MILAN (Reuters) – Ferrari has turned to technology industry leader Benedetto Vigna to navigate the luxury sports car maker known for its roaring, high-octane engines through a new era of silent, electric powertrains.
Vigna, a 52-year-old Italian national, currently runs the biggest division of chip maker STMicroelectronics (ST), where he has worked since 1995 and helped pioneer screen technology used in early Apple iPhones.
His appointment fills a six-month vacancy at the helm of the luxury carmaker after former Chief Executive Louis Camilleri retired nearly two and a half years into the job in December citing personal reasons.
Chairman John Elkann, the scion of Agnelli family which controls Ferrari through its investment firm Exor, said in a statement that the company was delighted to welcome a technology industry leader aboard.
“His deep understanding of the technologies driving much of the change in our industry, and his proven innovation, business-building and leadership skills, will further strengthen Ferrari and its unique story of passion and performance,” he said.
Ferrari, which already offers hybrid models, has promised to deliver its first electric car by 2025.
Pietro Solidro, an analyst at Bestinver said Vigna’s appointment should reduce market concerns about Ferrari’s future and its path towards its first electric vehicle.
“We believe that he will be able to further accelerate Ferrari’s ability to remain ahead of the curve in next-gen technologies compared to the automotive sector,” Solidoro said.
By 0845 GMT Ferrari shares were down 0.3% compared with a 0.1% drop in the Italian bourse blue-chip index.
Elkann has led the company on an interim basis since Camilleri stepped down.
In April, Elkann said Ferrari’s new CEO should have “all the right qualities, including importantly the technological capabilities”, playing down initial speculation that the new boss could have a background in luxury goods or retail.
Vigna is currently president of ST’s Analog, Micro-electromechanical Systems and Sensors group, its largest and most profitable operating business in 2020. He will leave on Aug. 31, the chipmaker said in a statement.
He will start at Ferrari the next day.
Despite recently pushing back its 2022 financial targets by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Ferrari booked a profit last year and has not delayed its roll-out plan for new models.
Vigna, however, faces several challenges on top of leading the automaker into an era of electric mobility.
He will have to revive Ferrari’s fortunes in Formula One after its worst racing season in 40 years in 2020.
He will also have to manage the company’s new brand extension strategy without undermining the exclusivity that has supported its premium pricing and profit.
(Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari; Editing by Valentina Za, Louise Heavens and David Clarke)