Ferrari plans an electric supercar that would compete with Tesla

Key Points
  • Ferrari plans to make an electric supercar, said CEO Sergio Marchionne.
  • The Italian carmaker has been skeptical of all-electric supercars, but does sell cars with hybrid engines.
Sergio Marchionne, Chief Executive Officer, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is viewed next to a Ferrari after ringing the Closing Bell on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on October 13, 2014 in New York City.
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Ferrari plans to make a high-end electric car, said CEO Sergio Marchionne on Tuesday.

The auto executive, who also heads Fiat-Chrysler, told reporters at the North American International Auto Show that whatever Tesla has done with high-end electrics can be done by others in the industry.

The plan would be a significant change of direction for Marchionne and Ferrari. While the Italian carmaker equips some cars with hybrid technology, Marchionne once called the idea of a completely electric Ferrari "almost an obscene concept."

Some Ferrari fans would agree. An all-electric Ferrari, without a brash-sounding internal combustion engine the cars are known for, would be about as appealing as a "3-D printed soy donut," said one owner. That means to some purists, such a car might look like a Ferrari, but would not really be one.

But Tesla's high-performance P100D versions of is Model S and Model X cars deliver eye-popping performance and generate buzz among customers. Furthermore, in November, Tesla unveiled a second-generation Roadster the company said will go zero to 60 miles per hour in a record 1.9 seconds.

—CNBC's Silvia Berzoni contributed to this story.

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