Exclusive: Inside Maranello

Exclusive: Inside Maranello

Reporter Adrian Hearn was lucky enough to receive an invite to go behind the scenes at one of the world's most famous sports car manufacturers.

Sixty-six years after the 125S made its debut, Ferrari continues to build the most desirable sports cars and boasts an annual turnover in excess of €2 billion.
And the firm's headquarters, in Maranello, northern Italy, is central to the phenomenal success which has seen profits and sales go through the roof in recent years.

Spread over 551,000 sq/m and dominating the small town of Maranello, the factory builds and restores some of the finest vehicles available.

Peruse the gallery below and take a tour around the famous production plant...

Ferrari Maranello Tour
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Exclusive: Inside Maranello

Each day almost 3,000 staff arrive at the plant in anonymous Fiats and Lancias before producing a selection of unmistakable 200mph-plus supercars.

The workforce, with 60 per cent in blue collar roles, travel around the enormous site - with its 165,000sq/ft of trees and plants - on Ferrari-branded red bicycles.

The factory pays serious attention to safety and there is not a single floor wire in sight.

Everything hangs from the gantries above in a spotlessly clean environment which would put some hospitals to shame.

As technicians work on each model, a clock counts down the time until the building process should be completed before the car moves onto its next stage of production.

It is a flawless environment which, last year, saw the firm deliver a record-breaking 7,318 cars around the world.

Each day at the factory, eight V12 and 24 V8 models will typically roll off the production line before being shipped to 61 countries around the world.

Fifteen years ago there were just three main markets in the USA, Italy and Germany. Its home country now makes up just five per cent of sales with orders from emerging markets exploding in recent times.

But this week Ferrari's charismatic chairman Luca di Montezemolo announced the firm would be scaling back production in an attempt to retain the brand's exclusivity.

However, the businessman said the company's profits will continue to accelerate as aggressively as one of its sports cars.

With profits already up 34 per cent this year, Montezemolo wants his 200-strong dealer network across the world to continue this upward spiral by working on quality rather than quantity.

In other words, he wants customers to spend more on the company's endless personalisation programmes, currently worth €200 million a year to the balance sheet.

Ferrari wants every model sold to be unique. So customers visiting Maranello can opt to give their car a radical interior overhaul through the firm's Tailor-Made programme, or by being more subtle at the Atelier.

The Tailor-Made scheme, launched in 2011 and used by the likes of golfer Ian Poulter and Fiat heir Lapo Elkann, can see clients have their car interiors trimmed in suit fabric or even denim.

While it sounds ostentatious, Ferrari's design and style experts are on guard to give the official nod of approval, hopefully preventing any overly vulgar cars leaving the factory.

Like everything else associated with the Prancing Horse, Tailor-Made comes at a price with customers expected to spend a minimum of €30 - €50,000 on their personal styling package.

Next to the Atelier department is the Classiche (pronounced Classica) area where technicians get to grips on extra special cars which are more than 20 years old.

Launched in 2006, Classiche is where the world's most valuable cars go to be restored, repaired and authenticated by technicians equipped with the car’s original drawings.

The programme is becoming more and more essential with classic Ferrari prices going up by 400 per cent over the past decade.

Only gold has increased in value by more during this period, but this has been in decline recently. Some Ferraris, however, only seem to appreciate. So when collectors are potentially paying up to £30 million for a Ferrari 250 GTO, they need to know that, like buying a Cezanne or Monet, their investment is absolutely original.

One car parked up in the immaculate workshop is Steve McQueen's old 275 GTB4 which was sacrilegiously converted from a coupe to convertible in the 1980s.

Its current owner has had the car shipped to Italy from Australia to have the car restored to the exact condition it was in when it left the factory in the 1960s.

It is easy for outsiders to bash the supercar maker for its 'gas guzzling' models, but this is one of the biggest misconceptions about Ferrari, a company which takes its environmental responsibility so seriously.

Over the past four years, energy usage at Maranello has gone up ten per cent as demand has increased. But during the same period carbon emissions have been slashed by 40 per cent.

Its cars are getting greener while getting faster and over the next five years Ferrari plans to spend €250 million of its research and development budget into lowering emissions on cars and in their production.

The working class man plays a vital role at Ferrari, making up 60 per cent of the workforce.

And they’re looked after by Ferrari and its boss, Luca di Montezemolo. He said: "Ferrari for me, after my family, is the most important thing in my life. What is important is that the company is a meritocracy where we reward the best. "In three years we have promoted 100 blue collar workers to white collar roles. My hope is that I will be replaced by a blue collar worker."

Ferrari now gives an annual bonus and a separate three-year bonus to its staff, with the firm investing €4 million each year in services for workers' families, books and health care.

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