnover in 2012 has shot up above the €2 billion (R23 billion) level for the first time in its history.

As well as focussing on emerging markets, the brand has been tempting clients with “personal stylist” services and gadgets to gussy up the inside of gleaming new Ferraris.

Commercial director Enrico Galliera explained: “There are opportunities all over the world. Of course, we are more prudent about some markets such as Europe, but there are others where the economy is growing - China, Indonesia, Malaysia or the United States.”

For a small fee - up to half the cost of the vehicle - customers can personalise the car's interior with cashmere, peccary or teak and choose their favourite model of seats, seat-belt, audio system and touch-screen.

Nicola Boari, head of the personal shopper system, said: “We have personal designers who help the client choose and give them advice.”

Nearby, women in red overalls cut out metres of fabric for the cars' interiors, tailoring them specially for each new owner.

Anything goes - as long as it stays within the limits of good taste and conforms to Ferrari's glossy and seductive “Italian style”.

One of the stylists said: “We would never let a Ferrari leave our factory with crocodile-leather seats or our trademark horse symbol done in diamonds.”

The extras may cost, but that doesn’t seem to put eager customers off - about 98 percent of them choose to personalise their their new Ferraris