A CONVERSATION WITH LAMBORGHINI'S CEO
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Tue, Mar 27, 2007
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
Â© All photos by Harvey Schwartz
CONVERSATION WITH STEPHAN WINKELMANN
AND CEO, AUTOMOBIL LAMBORGHINI S.p.A
By Harvey Schwartz
PRESIDENT AND CEO, AUTOMOBIL LAMBORGHINI S.p.A By Harvey Schwartz
I recently had the privilege and honor to sit down with Stephan Winkelmann, president and chief executive officer of Automobil Lamborghini S.p.A., and talk about the fabled marquee. A youthful and trim 40 years of age, Stephan's elegantly appointed Italian suit is draped perfectly over his fit physique; he is the new face of Lamborghini. Stephan was raised in Rome by German parents, and is perfect for bridging the gap between forty-three year old luxury and ultra-high-performance Italian based Lamborghini, and its parent company, German based Volkswagen. Stephan easily transitions from English, to German, to Italian. Stephan had been the head of German marketing at Audi and was asked in 2005 to take over the helm at Lamborghini, which was a dream come true. He quickly packed his bags for Sant-Agata, in Bologna, Italy, home base for Automobil Lamborghini S.p.A. I sat down with Stephan to ask him a few questions about himself, the state of Lamborghini, and where he hopes to take the company in the future. I started the interview by asking him how it feels to be the President and CEO of such an illustrious marquee. "I'm very happy; Lamborghini is a true vertical manufacturing company with in-house design, fabrication, and marketing. We have full control of the entire process of manufacturing and selling our superb automobiles. We have less than 1,000 employees and each one has more than one assignment, and each must be very flexible. In 2006 we sold a record 2,087 cars, of which 876 headed to owners in America."
What does it mean for Lamborghini to be a trendsetter? "We are used to it. Lamborghini creates icons for the auto industry-the Miura, LM2, Countach, scissor doors, and mid-engine placement. People can always recognize a Lamborghini either from its stunning exotic looks, or the unique sounds emanating from their high-performing V-12 or V8 engines.
What are Lamborghini's future marketing plans and strategy? "Basically, there are two models, the Mercielago, and the smaller Galardo, both available as a coupe or spyder. We are planning some derivatives, maybe a two-wheel-drive, or models with less weight. We need to offer the luxury car consumer more than the competition offers. We have to make the most from what is available. We also must limit the production number since these are very expensive, luxury, high-performing automobiles. We have to build less than the demand to keep interest up and resale prices high. We must keep all Lamborghini's extreme and Italian, 100%. We are also thinking about co-branding with other companies that match Lamborghini's core values-the height of luxury and performance."
What do you think of the new Murcielago LP640? "It will be the best selling V-12 powered Lamborghini ever. There is no competition out there. The LP640 has a larger, 6.5 liter V-12 engine with a new, redesigned cylinder head, new intake, and a new engine management system that ups horsepower from the standard 580hp to 640hp. The LP stands for longitudinale posteriore (the engine's position). The new 2007 LP640 blasts to 60mph from a standstill in just 3.4 seconds. We also modified the 6-speed all-wheel-drive transmission, strengthened the differential, added new axle shafts, enlarged the disc brakes, engineered new shocks, springs, and anti-roll bar, fitted new front and rear bumpers, designed a new dual exhaust system that terminates in the rear bumper's lower diffuser, modified the body-side air-intakes, then shod it with new, larger 8.5X18in. front, and 13.5X18in. rear, 'Hermera' wheels. It is the ultimate Lamborghini."
Can you tell me a little of what's coming next from Lamborghini? "I can tell you that a new Lamborghini will be unveiled at the Geneva Auto Show next month. It will be called 'Super Leggera', a lighter, more powerful Galardo, with 10 more horsepower, and weighing 240 pounds less. It will be more expensive, exclusive, and 20 percent faster."
Â© Words and pictures by Harvey Schwartz