LOS ANGELES -- Automobili Lamborghini is on a roll.
Its global sales could break 2,000 units for the first time this year, up from just 297 in 2001. It has increased its worldwide dealership count from 67 dealers to 88, with 95 stores slated to be open by year end.
For the first six months of 2006, the Italian supercar maker already has exceeded the $5.2 million operating profit for all of 2005, said Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann at a press event here.
For an automaker that was a comic opera for so many previous owners, Lamborghini appears to be making things work for Audi, which bought the automaker in 1998.
Winkelmann foresees further volume growth, not so much in America but in other world markets where Lamborghini has been introduced recently. They include the Middle East, Russia, China and eastern Europe. Lamborghini opened its first dealership in India in July.
"I don't think brand dilution is something we need to worry about. It's more how we allocate sales," Winkelmann said. He was interviewed at the press launch of the $311,000 Murcielago LP640 -- named for the horsepower made by its 6.5-liter V-12 engine.
"Fifteen years ago, we were just in the U.S. and Europe," Winkelmann said.
"Now globalization helps, and there are no Eastern and Western blocs. There is space for us to improve."
There already is a yearlong waiting list for the LP640, as well as for the Gallardo Spyder.
The Gallardo coupe has a seven-month waiting time. Of course, the long waits are for custom-built machines. Dealers have available inventories of cars in popular combinations.
Lamborghini increased production speed at its plant in Sant'Agata Bolognese, near Bologna, by combining V-10 and V-12 engine assembly on the same line. The same cannot be said for the rest of the car because the Gallardo and Murcielago have separate final assembly lines.
Some magazines have predicted that Lamborghini would create other models from their existing platforms, using new sheet metal. Winkelmann denied those rumors as "computer animation."
He said there is no chance Lamborghini would use an outside coachbuilder to help meet volume targets.
Lamborghini also has no plans to move below the $175,000 Gallardo's entry price -- at least in the sports car segment. But Winkelmann did not rule out moving down-market in other segments, such as sedans.
You may e-mail Mark Rechtin at [email protected]