Robb Interview: Dieter Knechtel, President Of Ferrari Middle East And Far East Asia

The Ferrari boss on the post-COVID road ahead, sustainable V12s and the all new Roma.

By Terry Christodoulou 24/09/2020

The Ferrari Roma is different to others in the revered Italian marque’s already alluring range. And that’s exactly what the Prancing Horse sees as its unique selling point.
Off the back of the new, subtle grand tourer’s Australian arrival, Robb Report sat with President of Ferrari Middle East and Far East Asia (and current Australia boss), Dieter Knechtel, to explore hopes for the new model and its future in a sustainable, pandemic-free landscape.

Robb Report: Let’s launch into things and explore the impressive new Roma – talk us through your hopes here and what is an almost tangible sense of belief regarding its importance to Ferrari. 

Dieter Knechtel: Well, it’s a very beautiful car – very easy on the eye, and despite the elegant design when it comes to its level of performance, it’s a Ferrari like every other. It’s more acceptable for a buyer that prefers understatement and discretion.

RR: And what does that Roma customer look like – fair to say it’s clearly aimed at a new audience, those previously attached elsewhere?

DK: Yes, I would say that is exactly the target, the challenge, the objective that we have. There are people who are loyal Ferrari customers who like everything we do – they are very into it and it’s good to see our existing fan base applaud what we’ve done with the Roma. Some might buy [it] as a second, third car. But we have seen that the car also attracts new people, and we wanted to do that.

RR: You’ve said in the past that the Australian market offers value “beyond volume,” what is that value and how important is it to the region?

DK: Beyond volume we consider value, and that is not unique to the Australian market.  The main responsibility we have is to protect the value of the cars we have for our clients. Also, we are a pretty small organisation and that also allows us to be personally connected to our clients in a very warm way. When I look at the loyal clients in the regions that I’m in charge of, these clients are well known in Maranello, and that enhances the feeling of belonging to a very unique family. It’s about stability over time, value over time and relationship over time.

RR: How does Ferrari plan to build on the established market network?

DK: Transparency, reliability, communication – all these values I believe are very important to prove to our partners that they can be successful. Then the long-term approach to partnerships is to extend the unique spirit and identity and exclusivity of Ferrari to our clients. Even in more complex times, our situation is very stable.

RR: A wealth of launches were planned the past few months – how has COVID disrupted the push of these products and how have you work around such?

DK: It depends on every situation in each market. In Australia, we managed the last large scale launch, the F8 Spider, before the Melbourne Grand Prix. Since then we’ve moved to digital and we’ve focused on organising, small, private viewings of the new models – like for the Roma – in multiple sessions. I think that is more fitting with what our brand wants to communicate as we’re here to spend time in a personal way.

RR: In an era driving towards far greater sustainability, how is Ferrari positioned to move forward? Is there a place for a naturally aspirated V12 engine in the next 5-10 years?

DK: I would say that when it comes to our increased approach towards sustainability you just have to look at our current line up and you’ll see that there is variety in the range. As far as our future’s concerned, we’ve mentioned many times that we like to be a little bit unpredictable in order to continue surprising our clients. I think what I can say here is that we’ll always be mindful of not compromising our core values – a balance between performance, innovation and heritage. A V12 naturally aspirated engine is often referred to as a heritage element of Ferrari. Having a V12 spider after 50-years is just another example of how important heritage is to us, so stay tuned.


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