Ferrari Chairman Sergio Marchionne, who only two years ago said the idea of an electric Ferrari was “almost an obscene concept,” was out at this week's 2018 Detroit auto show boasting the Italian firm could beat all rivals to market with an electric supercar, including Tesla.

“If there is an electric supercar to be built, then Ferrari will be the first,” Marchionne told Bloomberg in Detroit. “People are amazed at what Tesla did with a supercar: I’m not trying to minimize what Elon did but I think it’s doable by all of us.”

Marchionne was referring to Tesla's second-generation Roadster, which was unveiled last November and promised for production in 2020. Tesla claims the car will sprint to 60 mph in 1.9 seconds and top out at 250 mph, meaning it would outmatch any Ferrari road car to date by a significant margin. In fact, Tesla's Model S P100D already accelerates quicker than any Ferrari.

2020 Tesla Roadster

2020 Tesla Roadster

Marchionne went on to say that Ferrari is compelled to launching an electric car because of the speed at which powertrain technology is changing. Ferrari will focus on hybrid technology in the coming years but transitioning to electric powertrains will be straightforward from there, he said.

Arch rival McLaren in December said it was testing an electric supercar but hadn't yet committed to production. We also learned this week that Porsche is leading the development of a platform for electric supercars at the Volkswagen Group.

Some firms have already gotten around to launching electric supercars, though the cars' production runs are tiny. A couple of examples include Rimac's Concept_One and Nio's EP9. What's odd is why it's taken Marchionne so long to come around. After all, he's had no qualms about adding a Ferrari SUV, which is probably less in keeping with the brand's ethos than an electric supercar.