LAMBORGHINI will decide whether to add a third model by the end of the year. The Italian super-luxury sports car maker, purchased by Audi in 1998, has returned to profitability and is about to open a vintage car restoration center. Lamborghini is not planning to enter car racing, but its V-12 L800 marine engine dominates the Class One Offshore World Championship - the Formula One of boat racing - winning its seventh world title in eight years in 2002. Automobili Lamborghini Chairman Werner Mischke discussed the company's future with Automotive News Europe's Luca Ciferri.
What is your target when the new Gallardo joins the Murcielago?
We want to keep the Murcielago stable at 400 units a year and progressively grow the Gallardo from 600 units planned this year to 1,600 by 2005.
What is the installed capacity for the Gallardo?
We are conservatively planning six units a day, but in the medium term I think we can easily make eight a day. With modest investments we can go to 10 units a day.
Some say the all-aluminum, lighter and more compact Gallardo could offer performance that would overshadow the bigger Murcielago ...
We think they are two very different products. The Murcielago is the icon; the Gallardo is the affordable extreme sports car. At the demanding Imola racetrack, the Murcielago is over a second quicker [per lap] than the Gallardo.
Both are coupes only, but at the Detroit auto show Lamborghini unveiled a concept Murcielago roadster. Will you build it?
In mid-2004 we will add the Murcielago roadster - by late 2005 or early 2006, the Gallardo ragtop.
Will you offer an extreme version?
Of course. We will have GT versions of both the Murcielago and Gallardo, most likely maintaining their excellent 4WD system. (Note: the Diablo GT was rear-drive only.)
When will Lamborghini have a proper third platform?
We are thinking about it, but we do not have concrete ideas yet.
When will you decide?
Late this year.
Would it be cheaper than the Gallardo?
How much is a Gallardo?
It is 120,000 plus local taxes in all left-hand-drive European markets. It is the first time Lamborghini has had a single pan-European price.
How much did Lamborghini earn last year?
It is a not significant figure. We prefer to say we returned to the black a year ahead of plan. High profits are not Lamborghini's main priority. We still have to heavily invest to broaden our lineup and, eventually, add the third product. Besides selling cars and spare parts, there are two ways to create additional revenue: merchandising and restoring vintage cars. We plan to grow in both sectors. On the merchandising side, run by our Lamborghini Artimarca subsidiary, we first built the logistics chain and are about to sell our products to a broader audience than at dealerships and the shop within our factory. We will begin from the Internet. Our restoration center will have its own facility completed late this year and could boost activity to 20 to 30 cars a year. In 2002, we restored almost 10 cars, generating over 350,000.
How many dealers do you have?
They are currently 45. We will quadruple our volume from 424 units sold in 2002 to over 1,600 units in 2004. We will broaden our presence in the USA, our biggest market with 35 percent of sales, adding two or three dealers within two years. We also want to enter new markets, first China and later Russia.