FERRARI – which once said it would never build a hybrid car – has unveiled the world’s fastest and most powerful.

And it has fitted a V12 engine for good measure.

The Italian supercar maker that used to mock the Toyota Prius, the world’s highest selling hybrid, has been forced to embrace the technology because of stringent emissions regulations in Europe.

Ferrari used to boast that its cars produce fewer emissions than the Prius because so few Ferraris are sold each year. There are more than 4 million Prius hybrids on the road compared to Ferrari’s annual production of about 7000 V8 and V12 sportscars.

But at least the “LaFerrari” will go like the wind. With a 0 to 100km/h time of “less than 3 seconds” it is almost as fast as a Formula One race car.
It has a top speed in excess of 350km/h, and can reach 300km/h from rest in less time than it takes a tiny Smart car to reach 100km/h.

It is powered by a conventional 6.2-litre V12 engine matched with a 120kW electric motor to create a combined output of 960 horsepower, or 715kW (more than a race-ready V8 Supercar). It is so fast that tyre maker Pirelli had to develop special tyres.

“The LaFerrari represents Ferrari’s most ambitious project yet, to push the boundaries of technology on a road car,” the company said.

As with its previous Ferrari supercars, only 499 will be built. Price is yet to be confirmed but it is expected to cost in excess of $1 million. None will be made in right-hand-drive so any rich Australians who import one can only use it on a private road.

Ignoring the European recession, the Ferrari was just one of three new “hypercars” unveiled at the Geneva motor show overnight.

British supercar maker McLaren also unveiled a hybrid supercar called the P1 combining a twin-turbo V8 with electric power, with an expected price tag in excess of $1 million.

Meanwhile Lamborghini unveiled a limited edition supercar called the Veneno, named after a famous Spanish fighting bull that killed the bull fighter. Powered by a non-hybrid V12, just three will be made, again with a $1 million-plus price tag.

Not everyone is launching head-on into a supercar program, however. Jaguar announced late last year that it had pulled the plug on its hybrid supercar called the CX-75.

A Jaguar spokesman told reporters at the time: “After a thorough re-assessment of near-term market conditions, the company’s view is that the global economic landscape does not currently support the introduction of a supercar such as the CX-75.”

Jaguar’s hybrid supercar had a 1.6-litre turbo engine matched with an electric motor said to propel it to 100km/h in 2.8 seconds.

LaFerrari Fast Facts


Price: $1 million-plus
Engine: 6.2-litre V12 and 120kW electric motor
Transmission: Seven-speed twin clutch
Power: 715kW and 900Nm
0 to 100km/h: Less than 3 seconds
0 to 300km/h: 15 seconds
Top speed: More than 350km/h
Production number: 499