Lamborghinis CEO Speaks at 2010 Geneva Auto Show

Stephan Winkelmann: No news on the next Murcielago, but could I sell you a Gallardo Superleggera in the meantime?;

Stephan Winkelmann

President & CEO, Lamborghini Automobili

Automobile Magazine: What can you tell us about the next Murcielago?

Stephan Winkelmann: We don’t speak about the future, so I can’t tell you anything about what we’re going to do next; we speak always about what is happening right now, and this is the Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera, which is an astonishing car. We reduced emissions and consumption by over 20%. We have amazing acceleration from 0 to 62 mph in just 3.4 seconds, and the most important thing for this car is the power-to-weight ratio, because here we are best in class with 2.35 kilograms per horsepower, and we have 570 hp--really amazing.

AM: In developing the new Superleggera, was there any input from American owners and enthusiasts that specifically was considered?

SW: Yes. The sport seats. They wanted them different. In the old Superleggera we had to maintain the seats from the normal coupe due to U.S. homologation issues with the side air bags. But with this car we were able to offer the sport seats as standard in the U.S.-spec Superleggera.

AM: And the Gallardo Superleggera goes on sale in the U.S. when?

SW: In June or July.

AM: Will there be a limited number for the U.S.?

SW: No. We are not [considering this] as a limited edition.

AM: How long do you expect the Superleggera to be in your lineup?

SW: Well, it’s a new version. We have the coupe, we have the Spyder, and now we have the SL.

AM: The Gallardo range is now, what, six years old?

SW: We started in late 03, early 04.

AM: The Murcielago was announced in 2001 and launched in 2002. Given that you generally run on a 10-year product cycle, would we expect to hear more about the Murcielago later this year, or early next year, or when?

SW: [laughs] When it comes out.

AM: How is the Murcielago doing in the market right now?

SW: It’s still doing very well, because we have the SuperVeloce that we presented last year which is still available; it was a limited number of 350 units. A lot of people here at Geneva are very interested in it.

AM: With the introduction of the new Ferrari 458, what’s the reaction within Lamborghini?

SW: I think it’s a nice car, but it’s a car that is different from our Gallardo, so I don’t see a lot of overlap. It is different from our way of doing cars; our cars are more extreme. If you look at them from the outside, you immediately know what I am talking about

AM: Almost a year ago, you mentioned that, despite the economic meltdown, when the world is not looking to buy high-priced exotic cars, it is still Lamborghini’s responsibility to keep developing new products, because things will change, and when the economy does rebound, you have to be ready with the right new products. How are you feeling on this front at this point?

SW: We are continuing to invest heavily in our future products. We didn’t pull the plug, just to wait and then reinvest when the market returns; we would be late, we would be out of the market just when the market is [rebounding]. It is a pity that this [economy slowdown] is going so long; it is something that all of us are hoping will end sooner rather than later, but I don’t see signs of recovery in the U.S. or in Europe. Whereas, last year I saw signs of recovery in the Asia-Pacific region. China is a very important market for us and is getting more and more important.

AM: How many dealerships do you have there?

SW: We have six, and we will soon open three more.

AM: What about Russia? It has had problems, no?

SW: Russia had a lot of problems in the luxury market, but it was never a big market for us, so it was not a big issue for Lamborghini. The big issue for Lamborghini is the United States. It’s the strongest market, it was the strongest market; we lost a lot of cars [sales], and this is something you cannot balance within the other regions of the world.

AM: With Porsche now under the VW umbrella, will you be able to avail yourselves of any of their expertise? Have there been discussions, either officially or unofficially?

SW: Well, we have meetings with the brands all the time. We test cars together, we look at these issues, but the Volkswagen Group is very well established. So if there is anything that might be a need for help for us, or for anybody else [in the group], then this is going to be shared.

AM: Such as, perhaps, the Porsche 918 Spyder’s green technologies? Would those be high on your wish list?

SW: No. We have our own roadmap in terms of our CO2 strategy, and it says, we’re going to reduce emissions by 35% by 2015.

AM: Almost a year ago, you mentioned that, despite the economic meltdown, when the world is not looking to buy high-priced exotic cars, it is still Lamborghini’s responsibility to keep developing new products, because things will change, and when the economy does rebound, you have to be ready with the right new products. How are you feeling on this front at this point?

SW: Yes, it’s conventional powertrain [technology] on the one hand, but we are also looking into hybrid solutions, on the other hand, which we already announced last year. What we have to look into is, what is going to happen then? After 2015? Let’s just assume that 2020 is the magic year. We need to have milestones on our roadmap, because nobody knows what the customer is willing to accept, or what the customer is going to buy in the year 2020, but we need to be prepared. Because the cycles of, say, the engineering time….it has to be consistent with the DNA.

Our marketing guys have to tell us what the future is going to look like, and the engineers have to be ready to step in, if the world is heading [in a particular direction]. Because the marketing guys today are saying, “I don’t know what [people will want] in the year 2020,” and the engineering guys are saying they cannot do anything [unusual] because they don’t know [what people will want] and they don’t know how to do it. So, it’s a revolution that we’re going to see in the next few years.

AM: Are American customers expressing desire for greener exotics?

SW. No. No. But this is not the point. Today nobody is asking, but nobody knows what is going to happen tomorrow. The big issue is, we need to maintain the cars’ desirability, we need to stay as the bad boy. But it’s also not only what we want and what our customers think today; but it’s also about the social acceptance in the years to come.

It’s easy to do a low-emissions car, if you have the technology, but the question is, is it still a Lamborghini?

AM: Almost a year ago, you mentioned that, despite the economic meltdown, when the world is not looking to buy high-priced exotic cars, it is still Lamborghini’s responsibility to keep developing new products, because things will change, and when the economy does rebound, you have to be ready with the right new products. How are you feeling on this front at this point?

AM: Almost a year ago, you mentioned that, despite the economic meltdown, when the world is not looking to buy high-priced exotic cars, it is still Lamborghini’s responsibility to keep developing new products, because things will change, and when the economy does rebound, you have to be ready with the right new products. How are you feeling on this front at this point?

AM: Almost a year ago, you mentioned that, despite the economic meltdown, when the world is not looking to buy high-priced exotic cars, it is still Lamborghini’s responsibility to keep developing new products, because things will change, and when the economy does rebound, you have to be ready with the right new products. How are you feeling on this front at this point?

AM: Almost a year ago, you mentioned that, despite the economic meltdown, when the world is not looking to buy high-priced exotic cars, it is still Lamborghini’s responsibility to keep developing new products, because things will change, and when the economy does rebound, you have to be ready with the right new products. How are you feeling on this front at this point?

AM: Almost a year ago, you mentioned that, despite the economic meltdown, when the world is not looking to buy high-priced exotic cars, it is still Lamborghini’s responsibility to keep developing new products, because things will change, and when the economy does rebound, you have to be ready with the right new products. How are you feeling on this front at this point?

AM: Almost a year ago, you mentioned that, despite the economic meltdown, when the world is not looking to buy high-priced exotic cars, it is still Lamborghini’s responsibility to keep developing new products, because things will change, and when the economy does rebound, you have to be ready with the right new products. How are you feeling on this front at this point?

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