Lamborghini’s CEO Has His Sights Set on Electrification

Stephan Winkelmann Lamborghini

Elon Musk is frequently lauded for simultaneously leading two companies, Tesla and Space X. Another executive who pulled off the same feat got less attention. He’s Stephan Winkelmann, who, for a year, helmed both Bugatti and Lamborghini—and still has the second role.

Winkelmann was already president of Bugatti in December 2020 when he signed on—again—as the top executive at Lamborghini. He also held that role from 2005 to 2016.

On Dec. 2, Winkelmann was in Greenwich, Conn., for the launch of Lamborghini Greenwich, a new multi-story facility operated by RDS Automotive Group, which also has dealerships for the brand in Philadelphia and Newport Beach, Calif., and also sells Maserati, Porsche, and McLaren cars.“This is our 38th dealership in the U.S.,” Winkelmann tells Penta in the dealership’s conference room. “It’s a new location and new construction. Greenwich is a huge market for us, because it’s a prime place where wealthy individuals live.”

With an average household income of US$209,877, there’s a reason the Lamborghini Urus SUV, which has a starting price of US$218,009, is popular in Greenwich. In an indication of where car buying is going in wealthy communities like Greenwich, the town has the largest number of electric vehicle ( EV ) registrations in the state, followed by Stamford and then Westport (home base for the EV Club of Connecticut).

Lamborghini is moving quickly toward electrification. “We follow the dreams of our customers,” Winkelmann says. Currently Lamborghini offers as its main models the Huracan, Aventador, and Urus, as well as some limited-edition vehicles such as a Countach for the 21st century, called the LPI 800-4. The limited-to-63 Sián, unveiled in 2019, is a mild hybrid that uses a supercapacitor for added oomph during rapid acceleration. There are also 19 Sián roadsters.

“The whole range will be plug-in hybrid by late 2024,” Winkelmann says. “Our fourth model will be our first electric car.” No dates or specifications are available for the battery EV yet, and Winkelmann didn’t offer an all-electric range for the hybrids. “We don’t have to decide today,” he says. The EV will reportedly be a four-seat model, and it could use a wide variety of technology developed for Group members Porsche, Audi, or VW itself.

This is an enormous change for Lamborghini, which like Ferrari is famous for its V12 internal-combustion engines—going back to the company’s founding in 1963 by Ferruccio Lamborghini. The founder sold the company in 1974, and since then it’s been owned by various business conglomerates, and then Chrysler, followed in 1998 by Volkswagen (where it’s under Audi’s jurisdiction). The purchase price back then was around US$110 million. It’s since gained quite a bit of value.

Winkelmann is unsure how long internal-combustion cars will still be on the road, but Lamborghini is definitely phasing them out. The overall timetable for the auto fleet’s transition to batteries remains unclear. “There are hundreds of millions of internal-combustion cars now that will still be on the road in 2030,” he says. “What happens to them depends on legislation, and perhaps the development of cleaner synthetic fuels.” Lamborghini is aiming to reduce its carbon emissions 50 percent by 2025.

Lamborghini has enhanced its brand by opening lounges, so far in New York and Tokyo. Winkelmann said other locations soon could be London, Los Angeles, or Miami—which is fast becoming an auto center. But he said Lamborghini also has another venture—in Dubai. “We are building 40 six-bedroom villas, to be completed by 2026. They are homes, not skyscrapers or towers.”

The Dubai Hills Vista development with Emaar Properties, announced in November, is already sold out. It’s part of Emaar’s Dubai Hill’s Estate, 20 minutes from Dubai International Airport and the city’s downtown. A photo shows a two-story modern home with lots of glass, a pool, and a Lamborghini in the driveway. But there are four different types, each with Lamborghini-inspired furniture and interior design.

Federico Foschini, chief marketing and sales officer of Automobili Lamborghini, said in a statement, “Forty discerning real-estate investors have chosen a Dubai Hills Vista villa, privileged with sophisticated interiors inspired by the Automobili Lamborghini brand that bring its essence to everyday life.”

Despite the market challenges, Winkelmann thinks that 2021 will be a record sales year for the company, surpassing 2019. “We have had to increase production twice,” he says. “We are living in a crazy time.” The U.S. remains Lamborghini’s biggest market, and the Urus SUV is more than 50 percent of sales.

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