Ferrari CEO says electric cars may not be as clean as they seem

Key Points
  • Sergio Marchionne is still skeptical of electric cars.
  • The Ferrari and Fiat Chrysler chief says a more thorough analysis of electric cars is needed.
  • Electric cars have not been popular with Ferrari executives or fans.
Ferrari CEO suggests electric cars may not be as clean as they seem
Ferrari CEO suggests electric cars may not be as clean as they seem

Electric cars may not be saving the planet at all, says Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne.

The full environmental impact of electric cars needs to be analyzed more thoroughly before we can determine them to be more innocuous than internal combustion engines, he said.

"I think that if you don't do the full analysis of what the origin of the electrical power is, where it comes from, how you get batteries into these cars, what the cost is in terms of CO2 and the environment, I think the analysis that we are going to save the planet with electric cars is nonsense," said Marchionne, who is also chairman and CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and chairman of Maserati. The executive spoke to CNBC Monday morning.

"If the base of that electrical production is nuclear, then I have zero issue. We'll all be doing the right thing," Marchionne said. "But you are embracing nuclear power as the solution to your problems. If you are relying on fossil fuels to produce it, I think the issue is much bigger."

Marchionne has a history of pushing back against the electrification trend elsewhere in the industry. Tesla has pretty well proven electric cars can be highly desirable. Most of the major automakers have some kind of electric car, or at least plans to develop them in the next few years.

This is despite the fact that electric cars are typically not profitable for most automakers, at least not yet.

Ferrari has no public plans to make electric cars, and both executives and Ferrari fans have said electric cars would not fit in with the company's brand image.

This may change, in part due to competition from companies such as Tesla, and in part to pressure from governments bent on curbing carbon emissions.

Fiat Chryser does offer electric models — Marchionne said the company loses as much as $20,000 on each electric version of the Fiat 500, according to Bloomberg.