Supercar maker Lamborghini, a unit of Volkswagen AG (ORCMKT:VLKAY) expects to 2X its production to 7,000 vehicles a year by Y 2019 once it rolls out a new SUV, but it will not lose its focus on making exotic luxury Supercars, CEO Stefano Domenicali said Tuesday.
Mr. Domenicali said the company plans to cap yearly production of its Supercars at 3,500. He also expects SUV (sport-utility vehicle) production will be at least as high but could be higher depending on demand.
The new SUV will go on sale in Y 2018 starting at $200,000.
“We will push like Hell to” sell 3,500 or more of the SUVs, Mr. Domenicali said, adding interest in it is high in the United States and elsewhere. “It’s a big game-changer.”
Mr. Domenicali, named CEO in February, said Lamborghini plans to boost its worldwide dealer network to 160 from 132 currently.
About 30% of its dealers and sales are in the United States, its largest market.
Lamborghini sold a record 3,245 vehicles worldwide in Y 2015, including just over 1,000 in the United States. “We will not, clearly, give up on our DNA, which is to produce Supercars,” he said.
Lamborghini is adding 500 employees and doubling the size of its Sant’Agata Bolognese plant in Italy as part of an investment worth hundreds of millions of Euros announced in Y 2015.
Lamborghini is joining several luxury carmakers that have entered the profitable SUV market, including VW’s Porsche unit.
Mr. Domenicali, a former Ferrari (NYSE:RACE) and Audi executive, said he wants to keep brand volume limited. The company unveiled its Centenario Roadster at Pebble Beach, Monterey Auto Week, in California last weekend, and said the company had already sold the 20 limited edition roadsters it plans to build at about EUR 2-M each.
Lamborghini plans a plug-in hybrid electric version of the SUV by Y 2020, and could add a Zero-emission vehicle.
Domenicali said the SUV could be a platform for future autonomous vehicles, but such vehicles will not hurt the brand.
“If you buy a Lamborghini you want to drive … We are talking about emotions,” he said, adding that steering wheels won’t go away in Lamborghini’s: “In life, technology has to be part of the emotion.”
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