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Ferrari sees extended life for roaring combustion engines after EU deal

Ferrari CEO Benedetto Vigna unveils the company's new long term strategy, in Maranello

By Lisa Jucca and Giulio Piovaccari

MILAN (Reuters) -The head of Ferrari on Monday welcomed plans to exempt cars that run on e-fuels from the European Union's planned 2035 phase-out of new combustion engine vehicles as they will give the luxury carmaker "greater freedom" on its power systems.

The European Union and Germany have reached a deal allowing new cars powered by combustion engines (ICE) to be sold beyond the 2035 deadline, or 2036 for so-called small volume manufacturers like Ferrari, if they run on carbon-neutral e-fuels.

"The good news for us as a company (...) is that on top of electric cars, we'll also be able to go on with our internal combustion engines ones," CEO Benedetto Vigna told a Reuters Newsmaker event.

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"This decision is very interesting for us because it allows ICEs to go beyond 2036," he added.

Ferrari, which is renowned for its powerful petrol engines, is already producing plug-in hybrid cars and has promised its first full-electric vehicle for 2025.

However, Ferrari, which sold over 13,200 cars in 2022, has never provided a roadmap for going all electric.

Presenting its new business plan last year, Ferrari said fully-electric and hybrid models would make up 80% of those in its range by 2030, while 20% would still be powered by internal combustion engines.

"This does not change," Vigna said. "We don't want to tell clients which car to use. We want to make three kinds of propulsion available for them - hybrid, electric and ICE - and they will chose".

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Vigna reassured investors that the company's investment plans would not be affected by combustion engines getting an extended life, as Ferrari had already "embedded" this scenario in its business plan.

"The figure I gave (last year) - 4.4 billion euros ($4.7 billion) for capex in the 2022-2026 period - it's enough for us to go ahead with electrification and also with ICEs which are compatible with e-fuels," he said.

Vigna said Ferrari's upcoming electric model would be "a unique car" but would not be drawn on details, adding that "keeping secret is part of the recipe".

He added it was wrong to assume that specific forms of propulsion would match specific models in the future. Fuels are a mean to provide the performance expected from a Ferrari car, he said.

He said that the price of e-fuels, or synthetic fuels, was likely to come down as they are developed in coming years.

"They're a new technology, and like for all new technologies they have time to become cheaper," he said.

($1 = 0.9279 euros)

(Reporting by Lisa Jucca and Giulio Piovaccari; writing by Keith Weir; editing by Alvise Armellini, Jason Neely and Tomasz Janowski)