In conversation with Stefano Domenicali, president and CEO of Automobili Lamborghini
OVERDRIVE (OD): What's it like to be the chief at Automobili Lamborghini?
STEFANO DOMENICALI (SD): Well first of all it's a great honour and great privilege for me, because it is incredible to think when I was a boy, I can say to my children, that I was able to do what I wanted. It is a great responsibility. At the end of the day what makes it worth for me is what I feel inside because now being the head of Lamborghini I have to take care of it and to build it up and the steer the growth.
And we are in a great moment in the company. We are in a moment where the Aventador and the Huracan are doing very, very well. We are in a moment where sales have been achieved in a record time. But in that respect we want to keep to keep the market under control. We will never, with the actual portfolio, go over 3500 units in a year. Because we want to be considered as a luxury brand. And we need to make sure that there is wish to have a Lamborghini. A wish to be part of this club.
On the other hand we have a big challenge. In two years' time, the Urus will be in the market. We are getting ready for doubling the production capacity. What it means is that we need more preparation of the people as well as hiring more people. Now, in Sant' Agata we are working day and night to ensure the premises are ready for the assembly of the new Lamborghini. So, it's a great moment. It's exciting. As I've said, It's a big responsibility. I don't want to speak about myself. I want to speak about the team that is working with me. At the end of the day, whether it's a big company or a small company, it does not matter. We are small, but we are getting bigger and it makes a difference if the team is strong. Also, if the shareholders we have are strong and solid and we are able to share the vision. That's what matters.
OD: What is your focus for the company? Is there any change that you've brought. Is there any new processes or any new management that you've brought?
SD: Well, off-course continuous improvements is what a manager has to do, but this is something that is part of our internal discussion. And this is the secret of a good company. You need to work hard inside, to improve the quality, to improve the level of the people.
The dream, or at least my dream, would be to have people much better than me, at all levels. At least then, I can rest. But that's not the case because we are, as I said, in a moment where we need to grow. And all together we need to take the steps. So, this is what I feel and this is what we are doing.
OD: How big is Asia for Lamborghini right now and what do you foresee in the next five years?
SD: Asia is one-third of our market, because we are balanced in our growth. Off course, USA is very important as it is the biggest market. But Asia has a great potential. Asia is a big market, and Asia has a great passion for Lamborghini. So, even in the future we are going to enlarge our presence here. Above all with the SUV, for sure the product will be a fantastic and will be used in different markets in Asia.
OD: How does India fit into the Asia plan. Is the country meeting Lamborghini's expectations?
SD: Well, what I like is how people in Asia know Lamborghini. Off course, It's something you need to understand if you are coming here in Japan. And If I go tomorrow to Singapore and other countries in the short term, everyone is saying that people want to see Lamborghini growing. But we need to keep the values very clear.
We want to be seen as distinctive, and we want to keep the lineage of the car very particular. And we want to make sure that the DNA of the car will stay as it is now in a vision that also appeals to the young generation in the future.
And one of the things that I can say to all our fans in Asia, is that the love for Lamborghini evolves from the kids and teenagers. And it is so much more than before. This shows what we need to do. What are the challenges that we need to take on in the future, to make sure that all the guys that see this car and this brand as an aspirational one can be our customers in the future.I started our interview with the words responsibility and I'd finish with the same words. Being the head of Lamborghini, is a great responsibility, not only in the present but also in the future.
India is a great country. It's a place where Lamborghini is establishing itself now, and I'm very happy to see the numbers that we are selling now. But India in the future, will be a bigger market. Because as you may know, with a supersport car like the Aventador and Huracan it's more difficult to go into the country. The cars are quite low, and the issue is that we need to have a smoother surfaces. But in the future, and with the new SUV, that car will be a great success in the country. So, I'm really looking forward to see a tour organized in India with our cars. Because it would be the perfect moment in which we can celebrate a stronger presence of Lamborghini in India.
OD: Can you tell us a little about the Urus project? How's it progressing and are there any new updates?
SD: What I can say about the Urus is that we are in a crucial moment in the development of the car. We will have the car ready in 2018.
It may seem far but it's more like it's just tomorrow. So, this is the plan. We are going to do everything to make sure we stick to the dates we've announced.
OD: Over the past few years, whenever I've spoken to Mr. Regiani or Mr. Mikkelson, they've always told me lower weight is the target. And I guess carbon fibre has proved that it can be achieved. But are you also looking at things like active aerodynamics, maybe hybrids. Has your position on that changed?
SD: I have to say that in the automotive industry, one thing is to be current with your DNA and this is what we are doing. But, this does not mean that you have to looks around or look at how the technology is moving. The answer is, first of all we need to divide.
Urus is one part of the cake, a different story. And the supersport segment is a different part, as we've said. So, to be very specific, the weight has to be priority number One, when we talk about our cars, supersport or SUV.
But, on the SUV , you want to put a lot of stuff, commodities that are normal to have in this kind of car, which is going against the requirement that you have to reduce the weight. On the other side, when it comes to supersport cars, it's a must that weight is at the minimum. It's a target for all our engineers, day and night. But, once again, if you target the new technology, such as new technology with electrification which means more weight. So, in the short term I want to tell our friends in India that the V12 will stay, no doubt about it. With the Aventador.
But, we need to be ready to switch to new technology. As soon as this would be available, at the right cost and we are able to reach the target of performance that we need have in a supersport car. So, this will not happen in the short term but it will be a big mistake, for Lamborghini to not watch ahead.
OD: Almost every year we see an amazing car, like the Sesto Elemento, Veneno, the Centenario. How do these cars come about? Is it R&D coming up and saying, look, this is what we've made? What do you do?
SD: It is very simple. First of all it will always be in the future part of our strategy. The one-off will continue to be part of us and our strategy for sales. These are cars that mainly have the technology content with which we can develop/ incorporate into the other cars.
And the cars also show our level of attention to the world is always at the maximum. It's very clear in our group that this will also be used to keep our engineers always at the maximum tension, a positive tension towards the research. And this is also what we will do in the future.
OD: What are your thought on a hypercar competitor to the top three- Ferrari, Mclaren and Porsche. Will Lamborghini enter that space?
SD: I think hypercar or one-off car is a matter of definition. For us, to be in that segment, where there a limited number of cars to be sold, super price and super technology is a must. Because we are current with our brand, we are current with what our customers want to see us do. We respect our competitors. These are the words that I say to my colleagues and people. Never underestimate what the others are doing, because we can bring home the push to do better than them.
OD: You've been doing some amazing things in motorsports for the past years now. Super Trofeo is doing well. Are there thoughts of going further and participate in different categories? May be in endurance racing or Le Mans in LMP1 or LMP2?
SD: On that I can be very clear. Its a no to LMP1 and LMP2. Because we need to do a step by step approach in racing. So, we are growing. As you know we are not involved officially. We are providing cars to private teams. And that will be the case in the future in the short term. We will maintain the success of the Super Trofeo. It's amazing. When you the number of cars on the track, it's just amazing.
First lap of the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo Asia Series in Fuji
The only thing we are thinking, with no rush to decide however, is if we think it's the right condition, we can think of our presence in the Le Mans series with a GT3. But this is too early to say. We will see. There's no rush. But if the opportunity arises we will discuss and make a decision.
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