Marchionne hints at once-'obscene' idea: a Formula E electric Ferrari

He sees it as a way to develop hybrid tech.

Ferrari is certainly protective of its brand image, even if it means coming off as a Luddite. A year ago, Chairman and ( now) CEO Sergio Marchionne said that an all-electric Ferrari would be " almost an obscene concept," adding, "You'd have to shoot me first." So it's surprising to see him tell Auto, the FIA's magazine, that "we need to be involved" in all-electric racing series Formula E.

Earlier the interview, Marchionne talks up Ferrari's need for electrification, at least in terms of incorporating more hybrid technology. "Hybridization is crucial to Ferrari," he says, not necessarily in meeting emissions targets, but for performance. Ferrari will use new technology, electrification included, in future models, with a focus on creating an emotional experience for the driver. Late last year, Marchionne said that the brand would leverage hybrid technology to boost production figures and profits, and that every model would offer some hybrid technology by 2019.

When asked about the likelihood of Formula E entry, Marchionne says, "It's difficult to say." He then adds, "We need to be involved in Formula E because electrification via hybridization is going to be part of our future."

What that level of involvement would be is also uncertain, but he didn't rule out the possibility of a Ferrari Formula E racer, which would by necessity be all-electric. Of course, Ferrari could find a development role in the race series without entering its own vehicle. Regardless of the type of involvement, Ferrari's reputation could stand to gain from representation in the series, especially if it means it's not appearing to fall behind the likes of McLaren, Jaguar, BMW, and Audi, who have all played a part in Formula E.

Either way, it appears that Marchionne is warming up to electrification, and that the idea of an all-electric Ferrari – even if it's confined to a single race series — isn't quite as obscene as it once seemed.

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