The automotive industry has been going through tough times lately. Most car brands are solving one problem after another, from the covid pandemic to the desperate shortage of microchips.
However, Lamborghini isn’t like most automakers – it’s an Italian supercar brand that produces very specific vehicles for very specific customers. And despite the obstacles that the current situation puts in the way of the entire industry, 2021 has been the best year in the history of the Italian automaker.
The company achieved the highest sales in history and managed to end the year with a significant profit. And it owes both to its chairman and CEO, Stephan Winkelmann.
From the look of his resume, it’s clear this man knows what it’s like to be at the forefront of a car brand. For the past five years he has managed Audi Sport GmbH and Bugatti and was previously CEO of the Austrian, Swiss and German divisions of Fiat Auto.
In an interview with Forbes, we spoke to him about how Lamborghini is doing well at a time when others are fading, but also how, in the face of increasingly strict CO2 restrictions, it is challenged to bring electric cars into the world of famous sports cars.
How is Lamborghini doing in these turbulent times for the automotive industry?
2021 has been a record year for us. We produced 8,405 cars, which is the most in history. We also posted record revenue of €1.95 billion, as well as pre-tax profit of €393 million. This year is simply very positive for us from a commercial point of view. After all, we sell more cars than we are capable of producing at all, we already have a one-year waiting period.
However, I must also say that we are appalled by the situation in Ukraine. We donated half a million euros to the UN to help refugees and suspended our activities in Russia.
Do you think you will celebrate again this year?
In the current situation, it is quite difficult to predict what will happen to us in 2022. So far, however, it looks like another very successful twelve months. We will introduce two new versions of the Huracan model this year and the Urus model will receive a facelift.
In the years 2023 and 2024, we plan to hybridize all our models. This should reduce CO2 emissions by at least 50% by 2025 compared to today. And in the second half of the decade, we plan to include an entirely new fourth model in our portfolio. So far it looks like the year 2028.
So the Aventador will become a plug-in hybrid next year?
Yes. In 2023, Aventador will have an all-new V12 engine with intake, which is very important for our customers, because it is our heritage, our heritage. But at the same time, it will be a hybrid.
How have Lamborghini customers changed over the past five years?
A new generation is coming to us, our customers are younger than ever. In general, we have more customers, especially thanks to the success of the Urus model. And the number of customers is also growing, although so far it is only ten percent among Urus buyers and five percent overall. However, it is also a trend in the right direction. And many of those who came to us for Urus are now also interested in our super sports cars.
The youngest customers come to us from Asia and the Pacific, followed by North America and a slightly older base in Europe. But they all have in common to be lovers of super sports cars and to see in Lamborghini the fulfillment of their dream.
Nevertheless, Lamborghini is not exactly the same brand as it was years ago. What do you think has changed the most?
The biggest event is undoubtedly the new Urus. Compared to the supercar industry, it’s a much more versatile car, and its launch proved crucial for Lamborghini. Thanks to him, we are much more stable and we can invest in the future with more serenity.
How is Lamborghini doing in a world where electric cars have more and more say?
We assume we don’t have to be the first, but we have to be prepared. And when the market is ready, then we have to be the best. But I would say that time is approaching very quickly and I’m starting to feel that customers are ready to join us on this adventurous journey.
That is why we observe the market carefully and monitor our competitors. And as I said, we will have 50% less CO2 emissions and we will be the first super sports car manufacturer to offer a full range of hybrid models.
What are the biggest challenges Lamborghini is currently facing?
It’s definitely a deluge of all possible rules and regulations. It is very difficult for a small builder like us without the experience of a large group to ensure that he meets all the conditions. Additionally, exemptions for small producers around the world continue to decline, and we can only succeed if we comply with all upcoming regulations. We are ready for it and in my opinion we don’t have to worry, but it is certainly the main challenge.
Every day you see cars on the hood of which stands an Italian bull, but can you tell us what other cars you have loved in your life?
I’ve always liked the Jaguar E-Type. I think it’s a great car, a classic prestigious GT. And then I have a special relationship with the first car I drove, which was my mother’s Fiat Cinquecento. There were no synchronos in the transmission, so it was necessary to add throttle when downshifting. But that was my first driving experience, and that’s why I loved Cinquecento and still love it today.