Q&A: Lamborghini sets target of 3,500 cars

Rome. Lamborghini boss Werner Mischke aims to quadruple the Italian brand's worldwide sales and to further extend the model range.

In 2002 your company sold only 424 vehicles. What are the plans for the future?

In 2003 we will be selling 1,000 vehicles, 600 of which will be our new sports car, the Gallardo. We hope that in 2004 we will be selling 1,200 units of the Gallardo and that we can maintain the sales figures for the Murcielago of approximately 400 units.

The Gallardo has got very strong competitors, the Porsche 911 Turbo and the Ferrari Modena. Why are you so sure that you will reach your sales targets?

The sales target of 1,200 is a very modest estimate. We already have received 600 orders for the Gallardo -- with deposits paid. And we offer a very attractive alternative to our competitors' cars: the best, to be precise. The design of the Gallardo speaks for itself. And none of the competitors has a V-10 engine, 500hp, permanent four-wheel drive and light aluminum bodywork. No one can compete with that.

At 139,200 euros, the car is more expensive than its competitors.

One has to be courageous with such a product. The price reflects that we are the best -- which is why it is higher.

In 2002 your turnover was 93 million euros and you made a profit of approximately 1 million euros. What is your target for 2003?

I will not give you a premature profit forecast. All I can say is that the turnover will be somewhere in the region between 150 million euros and 160 million euros.

During the past few years Audi has invested approximately 155 million euros in Lamborghini. When will Audi profit from this investment?

Audi will profit from 2003 due to the sales of the Gallardo. I believe that six years is a realistic period. The company's profits should enable us to recover the total investment by mid 2009.

At the beginning of 2003 Lamborghini announced that the maximum capacity is 2,000 units. Has anything changed?

Each month we identify new ways of how to further develop the brand. If we manage to sell 1,600 vehicles in 2004 we will definitely reach the 2,000 mark by 2005. My long-term target within the next 10 years is 3,500 sold units. We also have to consider if in future we will stick to producing just two model series. I have therefore initiated a strategic discussion within the corporation regarding "two plus X."

Does the X stand for a sports utility vehicle?

Recently everyone seems to assume that we will make a move in that direction, especially as Lamborghini once produced the off-roader LM 002, of which 301 units were manufactured. It could also be a different type of vehicle with an extreme and individual character. However, no decisions have been made. First we will develop derivatives of the two current model series.

Can you give us some details?

In summer 2004 we will launch the open-top version of our top model, the Murcielago Barchetta. The Gallardo Spider will go on the market by the end of 2005. With the Gallardo coupe we will have to work very hard in order to cope with the demand. The open-top version will make the series even more attractive.

What is the advantage of being part of VW's Audi group?

The advantage is very big. A total of 15 employees have moved from Audi to Lamborghini, four of which are executives. The new production lines have been adapted to our manufacturing volume by the Audi planning department. We cooperate very closely within the engineering division and have a close link to the Audi purchasing department, which is a great advantage for a small manufacturer such as Lamborghini.

Is Audi good for Lamborghini's image?

Definitely. Lamborghini has reached a much higher standard. Customer demands have also changed significantly.

Do you intend to strengthen Lamborghini's sporty image and to return to racing?

I am currently fighting for a return to racing. Everyone knows the Diablo GT. This history is of invaluable importance to us. Our top product Murcielago has to become the number one in racing again.

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