Lamborghini sales have increased to pre-GFC levels following the launch of the company’s V12 flagship — the Aventador — and expansion into Chinese and Indian markets. The pace will no doubt lift again following the recent launch of the Huracan, a vehicle that already has 3000 orders in the bank.
CarAdvice last week sat down with Lamborghini president and CEO Stephan Winkelmann and its head of Asia-Pacific Andrea Baldi in Sepang, Malaysia to discuss the future of the Raging Bull, along with the company’s manufacturing plans for what might be one of its next major step – the radical Urus SUV.
While the Urus is yet to be formally approved by the Volkswagen Group, Lamborghini would like to see it enter production. If given the green light, Lamborghini is expected to have the model ready by 2017. Mr Winkelmann siad that Urus is likely to double Lamborghini sales, while still remaining exclusive.
“We are working on an SUV and this is one of the things which is paramount for the future of the brand and the company as well. It means doubling our sales and is a huge investment. We don’t have the green light yet from the Volkswagen Group. We think that this is a very credible car. It’s a good thing for Lamborghini to be in,” he said.
With a target of between 2500-3,000 sales, the logical question to ask was whether there is sufficient production capacity at the Sant’Agata Bolognese factory to produce a third model. Mr Winkelmann said that if he was given the option between a third model and producing vehicles outside of Italy, he would choose the third model.
“This is what we’re checking. When we have the decision, it’s easier for us to be consistent. If you put me in front of the choice, do you want the third model or not? I would opt for the third model.”
This significant step could see the Urus being the first Lamborghini built outside of Italy. Mr Winkelmann wouldn’t elaborate on where the production could occur, but the logical option would be Volkswagen Group’s Slovakia plant, which will produce the next generation Cayenne, Touareg and Q7 SUVs.
With some of Lamborghini’s competitors moving to turbocharging and electric drivetrains, we also asked Mr Winkelmann whether Lamborghini agreed with this philosophy and whether he thought Lamborghini would head down this path in the future.
“Heritage is important, history is part of our DNA. The fact we are in Sant’Agata, the fact that we have never moved from there shows how important roots are and it shows how important the technical solutions such as naturally aspirated engines are.”
“We have to understand that it is a constant development. If you look at the cars that were built in the 70’s around the time of the fuel crisis, we had cars which had 2.0-litre and 3.0-litre engines. We had to adapt. The challenge for us today and the engineers is to not throw out the window what you have done in the past.”
“If turbocharging is the only way not to disappear and to still be able to sell, that is something we have to do. For the time being we still have the choice between naturally aspirated and turbocharged engines and we still think naturally aspirated is a better solution.”
On the topic of turbocharging and electric drivetrains, Mr Winkelmann told CarAdvice that Lamborghini cars are built with the company’s DNA in mind and at this stage, they don’t require turbocharging or electric motors to achieve a performance and economy balance.
When quizzed about the relevance of the Asterion petrol/electric supercar, Mr Winkelmann told CarAdvice that it was a demonstration of what the company could do and that they were actively thinking about these things for future models.
“For sure today the turbocharger is better for CO2 emissions, but not in a quantity that we would say with our 2500 cars we will change the emissions of the world. So we are not affected, but the social responsibility is still there. It is really important. It’s important what the neighbour thinks about you driving a Lamborghini, so you have to have a go at everything. This is something which is really important.”
“We should not underestimate it. It is the enthusiasm of all of us, the cars, and then there is the reality, which catches you if you are not able to constantly adapt and to make decisions which are the right ones while looking back also. So this is getting a bit more difficult. So in five or six years from now, we have to have an answer on things, a lot of things.”
If the current crop of Lamborghini vehicles is anything to go by, engineering and technology is at the front of mind for Lamborghini. An Urus SUV could see sales double and allow Lamborghini to use buyer-savvy vehicles to fund fast and lighter heritage supercars.
– with Trent Nikolic