ML: Tell us about your background and career that led you to be a Team Manager of Ferrari Formula One and then Senior Director of International R&D and Product Development at Pirelli tyres.
DC: Well, let’s just say that ever since I was young my passion has been motor racing, specifically Formula One. I dreamt of becoming a driver but my family was against it and anyway, the amount of money needed to start this career path was not in our means. But I never gave up on turning my passion into a career.
I started off as a junior assistant at the Renault Cup – which in the Eighties was the most important European racing car championship – and soon after became the organiser in Italy. One day I decided that I wanted to do more and I wrote a letter to Enzo Ferrari himself, asking if he had a position for a young man with my experience. It was actually quite funny: first because I was a Lotus fan, and second because two months later I stared my new job as a Ferrari F 1 Team Manager!
Working with Enzo, and alongside the Team Principal Marco Piccinini, engineers Mauro Forghieri and Harvey Postlethwaite and with great drivers – Gilles Villeneuve, Didier Pironi, Rene Arnoux, Patrick Tambay, Michele Alboreto and Mario Andretti – was an incredible experience that to this day I remember with nostalgia and the same enthusiasm for what we accomplished: Two F1 World Constructors’ Championships and 7 GP victories. And the proof that with a new turbo era, Ferrari, with the Italian suppliers Agip, Brembo, Magneti Marelli, Tecnoelettra and others, was second to none.
After four years in Formula One, I again wanted to do more: Mr Ferrari understood and he asked me to become a Marketing Manager for Ferrari in North America, and I accepted.
Pirelli was the next step in my career. Ferrari at the time was a small family company and I wanted experience in a big one. And so it was.
ML: Can you talk about your groundbreaking technology in Electric Integrated Propulsion Systems?
DC: The technology is complex and patented, but I’ll try to summarise: we have a range of new generation radial and axial flux electric motors. We offer a propulsion system in which the energy, the motor itself, the transmission and the propeller are all one. It’s a plug and play system calculated on the characteristics of the hull. Therefore we can adjust the parameters together with the shipyards’ design team in order to maximise the performances or the autonomy, “on demand”.
The TM EIPS is for inboard superyachts tenders and sport and recreational powerboats and passenger boats. The TM POD is a new range of submerged high power motors either full electric or hybrid.
This technology will revolutionise the nautical world together with the diffusion of boats with foils. The “foilers” in fact have a very low resistance to advancement, they almost fly over the water, and therefore the need for large batteries is eliminated.
For sailboats the TM POD can be installed in the keel with the battery pack in the above hull. Together with the TM RANGE EXTENDER, that can be use for the TM EIPS as well, we can recharge the battery pack while in motion.
ML: Your company Terra Modena Mechatronic has been identified as one of the world’s most innovative sustainable technology companies. Tell us about its history.
DC: We will surely become a big player in sustainable mobility technology but for now I prefer to keep my feet planted on the ground and grow day by day. We have a clear market vision, great competences and competitive and exclusive products with the right price. We have all the basic ingredients for important growth in a very big and profitable emergent market segment: the demand for high performance, eco sustainable, zero emission powerboats is taking off nowadays.
In the European in-land waters, in the German, Austrian, Swiss and north countries’ lakes, rivers and fiords, it’s nearly impossible to use private boats with diesel engines. We are here to fulfil this demand that currently has no solution. In fact, there are many manufacturers of low-power electric units, but nobody in the high-power electric segment: we are the only one. We have a consistent advantage against any potential competitor. We will not be alone for long, but today we have the opportunity to maintain a long-lasting position of excellence in the high-end yachting market. We know how to maintain this gap.
At the Shanghai EXPO in 2010, I had a kind of fatal attraction when I visited the huge pavilion of the Chinese technologies for new carbon free mobility. I told myself that if a country of a 1.4 billion people was investing large amounts of resources in new mobility, while in Europe we were doing almost nothing, there had to be a reason . Consequently I decided to invest two years of my life to learn about this area. I visited suppliers, research labs and universities in Asia, and in the US, Silicon Valley, Ohio State University and Glemson-Cuicar in South Carolina.
In 2015, I founded Terra Modena Mechatronic and the funny thing is that most of my engineers and suppliers, apart from the Lithium cells, are just a “bike ride” away from Modena.
ML: What is the future for Terra Modena and why is Monaco a good match for your technology?
DC: Our future is in our hands! Monaco is important for two reason: it’s the capital of yachting and more than that, Prince Albert II is the most credible and prestigious head of state who has made environmental sustainability an absolute priority. His enlightened vision sees the Principality together with the Government of the most populous country in the world. The right combination to respond to those who deny the dramatic problem of sustainability.
ML: You recently presented at CleanEquity Monaco conference. How important is this conference and how was your experience?
DC: I didn’t know about CleanEquity Monaco but a friend told me that it would worth it for me to participate. I can never thank him enough, as I met high tech companies with whom I will work in the very near future, but more than that, I have been enriched by debates on science and new technologies to ensure the survival of the planet.
The level of world experts and researchers was very high, as was the level of companies that develop technologies to help solve dramatic problems. Unfortunately, nothing can be done if governments do not approve economic support measures for the development of these technologies that are already available.
ML: Have cars and motors always been your passion?
DC: I am and have always been interested in technology and motor racing – Formula 1, Le Mans and now Formula E – although my curiosity for road cars, even though I’m a former Ferrari manager, has been at a minimum. But within the next decade, the new electric, hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell technologies will become a standard for all of us. And this evolution I follow every day.
See www.terramodena.eu for more information. Article first published April 2, 2018.