Interview: Lamborghini CEO Stefano Domenicali

Interview: Lamborghini CEO Stefano Domenicali
 

Lamborghini SA has joined the LSM Distributors’ stable, which is the local custodian of sports car and luxury brands such as Bentley and Porsche under the directorship of its CEO, Toby Venter.

The achievements of Venter include acquiring the Kyalami racetrack at an auction in 2014 and refurbishing it to a high international standard.

In a new chapter of his book of success, Venter plans to take the Italian brand to even greater heights under the LSM Distributors umbrella, after Lamborghini severed ties with Imperial, its former distributor in SA.

The operation has already opened a new Cape Town showroom, which displays the latest Lamborghini corporate identity and will be part of the Middle East Africa region with the Johannesburg and Umhlanga dealerships.

Ignition Live attended the dealership opening event in Cape Town and also got the chance to chat to the global CEO of Lamborghini, Stefano Domenicali, who jetted in for the occasion.

Passionate Boss:

The former Ferrari F1 team boss remains one of the most amiable and passionate company bosses I have come across. At our previous chat, at Imola in Italy in 2017, we asked Domenicali about the company’s plans for electrification and it was an area that he said was not on the cards at the time, but that it wasn’t something he discounted as a possibility in the future.

Of course, this was prior to the unveiling in December 2017 of the Urus super SUV, which will officially be the company’s first model to have an electrified derivative in future.

“Hybridisation is something that we are factoring into our Urus depending on market demand, so markets such as China and the US for instance will better embrace the technology as opposed to the Middle East,” Domenicali says.

There are no plans to phase out the V10 and V12 engines, he says, which power the Huracan and Aventador models respectively, both of which have recently reached a production milestone of 11 000 and 8 000 units respectively.

According to Domenicali, the Aventador will carry on as is, despite the model being seven years old now, which is certainly a longer life cycle than any of its nearest rivals.

“As evidenced by the production numbers, there is still a healthy appetite for the super sport model and we have no immediate plans for its replacement, but we are constantly looking into the future and demands of customers,” he says.

Quizzed about the possibility of a junior sports car to fit below the Huracan, Domenicali dismissed that, saying that the Huracan will remain the entry into the Lamborghini sports car portfolio, but that the keen pricing of the new Urus (R3.4m) will open up the brand to an even wider audience with first deliveries to customers touted for the fourth quarter of 2018.

For those like me who truly think that the beautiful 2008 Estoque four-door saloon concept that was unveiled at that year’s Paris motor show should be built, I am afraid the answer is still no on this front, which remains a great pity.

Talking motorsport, Domenicali says there are no plans for the brand to participate in F1 as the demands and budgets for the sport remain an issue. Instead, the company’s motorsport participation will continue with GT cars in the form of the GT3 and GTE racing disciplines.

He says he expects much success from the region, particularly with the advent of the new Urus, which should do well in an SUV-charged market such as SA.

Venter’s success:

If Venter’s success with Bentley and Porsche brands is anything to go by, I have little doubt that the addition of the Lamborghini brand will be equally successful.

Domenicali says the current model portfolio will continue and that the right steps need to be taken by the company for future growth, but there will be no new product market entrants before 2025. – Lerato Matebese