The LaFerrari sports car was never intended to be an easy-to-obtain vehicle, even for those deep-pocketed gear heads who can afford a $1.4 million piece of Italian automotive history.
But even Ferrari seems surprised at how quickly its limited-run successor to the Enzo raced from the factory in Maranello, Italy, into the garages of high net worth individuals. LaFerrari was unveiled at the Geneva auto show in March, but on Tuesday during a U.S. media blitz that NBC claims was the first time the vehicle debuted on U.S. national television, Marco Mattiacci, the president and CEO of Ferrari North America, said all 499 units, including the 120 cars built for the U.S. market, are sold.
Ferrari is using a lot of superlatives to describe LaFerrari. It’s the first hybrid Ferrari (powered by a 124-lb lithium-ion battery made by South Korea’s Samsung Electronics) that helps it achieve 960 horsepower on less gasoline than a standard engine. It’s the first Ferrari to adopt regenerative braking. It’s the fastest street legal Ferrari. It’s the first Ferrari in 40 years to have received no input from famed Italian car-design firm Pininfarina SpA (BIT:PINF). It set a record pace at Ferrari’s test track in Fiorano hitting 62 mph in less than 3 seconds and 124 mph in seven. It’s the first Ferrari to use four types of carbon fiber and Kevlar in its body style to reduce weight.
In a market with increasingly more million dollar-plus driving machines from competitors like Bugatti, owned by Volkswagen AG (FRA:VOW), and Pagani Automobili SpA, Ferrari, which is 90 percent-owned by Fiat SpA (BIT:F), has been scaling back production this year to preserve brand exclusivity. It built 99 more LaFerraris than it did the Enzo, but the company said earlier this year that it’s committed to keeping sales of its six current models below 7,000 in 2013 after topping that figure for the first time in 2011. Last year Ferrari sold a record 7,318 cars, up nearly 73 percent from a decade earlier.
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Ferrari Chairman Luca Montezemolo told journalists earlier this year that the brand's exclusivity is part of the company’s identity and that having demand that exceeds supply is an important part of developing Ferrari’s image.
"We don't sell a normal product," Montezemolo said to reporters in May. "We sell a dream.”
Even for the world’s wealthiest car fanatics, owning a LaFerrari is going to be just that: a dream.