Ferrari California

Ferrari California

An all-new production line has opened today in Maranello, crowning 18 months of work and a 40 million investment. The ribbon-cutting ceremony comes just days after the Ferrari California's official unveiling, and coincides with the sale of the first California at auction.

The 20,000 square meter plant will feature two floors, the first for eight-cylinder cars, the second for 12-cylinder cars, reports Il Sole. Once fully operational the new facility will turn out 20 cars daily - a leisurely pace by volume-production standards, but requiring 2,700 full-time employees and a state-of-the-art facility to produce vehicles of Ferrari's standard.

A charity auction also saw the sale of the first Ferrari California to be sold to the public today. The winning bidder spent $520,000 to secure the car, the proceeds from which will go to the After School All Stars charity. The car was received formally by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The California is Ferrari's latest addition to the fold, broadening its lineup to four offerings - the F430 and its variants, the 612 Scaglietti and the 599 GTB Fiorano in addition to the California. The new car is targeted to bring in new customers that want a Ferrari that can be driven daily, or at least used for more frequent trips, including golf outings, road tours and grocery runs. It is billed as the most practical Ferrari ever, and though it is still expected to ring in close to $200,000 in the U.S. once its retail pricing settles down, it's also the most affordable.

Powered by an all-new direct-injected 460hp (343kW) 4.3L V8, the California is expected to be available for sale in early 2009. The car will be officially unveiled to the press and public at the Paris Motor Show on October 2.