BARCELONA -- Lamborghini CEO Stefano Domenicali is trying to instill a sense of urgency in the supercar maker that he says helped keep him sharp when he was head of Ferrari's Formula One team.
“When the flag falls you have to start racing. The same is true for car production. Delays are not accepted anymore,” he told the 2017 Automotive News Europe Congress here on Wednesday.
Lamborghini feels a similar time pressure as the Italian company races to double production capacity at its factory in Sant'Agata Bolognese ahead of the launch of its first SUV. The Urus, which will have a starting price of less than 200,000 euros ($223,000), needs to be ready for its first customers by mid-2018.
Domenicali, who has led Lamborghini since March 2016, expects to sell about 4,000 units of the SUV annually. That is a big leap from the 3,457 supercars that Lamborghini sold last year. With a goal of selling more than 7,000 cars by 2019, Lamborghini's volume would rise to nearly the same level as Italian rival Ferrari, which sold 8,014 supercars last year.
To meet its targets Lamborghini is doubling the size of its plant, which currently makes the Aventador and the Huracan supercars, to 525,000 square feet. The larger footprint was needed to add a new assembly hall, paint shop and logistics center. The Audi-owned subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group will also add 600 new employees within four years.
“It's a big job for us,” Domenicali said of a company that finished last year with 1,415 employees.
When asked about Lamborghini's future lineup Domenicali said he could envisage a four-seat sports car “in the 2025 to 2030 horizon; we are already thinking about it.” He also is open to creating a 21-century interpretation of the legendary Miura coupe, “but not in the next 5 years,” he stressed. Overall, Domenicali said, Lamborghini's goal is to reshape its brand image. “We used to be very polarizing. People loved us or hated us,” he said. “Now we are trying to be more cool, younger, but as always, different.”
Domenicali moved to Audi in November 2014 after 23 years with Ferrari. His final years with the company were spent running its F1 team.