Lamborghini boosted global deliveries 19 percent to 2,530 last year to set a sales record, and CEO Stephan Winkelmann is bullish about 2015, too.
Customers who have ordered the Aventador must wait seven months for delivery. Meanwhile, the Volkswagen Group supercar maker still needs to deliver more than 2,160 units of its newest model, the Huracan. Winkelmann, 50, discussed the brand's future with Automotive News Europe Managing Editor Douglas A. Bolduc.
Q: What is your outlook for the ultraluxury market this year?
A: If there are no major changes to the global economy, we see a stable market at about 30,000 cars, which is good for us because we are growing in terms of market share. The overall market has been growing since it dropped to about 20,000 during the financial crisis in 2008-2009.
And for Lamborghini?
It's too early to give any full-year sales expectations, but what I can tell you is that we entered 2015 with a solid order book. There is a seven-month waiting time for the Aventador. Last year, we received 3,300 orders for the Huracan and still have almost 2,200 to deliver, so those are good signs.
Does Lamborghini need to set a ceiling for its annual output?
We don't see a reason for this. Last year, more than 80 million cars were sold globally. Of that, we sold about 2,500. The most important thing is that you always sell less than demand. The brand's desirability must stay high, and you can never try to push cars into the market.
What did Lamborghini learn from the Asterion plug-in hybrid concept that it debuted last year?
The car has very fast acceleration and a high top speed, but adding all that weight [from the plug-in powertrain] clearly reduced the handling. It would never beat an Aventador or Huracan on the racetrack. So we decided this car would be better-suited for daily use, and if that's the case, we would want to offer more roominess inside.
Will the Asterion be built?
If we speak about a third model, our idea is very clear. It's the SUV. The Asterion is a technology demonstrator. If we were to pick a model to bring hybridization to the brand, it would be the SUV because it would be heavier than a super sports car and it would be a better choice in terms of overall packaging.
So if the Urus SUV is approved, it will have a plug-in powertrain?
That could be one of the engines.
How do carbon-dioxide emissions regulations affect Lamborghini?
There are two issues: complying with regulations and meeting the expectations of our customers. From a legislative standpoint, there are ways in most parts of the world for us to be included under the umbrella of the Volkswagen Group.
What is the answer?
For now, we think the best solution for Lamborghini is to keep improving our naturally aspirated engines. We already have reduced emissions by 30 percent between 2007 and 2014. If, however, we see opportunities to reduce emissions further with new technology and we can maintain our performance DNA, we will do as much as we can, but we have to make sure we prevent the price from skyrocketing.
Lamborghini has 130 dealers in 48 countries. Does that create challenges for a brand its size?
If you're small, it is a must to have a global presence, but this creates a big development hassle because you have to homologate the car everywhere. This leads to additional costs, but that is the trade-off if you want to sell more.
In which areas do you have independence from VW Group?
Every brand in the group has its own r&d, its own purchasing, its own production, its own sales, which are the most important functions. There is a huge amount of autonomy. It's clear that if we want to enter a new segment, like with the SUV, there must be a green light from the group. Other than that, we have to share the budget, but once our budget is approved, we have the highest degree of autonomy.
How does Lamborghini win customers from competitors?
It comes down to the product, the image of the brand and all the activities we do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to attract new customers. This includes things such as taking part in motorsports and holding events that showcase the values of the brand. Meanwhile, social media also plays a part by boosting awareness of the brand.
How many other cars does a typical Lamborghini owner have?
Usually two, and we are usually the third.
Do some customers only drive a Lamborghini?
We have some who only drive Lamborghinis, but I know that they have more than one car.