Text: Inigo S. Roces / Photos: Dean Ang | posted May 04, 2012 18:50
The Ferrari Interview
Just a few months ago, Autostrada Motore Inc., the first importer-distributor of Ferrari and Maserati in the Philippines, officially opens its door on 32nd & 4th Crescent Park West, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City. The showroom was inaugurated together with its factory certified service center.
There to cut the ribbon as well as pull the covers off new models like the Ferrari 458 and the 599 were Ferrari executives Mr. Herbert Appleroth, President and CEO of Ferrari Asia Pacific, Mr. Simon Inglefield, Head of Region, Ferrari Asia Pacific as well as Mr. Wellington C. Soong, Chair and President of Autostrada Motore Inc. were present to welcome media and VIPs
We were granted a rare interview with Ferrari executives who were able to provide greater insight into the passion behind Ferrari, here and across the globe. What follows is the interesting interview.
Interviewer (IR): Tell us, how is Ferrari’s standing in today’s market?
Herbert Appleroth (HA): Ferrari in Europe and United States is quite consistent when it comes to volume. The growth in Ferrari over the years has now come particularly from Asia. So, we represent around 1,500 of 7,000 sales. We grew 18% last year. And of course, China is a big part of that.
Greater China is the 2nd biggest market around the world, behind United States. The whole of Asia is growing. It’s becoming more prosperous. It’s not limited to China, and that’s why it’s the perfect time for us to be in the Philippines.
You only need to look around this [Fort Bonifacio] precinct to see the vitality and growth around here. Europe and the United states is staying quite constant. Asia will play the biggest part in Ferrari’s growth in the future.
Wellington “Willy” Soong (WS): Asia’s involvement with Ferrari will be a major contribution to the growth of Ferrari globally.
Simon Inglefield (SI): Willy has been looking after Ferrari and Maserati owners. We hope to bring new customers to the brand. You can have scientific calculations with the numbers but for us, it’s the brand and brand representation that will grow. It’s the passion. If Ferrari make one less car than the demand, the demand gets extremely high. And last year, we had the seen the highest recorded performance in Asia. We’ve had 9.5% growth worldwide. Asia gained 18%, during some of the toughest financial years. Our company, being in Italy in spite of the instability there, we still grew.
IR: How do you select someone to be the official distributor of Ferrari in a country?
SI: For the Philippines, as Herbert said, we need to have a partner who has integrity and reputation and is very successful. These are things we consider. We have over 60 cars in the Philippines which have been looked after and maintained exceptionally well. All those factors are very important. We look at each market individually. There’s no one factor. We take in in many factors. Certainly, in this market, Willy and his family have done well to represent Ferrari. Willy’s always chasing us for more cars.
IR: Ferrari has close ties to Shell worldwide. Do those ties extend here?
HA: When it comes to our road cars and the relationship with Shell, it helps us develop engines with the very finest fuels. We have an abundance of support from Shell. Once we have the technology that helps our engine performance in Formula One, that also translates to our road cars and that’s something you can’t get unless they’re part of our company.
SI: In our workshop, Shell are the products we use, they’re very sympathetic with our engines.
WS: Shell Philippines has gone all out to support us.
IR: So how much can we expect to pay for a Ferrari?
WS: The price range would be, depending on the level of customization, maybe 18 M to 30 M.
And the wait for that Ferrari to be delivered?
WS: In the Philippine market, if it’s within our allocation, we can deliver it within 6-9 months. Once that allocation has been sold, then we go to the next category and that’s going to be one year, subject to availability and [our]performance. If we perform well, we get more support. Our allocation will increase.
HA: We’re here to expand the Philippine market, show support. It’s a beautiful showroom so there’s nothing to stop that growing.
IR: Of course selling Ferrari’s in North America is very different from selling Ferrari’s in Asia. Can you tell me some of the challenges of Ferrari in Asia?
HA: Every Asian country is so different. If there’s one thing similar in a lot of markets, it’s the date of handover. We don’t see constant delivery. There are specific dates in the calendar where it’s auspicious to receive a car so their good fortune continues. It puts huge limitations on our facilities. That’s what it is in a lot of Asian markets.
WS: It’s the same in the Philippines. Their choice of color is influenced by what their Feng Shui advises them for that year. A certain year, they cannot have white. They even postpone the actual date of delivery to a date that suits them to even where it will be delivered.
“No, i won’t go to the showroom,” the y will say. “I will push it back or have it in a different place.”
Maybe not their homes, sometimes in the center of a shopping complex because it’s neutral but auspicious for that person. These are very interesting aspects of human interest. I respect it, personally.
HA: Of course with Asia being such a strong part of the business, our product marketing team is very aware of cultures not just in Asia but around the world. We launched the California HS. But in one market, HS is a superstitious term which means car-off road as in terminated or does not work. So we just kept it as “Handling Speciale” and not HS.
SI: Wherever you go worldwide, there’s different expectations; different thoughts about color. They all share the passion which is constant in every market, whether it’s new or established, the passion for red, the prancing horse and everything surrounding that is incredibly strong.
In our plant in Maranello, the heart of Ferrari, where it’s always been made, wherever the people are from, they understand the passion. It’s a holy grail, it’s something that people can’t replicate. It’s what unites Ferrari.
HA: There’s a sense of family in the Philippines and wherever in the world. When you see a Ferrari owner, you instantly have a common bond. It’s very particular with Ferrari because their numbers are very exclusive, customers are very passionate, they love to share their passion. So when they come together from all over the world, no matter what language, it’s the look in the eye. We held a premier last week with some super VIPs from around Asia in Maranello, many different countries and cultures. The look in the eye from all the people, no matter what the nationality, when we took off the covers, it’s like a little boy.
IR: Now there are a lot of people passionate about Ferrari’s but cannot afford them. How will Ferrari’s presence in the Philippines address those individuals?
WS: We try to focus on the motoring passion of the Ferrari experience. You do not have to own one to enjoy it or appreciate it. I don’t own one yet but I have the distinct pleasure of being able to drive all the models we offer. There’s a lot of Ferrari and Maserati merchandise. We hope to come close to the experience of being in a Ferrari store.
SI: As Willy already said earlier, the enjoyment of Ferrari can be shared by many, whether you’re watching F1 in the afternoon or whether you’re buying merchandise; everything from F1 caps, leather jackets, luggage, it gives everyone the opportunity to enjoy Ferrari, gives them a real good experience. You can even go to Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi. The brand is more than just cars, it’s a lifestyle, it’s something we all dream about. It’s really all encompassing.
WS: The association of the brand with these merchandise that you can see. It’s very gratifying seeing them walk around with t-shirts, caps, key chains, watches... it’s that association that they have so much pride in.
IR: Lately, Ferrari has been changing, it’s moved away from the original formula of sexy design and rear wheel drive systems. Does that suggest that Ferrari will look into other forms for future vehicles like a four-door or SUV perhaps?
HA: We launched the FF middle of last year with Ferrari’s own patented 4WD system. It’s not something we took off someone else. It is our own proprietary technology and the time was right to launch that because we got the technology right. Ferrari has its own strategy of different Ferrari models for different Ferraristi.
There was an opening in the marketplace that was not there 10 years ago and you see the influx of Bentley GT’s or even Porsche Panameras or Cayennes - typical luxury owners actually wanting 4WD systems. We have many customers in alpine areas in Switzerland and many customers in tropical weather near beaches and bodies of water. The market almost demanded an all-wheel drive system for when you needed the technology. The FF is a rear wheel drive and is four wheel drive when you need it. So the technology was right, the market was right and it’s proven a big success.
There will be no Ferrari four-door. There’s no need to ruin the design of the car. We’ve already got four seats. The FF is quite a remarkable car because you can fit someone up to 1.95 meters tall in the back. So that’s something that’s never been done by Ferrari before. Now we have that functional four-seater interior space.
IR: Lately, there’s been a lot of pressure on all vehicle manufacturers to produce more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly cars. How is Ferrari addressing this challenge?
HA: A car we recently launched in Frankfurt was the 599 Hy-kers hybrid. When the technology is right, then we’ll look at that technology at hand.
Right now, we have the HELE, High Emotion, Low Emission, which is the start-stop system but also very smart intricate technology which reduces consumption. HELE is a 24% reduction. The 458 is now 570 hp yet 20% less emission than the car it replaces, which had much less power. It’s the pursuit of efficiency that is not just engine technology but the construction of the car to make it stronger and lighter. Obviously, we are the leader in advanced aluminium technology, engine technology, start-stop systems.
It’s not just one. Our product is just one part of our brand. Our factory is one of the most important elements to reducing the footprint of Ferrari. Everyone focuses on just the car but the production process is the biggest contributor to greenhouse gases. We are 10 years ahead of the regulation. On our windows, we have photovoltaic film that captures energy and returns it back to the station. We have our own tri-generation power station. We are completely power independent. When you have an efficient factory like Ferrari plus efficient cars, it’s the perfect mix. I think Ferrari is the leader in that.
IR: Emissions aside, we’re now seeing these super cars creep toward 700 horsepower and higher. Does this make producing the next Ferrari model more difficult? Is it too much for one buyer?
HA: There’s never enough horsepower. Can you have a woman who’s too beautiful? Human nature will always want more. And sometimes, when you’re lucky, it all comes together.
SA: It’s an expression of what Ferrari can achieve. We know that the environment, average mileage travelled by a Ferrari can be a thousand kilometres in a year, day or week. Whether someone will use all 740 bhp is unlikely, maybe on the track. But it shows that the technology is there and what they can achieve along with reductions in fuel consumption, reductions in emissions, all this in the most advanced engine in the world. It’s a showcase for that. There are many aspects of a Ferrari to enjoy.
HA: It doesn’t stop us. Our boss, the senior vice president, he said something that was very interesting. We closed the year with 7,000 units. The next day, there wasn’t a celebration. He was like, “How can we do better?” Why are we like that? It comes from Formula One. As soon as you stop trying to beat the competitor, you’re going backwards. And it stems from our Formula 1. You can’t stop. We may have the most beautiful car, but you can’t stop. You have to keep going because you know the competitors are not going to stop. It’s in our DNA.