Stephan Winkelmann on Automobili Lamborghini SpA heading
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Stephan Winkelmann on Automobili Lamborghini SpA - the STORY

it is now safe to say that Automobili Lamborghini SpA under the reign of Stephan Winkelmann has made an important turn around from the sometimes troubled times the company survived over the last four decades of existence ...

Automobili Lamborghini SpA was founded back in 1963 by the late Ferruccio Lamborghini, as legend says, to show another super car manufacturer Ferruccio could build a better GT, and he did, the 350GT was a very good car that is currently demanding high prices on the market, but naturally one of the most important classic Lamborghini's would have to be the legendary Miura, an amazing car, both in looks and performance. This was the first mid-engine road car back in the Sixties, and the car that put Lamborghini in a very fashionable position between the exotic car makers, and when the Seventies saw the intimidating Countach emit from Sant'Agata, Automobili Lamborghini SpA would reserve it's place in the automotive history books forever.

But things didn't always look as bright as the super cars leaving the factory gates at Sant'Agata, over the last 44 years or so the future for the factory looked very dark from time to time, on several occasions it seemed the gates would close permanently, but this charismatic car builder managed to survive all this time, and since the Audi AG takeover in the late Nineties things only shaped up for the better. A massive injection of funds revised the assembly lines with state of the art equipment, they built a new design department right on the grounds next to the original factory, a complete restoration facility is present that employs many of the people that probably built the classic Bulls they are now restoring and an official factory museum is continually expanding it's number of important automotive milestones in the history of the factory. Cars like the very first 350 GTV prototype and the last Countach ever made are on display, next to various prototype of old and recent Bulls.

When Audi AG took over it was obvious the by then aging Diablo would have to be succeeded as soon as possible, work was already on it's way for the next generation super car, but Audi started from scratch and had Luc Donckerwolcke design the Murciélago after he slightly modified the Diablo into the MY2000 VT 6.0 edition, which many consider one of the best Diablo made at Sant'Agata.

But late 2001 the totally new Murciélago was unveiled at Frankfurt, many would argue this was more an Audi than a Lamborghini, but it soon became obvious this was the Lamborghini for the 21st century, a brutal exotic with all the looks and power we were used to from a Raging Bull, an extreme car for extreme customers.

Only a few years after the first brand new model, Automobili Lamborghini SpA introduced their second model, a V10 powered 'entry level' model called the Gallardo, a car that would become the best selling Lamborghini ever, both models in their line-up would become available in Roadster (or Spyder) version, boosting sales even further.

Only little time ago a production of 250 Lamborghini's per year was deemed correct to keep the cars exclusive, and during the 70's and 80's this was sometimes the case, if you compare this with 2006, when over 2000 cars left the factory, you can only imagine how much better things are going at Sant'Agata these days.

The most important turn around happened when Stephan Winkelmann took over in 2004, he didn't decide overnight to accept the position of CEO of Automobili Lamborghini SpA, but took several weeks to deliberate over his decision. Mr Winkelmann's parents were German but he lived in Rome up to his 20th birthday and traveled around Europe on many occasions being among Fiat's upper management, hence he speaks charismatic Italian combined with German perfection, a blend that would steer Lamborghini right into making money for a change.

According to Mr Winkelmann Lamborghini is known throughout the world for it's extreme cars, and that what they should continue to built, and they are building them in ever growing numbers to keep up with the increasing worldwide demand. Together with this increase is production, the sales of spare parts is sky rocketing, add to this the impressive list of options available on new cars these days and you can imagine that profit is being maximized at Automobili Lamborghini SpA these days, especially with the addition of merchandising to increase the brand awareness even further.

For the 2005 production year, Automobili Lamborghini SpA managed a pretax profit of no less than 4 million Euro, while 2006 showed earnings up to 18.1 million Euro when over 2000 cars were sold all over the world.

But these figures became 50 percent larger during the first six months of 2007, a total of 1343 cars (a 48.9 percent increase from the 902 units built during the first six months of 2006) left the factory gates during the first halve of this year with a revenue figure of no less than 220 million Euro, note that the flagship V12 model almost doubled it's sales numbers every year up to 291 units during the first six months of 2007, while a total of 1052 V10's were built (up from 749 in the same period of 2006), most of them being the stunning Gallardo Spyder, but an unexpected number of Superleggeras were ordered too.

These numbers are being backed by a total of 110 dealers worldwide, a number that grew steadily from the 65 dealers working for Lamborghini only a few years ago, Mr Winkelmann is currently focusing on the new markets that are emerging on the super car scene, India, China, Brazil and Russia are only a few of the new markets for super sport scars, and he expects China will be among the top five markets in the near future.

But Stephan Winkelmann is also well regarded among the by now 941 (722 on 30.06.2006) people working at the factory, who mostly originated from the Sant'Agata region, they talk about a real 'family feeling' among them, Lamborghini is constantly investing to improve the factory and the facilities they offer for their workforce, you have to remember you're in Italy here, so lunch is very important for these people.

Stephan Winkelmann is denying any rumors of yet another model line-up at Sant'Agata, a three model range would not benefit the Lamborghini name any further, at this moment in time they are making money from building a very extreme V12 flagship and a smaller super sports car with a V10 engine and that is what Lamborghini should focus on for the future, there is no need for a V8 powered lower entry level model that could turn Lamborghini into a mass production factory.

With little over 2000 cars being built each year Lamborghini is sure to remain a rare sight on the open road, something that Mr Winkelmann would like to keep, demand is still outgrowing production with a waiting list of over 12 months ... the future does look bright for Automobili Lamborghini SpA at this moment, and you must admit that a Lamborghini will always 'make your day' when you encounter it.


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Stephan Winkelmann on Automobili Lamborghini SpA

July 30. 2007

Text © Mark Smeyers

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Stephan Winkelmann looking at the MurciƩlago LP640 which doubled sales year on year.
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