Those days may be winding down. Ferrari Chairman Sergio Marchionne wants to expand production, arguing a surge in emerging-market wealth justifies higher output. Mr. Marchionne has hinted that yearly production could go to 10,000 vehicles without denting Ferrari’s scarcity value, its cars’ $250,000 average sale price or the company’s bottom line. Ferrari last year sold 6,922 cars, which helped generate €2.3 billion ($2.80 billion) in revenue and €364 million in operating profit.
The risk is higher production collides with a sales slowdown. In China, for instance, a decade of explosive growth in luxury goods has petered out. The waiting time for a new Ferrari there has remained about a year, according to local dealers, despite a sharp rise in the number of millionaires. In the U.S., some dealers say they can sell a new Ferrari off the showroom floor.
Maintaining a scarcity premium is critical to Ferrari’s 90% owner Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, which is preparing an initial public offering of its iconic unit. The business has been valued by analysts at between €4 billion to €8 billion, a wide range that reflects a debate over whether it should be considered a luxury-goods company, as Mr. Marchionne believes, or a high-end car brand like Porsche, as most analysts say.
“If exclusivity becomes unreachable, it is no longer exclusivity,” said Mr. Marchionne, who is also chief executive of Fiat Chrysler. The auto maker is in the early days of a five-year product overhaul that is expected to cost $60 billion. “Let’s not fool ourselves here. We are in business to supply cars to people,” he said.
Ferrari has declined to comment on how many more cars it might produce.
The caps on production, which dates back decades, helps stoke sales of Ferrari-branded jackets, shirts and posters and tickets to the Ferrari World theme park in Abu Dhabi. It also plays an important role in keeping prices of used Ferraris high, a major selling point. Nine of the top 10 most expensive cars sold at auction in the past year were Ferraris, including a 1962 250 GTO that in August went for a record $38 million.
“Ferrari is the absolute blue chip in collectible cars,” said Adolfo Orsi Jr. , a historian of Italian motor sport who co-authors the Classic Car Auction Yearbook. “The brand and the exclusivity it comes with won’t come under threat if production is raised to 10,000 cars a year. But the key is not to overdo it.