SANT'AGATA BOLOGNESE, Italy -- There's a reason why Lamborghini took almost six years to take the Urus SUV from concept to reality.
"With the Urus, Lamborghini is not only entering a segment that is completely new to our brand, we are also doubling the output of our company," CEO Stefano Domenicali told Automotive News Europe. "Each decision needed to be properly pondered."
The wait is over. Lamborghini unveiled the production Urus on Monday and will begin sales next spring. The 650-hp, 200,000-plus euro ($237,000) Urus is poised to enter at the top of the ultraluxury SUV segment, which already includes the 608-hp, 182,000 euro Bentley Bentayga and the 629-hp, 282,000 euro Mercedes-Benz G 65 AMG.
Aston Martin, Ferrari and Rolls-Royce plan to join the fast-growing sector in the coming years. Despite the rising number of competitors in the niche, Lamborghini is confident its product, which can top 186 mph, will stand out.
“After having driven the Urus, I have no doubts it will be a great success because there is nothing on the market combining this level of performance with a truly luxurious interior,” said Domenicali, a former Ferrari Formula One team boss who joined Lamborghini as CEO in March 2016 after a short stint at the Ingolstadt, Germany, headquarters of the supercar maker’s parent, Audi, which is part of the Volkswagen AG.
The Urus’s arrival puts an unprecedented level of pressure on Lamborghini, which plans to build about 1,000 units of the SUV next year then increase the volume to 3,500 annually starting in 2019, with the option to grow up to 4,000 units if demand is higher, Domenicali said. That level of output for one model would exceed Lamborghini’s best-ever production year for the entire brand.
Last year, Lamborghini sold a record 3,457 vehicles worldwide, up from 3,245 the year before. The U.S. was its biggest market with 1,041 supercars sold, ahead of Japan with 359 and the UK with 326, according to company data. With just two models in the lineup, the Huracan and Aventador, this year’s sales are on track to be marginally higher than in 2016, Domenicali said.
For the Urus, Lamborghini has added its first paint shop in its 54-year history. The company previously relied on external suppliers for the work.
“Painting in-house will be crucial for Ad Personam (the company’s personalization program) and the special editions we are planning over the Urus’s life cycle,” said Domenicali, who declined to reveal how much the company invested to launch the Urus and to double the size of its facility in Sant’Agata, Italy, to 525,000 square feet from 262,000 square feet.
Lamborghini is also adding 700 people to its 1,050-person workforce. Half of those new employees will work in the paint shop or on final assembly. To complete the Urus, Lamborghini will rely heavily on contributions from VW, which provides the SUV’s steel chassis, aluminum body and twin-turbo, 4.0-liter V-8 engine.
Lamborghini’s top engineer says his bosses had very high expectations from the start of the Urus project. “We were given a very challenging target: Make the production Urus the best-performing vehicle in its category with the best weight-to-power ratio,” R&D Director Maurizio Reggiani told Automotive News Europe. “We accomplished this.”