Ferrari, Lamborghini Rev Exclusive Engines at Geneva

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At the Geneva Auto Show last week, global auto executives tacked warily between handwringing about the awful car market in Europe and cajoling praise for their latest upscale models.

At least Lamborghini and Ferrari don’t have to worry about displaying any pretense of concern about the mainstream auto business in Europe. Instead, as the Geneva show opened to the public, the two brands were battling in their very rarefied niche for the attention only of the very, very rich.

To that end, Lamborghini has rolled out an “extremely exclusive” Veneno two-seater automobile whose speeds exceed 350 km/h and whose pre-tax price of 3 million Euros ($3.9 million) exceeds the pocketbook of just about everyone on the planet. That’s why the Volkswagen Group-owned brand plans to build only three Venenos—and all are pre-sold. [more]

“This is one of the most extreme cars we’ve done to date,” Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann told Reuters about the Veneno, which features scissors-style doors, a massive rear wing, roof-mounted air scoop and “shark fin” stabilizer.

Not to be completely outdone, Ferrari has countered with its own latest supercar, the LaFerrari, which may be as fast as the Veneno but will only set you back about 1 million euros. It is a 963-horsepower “hyper-hybrid” that relies on a gasoline engine and an electric motor to reduce fuel consumption, while the Veneno blows right past all the green stuff with its own 740-horsepower engine that is conventionally powered.

Green hasn’t faded completely at the Geneva show. About 10 percent of all the cars being exhibited at the 83rd International Motor Show in Geneva, organizers told the New York Times, are “eco-friendly.” They include all-electric, plug-in hybrids, conventional hybrids and some very fuel-efficient conventional vehicles, although most of them are concept cars such as the all-electric BMW i3 and hybrid BMW i8.

And Felix Baumgartner — the guy who parachuted out of the weather balloon from space in a Red Bull promotion last year — was seen on Monday test-driving the soon-to-be-produced Volkswagen XL1, which is designed to sip diesel fuel in unprecedentedly small amounts.

Still, it’s likely that to most of the buyers of the limited run of just 499 LaFerraris—with its hybrid powertrain—green will be just another one of those colors that gets blurred as they’re streaking down the highway.

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