Q: Before the COVID-19 pandemic, what was Lamborghini's outlook for 2020 in North America?
A: With the arrival of the [Urus], we changed the way of doing business. We changed the scale of the business worldwide and in the U.S. Last year was a record year. We closed at almost 2,400 cars in the States. That was plus 49 percent versus 2018.
Our forecast at the beginning of the year — our expectation — was to maintain this pace. With the SUV and the other two models, this is what we were seeing. The first two months gave us good insight that the performance was there. And now suddenly with COVID, with this new challenge, we are retuning.
What's the expectation for the rest of 2020 in the U.S.?
The first two months here were really good, almost 26 percent above last year. The market was there. The months since have been more difficult.
In the market now, you cannot do regular business. We have seen a reduction. We have clients still buying cars, but at a different pace. If you look at what the industry is today, basically, we are following the same trends. But our expectation, watching what is happening in Asia-Pacific, is that we will recover in the next few months.
The Urus went on sale in the U.S. in late 2018. Did it become your bestselling model right away?
When it was presented, we immediately gathered a lot of orders. Typically, you would expect something like that for an SUV. After six months, we ended up with a waiting list of more than one year. Then we started deliveries. And we still see a lot of traction on the product.
It's to the point that if you go look for used models, there are not many around. It's very appealing because it has a mixture of an SUV's performance with a super sports car's performance. It's a new model that can be used on a daily basis. It's not a two-seater, it's a four- to five-seater. That's an offer to families and larger groups. We're having a relationship with a client with different needs. And that's the success of this car. Today, it stands for 55 percent of our sales.
Is there still a waiting list?
We are likely short of product. If we don't restart providing cars to our dealers in the next month, they will be without because we had almost two months of production stopped. And before that, we had a lot of requests from dealers asking us for that product. It's a very hot model.
From a dealer's perspective, how has the Urus changed business?
We're selling almost twice the amount of vehicles that we used to sell before with the Huracan and Aventador. This is reflected at the dealer level. They saw their traffic almost double, and doubling sales is reflected in dealer profitability.
We're already seeing, after one year, cars coming back for service with a mileage that is even higher than what we were used to seeing with Huracan and Aventador. In this sense, the business case is really positive, and our dealers are happy.
Has the U.S. sales increase required Lamborghini to grow its operations here?
The growth in operations has been done at the same pace for us and the dealer network. We basically doubled our operations in terms of head count. We also have a new parts warehouse in the U.S. to stay closer to our clients and dealers, to serve them better in terms of delivery time and parts availability.
Last year, Lamborghini opened a dealership in Puerto Rico. Where else in North America do you want to be?
For most of the United States, we are almost at the level where we need to be.
Lamborghini introduced a certified pre-owned program in 2019. How has the rollout gone in the U.S.?
With the arrival of Urus, it's clear that we have an increase in the used-car business. The business model is changing because with an addition like Urus, you start to trade in more Lamborghinis. Maybe not immediately because we just started sales a year and a half ago, but we will see more Urus entering into the service shops and being traded in. Certified pre-owned is a key element in the strategy of any automotive brand. For us, you can even consider pre-owned a sort of entry level into the brand.
The factory in Italy reopened May 4. How far behind is Lamborghini on deliveries?
It's a bit early to say what the impact was. We're restarting and reviewing all the numbers right now. But I can tell you that we have a flexibility at the factory, and we can quickly react to any kind of demand. We are closely watching the market based on how it's moving, and we'll react accordingly.
From a marketing perspective, what impact does the cancellation of the annual Monterey Car Week in California this summer have on a brand like Lamborghini?
Pebble Beach is a very nice place as a location, full of energy around the auto industry, starting from the classic cars up to the most modern cars, with the Concours d'Elegance and the Quail motorsport gathering. It's an event where all of our customers are. We meet our friends. We're all there. With this cancellation, it's clear that we had to review our plans. We believe starting from now up to September, we will need to concentrate more on smaller gatherings, curated on a one-to-one approach, more than going somewhere and showing a product.