(171104) -- BUCHAREST, Nov. 4, 2017 (Xinhua) -- Photo taken on Nov. 3, 2017 shows a Ferrari car during the media preview of the Bucharest Auto Show & Accessories 2017, in Bucharest, Romania. (Xinhua/Gabriel Petrescu) (zjy)
INTERNATIONAL - Two years ago, Sergio Marchionne dubbed the notion of a Ferrari that can run without the aggressive growl of its 12-cylinder engines “obscene.” Today, it’s a reality.

Marchionne, Ferrari’s chief executive, says the supercar manufacturer has been quietly - very quietly - testing a petrol-electric hybrid car “you could run silently” at a track near its headquarters in the northern Italian town of Maranello.

A video posted on YouTube last month shows a car at the Ferrari track making no sound as it accelerates from a full stop.

While Ferrari has no plans to produce a full-electric car before 2022, the company is developing vehicles that will show “the full power of electrification,” Marchionne said.

Next year, Ferrari will start offering the technology in a sports car, its first model that can run entirely on battery power for any significant distance.

The hybrid engine will soon be an option on all new models, and from 2020 the carmaker will use it as the sole drivetrain for its first sport-utility vehicle, which Marchionne says will be the fastest SUV on the market.

Analysts expect Ferrari to boost annual production to almost 15000 cars, from 9000 last year.

The expansion will focus on attracting wealthy customers who might not buy a screaming sports car that can top 200 miles per hour (322km/* ), but would pay more than $300000 for a distinctive luxury ride they can take to the office or on a weekend trip to the countryside.

Ferrari’s growing interest in electric motors mirrors the strategies of many of its high-performance rivals.

Porsche next year plans to introduce its first all-electric sports car, a coupé called the Mission E.

Aston Martin will start selling an electric version of the Rapide in 2019.

And Bentley in March introduced a hybrid version of its Bentayga SUV and says that by 2025 all its vehicles will offer some sort of electric drive train.

Since 2013, Ferrari has built about 700 LaFerraris, a supercar costing as much as $2.1million that combines a pair of electric motors with a 12-cylinder petrol engine to boost acceleration (and in a pinch can travel a few hundred metres on batteries alone).

The technology, developed for Formula One racing, delivers 963 horsepower - more than any previous Ferrari model - while cutting fuel consumption by as much as 40percent. 

- BLOOMBERG