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Lamborghini boss faces new challenge; customers' needs changing as brand sales grow

LUCA CIFERRI | Automotive News Europe
Posted Date: 5/3/05


Lamborghini has boosted unit sales fourfold and revenues threefold since 2002 largely because of the addition of the Gallardo in 2003.

But the success of the car has created problems for the Italian sports car builder, based here between Modena and Bologna.

“The number of our clients has risen dramatically, and their needs have changed drastically since the arrival of the Gallardo,” Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann, 40, said during his first interview since taking over the carmaker January 1.

Owners of Lamborghini’s other car, the Murcielago, drive it a few thousand kilometers a year as it is usually their third or fourth choice in the garage. The typical annual use of a Gallardo is 10,000km to 20,000km, “and some young professionals who use it as their primary car drive up to 40,000km a year,” Winkelmann said.

With a higher number of Lamborghinis on the road and many of them being driven more often, the company’s dealers need to add service technicians to handle regular maintenance and repairs. Winkelmann says the carmaker is addressing the problem by increasing its number of service area managers from six to nine. The mangers are the link between the dealerships and the service specialists at Lamborghini headquarters.

More dealers

Winkelmann said that Lamborg-hini will increase its global dealer network to 80 from 67 this year. One of the new showrooms will be in Russia. It is due to open this summer. Last month it opened its first dealership in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The company also plans to add up to five dealers in the US, taking the total to 25; two dealerships in Italy, increasing its network to five; and two sales outlets in Germany, raising the total to seven.

To expand Lamborghini’s sales network even further, Winkelmann said he wants to strengthen ties with fellow Volkswagen group brand Bentley.

The exotic brands are considering having joint dealerships in new markets and combining back-office tasks and sharing distribution responsibilities in established markets.

Audi, which also is part of the VW group, owns 100 percent of Automobili Lamborghini.

After losing E5.4 million in 2003, Lamborghini showed a E4.1 million operating profit on sales of E243 million last year. That was the carmaker’s first positive result since Audi bought it in 1998.

Winkelmann predicts that the 2005 financial result will be even better than last year, but he didn’t elaborate.

Audi has never disclosed how much it paid when it bought Lamborghini from a group of Indonesian and Malaysian investors. Audi will only say that it has invested E350 million since the acquisition in research & development and capital expenditure.

Production surge

Before Audi took over Lamborg-hini it was producing less than a unit a day. The pre-Audi volume was 209 units of the Diablo in 220 working days. Now daily production is 7.5 units a day.

Lamborghini plans to sell 1,600 cars this year, matching the 2004 total. Sales are expected to reach 2,000 units next year due to the addition of the Gallardo Spyder, which will retail for about E167,000.

The convertible debuts in September at the Frankfurt auto show.

Winkelmann said a third model remains on Lamborghini’s wish list, but the company has no immediate plans to extend its lineup.

Born in Berlin, but raised and educated in Rome, Winkelmann started his auto industry career with Mercedes-Benz. In 1994 he joined Fiat Auto, where he spent the past 11 years. Winkelmann’s last job with Fiat Auto was managing director for the German market.

Winkelmann replaced Werner Mischke, 55, a veteran Audi engineer who left the company for personal reasons, the company said in a statement.

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http://www.autoweek.com/news.cms?newsId=102294
 

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Interesting story. It's good to hear that they are servicing the brand. I must admit, i appreciate them adding service and dealer support rather than trying to up production and flood the market. They seem to have their priorities straight. Once the dealer network is up to the appropriate level, then they can add new models to the lineup. Maybe I should become a Lambo service mechanic. Looks like they are hiring. :)

-J
 

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At the Carlsbad/San Diego meet last Saturday, a Lambo salesman
affiliated with Symbolic indicated that Symbolic was opening a new
Lambo dealership in both Las Vegas and Silicon Valley (not sure exactly
where in Silicon Valley).

Several Symbolic salesmen that day also confirmed that the new dealership
for Seattle had been approved. I'm anxious for this to happen!

I would also encourage them to open service sites in locations
that may not qualify for a full sales dealership, perhaps through affiliation
with existing service sites. That way the market for previously owned
Lambos and new Lambos would have additional sustaining power.
 

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I can tell you for SURE!!!!! That as of this AM 5-4-05 the dealership for Seattle has NOT yet been decided. It has been decided that there WILL be one here......The decision shall be made by MAY 20th....this came STRAIGHT from the horse's mouth in Italy to my ears!!!!!!. I am still in the running for the dealership....keeping my fingures crossed. ;)

They wish the stor to be open within 8 weeks from their decision.an for sure no latter than the Seattle show in September!
 

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Wishing you luck!

The day you tell me that the dealership will open in Seattle, is the day I dump my 575M for a Murcie. Good luck Roy!!! I might even buy your blue one off of you ;-)
 
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