Lambo hopes to double sales if SUV is approved
Lamborghini's top engineer has a pretty good idea what he'll be doing for the next four to five years.
"We were given a very challenging target: Make the production Urus the best-performing and lightest vehicle in its category. This is forcing us to think outside the box," Maurizio Reggiani, Lamborghini's r&d director, told Automotive News Europe. "We envisage a start of production no sooner than early 2017."
Lamborghini unveiled the Urus concept at the Beijing auto show last month. The Audi-owned Volkswagen Group subsidiary expects to get approval to build the SUV before the end of the year.
Lamborghini expects the SUV to become its top-selling model with an annual volume of 3,000 because of strong demand in China, the United States, Europe, Russia and the Middle East. Last year Lamborghini had global sales of 1,600 units of its current models, the Gallardo and Aventador coupes and roadsters.
Sister brand Bentley and Italian rival Maserati also plan to enter the SUV niche. They all hope to match the success of Porsche, which now counts on its Cayenne SUV for more than half of its total global sales.
Said Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann: "We think the SUV segment is the right one. It has the biggest growth potential and the highest emotion. We are investing in profitability."
Maurizio Reggiani, Lamborghini: "We were given a very challenging target: Make the production Urus the best-performing and lightest vehicle in its category. This is forcing us to think outside the box."
The production Urus would use VW Group's new large SUV platform, called the PL73, which will underpin the next-generation Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne and VW Touareg. The same architecture would be the basis for the production version of Bentley's new SUV, which was previewed by the EXP 9 F concept unveiled at the Geneva auto show in March. Bentley is waiting for approval from VW Group to build its SUV.
Lamborghini's target weight for the production Urus is less than 4,400 pounds, which would make it about 440 pounds lighter than any of the models it would challenge if launched today.
"As the unibody structure of the PL73 is made of steel, we need to think of innovative solutions so we can meet the very challenging weight target we were given," Reggiani said.
An innovative element of the Urus concept is a T-shaped, forged-carbon composite structure that extends from the central tunnel to the rear suspension hinging points.
"This solution permits us to achieve high rigidity without adding weight," Reggiani said.
Other possible weight-saving measures include carbon fiber reinforced plastic for the seat shells and aluminum, possibly combined with magnesium, in the hood, tailgate and doors, he said.
V-8 most likely
Reggiani said that Lamborghini has not decided on an engine. But he said a twin-turbo, gasoline-direction-injection V-8 is a strong possibility.
"Such a car needs huge torque at low revolutions rather than high peak power, therefore a V-8 twin-turbo is an interesting possibility," Reggiani said.
Such an engine, which most likely would be an evolution of the 4.2-liter 450-hp unit Audi uses on its high-performance RS models, could reach the 600-hp output target set by Lamborghini.
In addition, a V-8 is shorter than a V-10, allowing the engine to be mounted behind the front axle to improve weight distribution without forcing an increase to the SUV's wheelbase and overall length, Reggiani said.
If it becomes a production car, the Urus will get Lamborghini's permanent four-wheel-drive system, possibly coupled with a dual-clutch transmission. The company says its plant in Sant' Agata Bolognese, Italy, may not be able to handle all production of the SUV, but final assembly and customization would take place there, Reggiani said.
The sales split of the Urus would be 45 percent in North America and South America, 30 percent in China and the Middle East and 25 percent in Europe and Russia, Winkelmann said.
Executives declined to discuss price.
Lamborghini's previous SUV, the 450-hp LM002, was built from 1986 to 1992. The brand sold slightly more than 300 units of the model -- actually a double cab pickup with an open rear lid. Twenty-five years ago it was the only rugged high-performance off-roader and was well regarded in the Middle East.
Mark Rechtin contributed to this report
You can reach Luca Ciferri at email@example.com.