Lamborghini has finally confirmed plans to launch on the market an SUV. Lamborghini first previewed the vehicle in 2012 with the Urus concept but concerns over the health of the global economy as well as labor relations and potential incentives from the Italian government kept delaying the green light from being given.
At a press conference in Rome today, Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann finally confirmed that the automaker will in fact go ahead with the SUV. Sales are scheduled to start sometime in 2018.
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Though not mentioned by the automaker, it’s believed that the Italian government has awarded Lamborghini upwards of 80 million euros (approximately $87 million) in tax breaks and other incentives. In return, Lamborghini will hire around 500 new employees and invest significantly in expanding its facilities.
Lamborghini has confirmed that production will take place at its home in Sant’Agata Bolognese, which will need to be expanded for this third model line, increasing from the current 80,000 square meters to an area covering approximately 150,000 square meters. The project will include the construction of new facilities, such as a new production line, warehousing and enlargement of the R&D department. The addition of a third model line will also provide important opportunities for the supplier network.
It's possible that the basic body for the SUV will be built at the same plant in Slovakia where bodies for other Volkswagen Group SUVs are sourced, as Lamborghini’s new model will share the high-riding version of the MLB Evo platform, currently found in the latest Audi Q7 and destined to underpin Bentley’s Bentayga as well as next-generation versions of the Porsche Cayenne and VW Touareg.
To extract the performance one would expect of a Lamborghini from this platform, engineers are expected to use lighter carbon fiber in place of some of the steel and aluminum sections. Key rivals would include Aston Martin’s planned SUV based on the DBX concept as well as high-end versions of the Maserati Levante and Porsche Cayenne.
The new SUV is likely to be the most affordable model in the Lamborghini lineup, and likely the most popular too. It’s expected to more than double Lamborghini’s sales from the record 2,530 vehicles the brand sold last year, with the automaker predicting that as many as 3,000 examples could be sold per year. Key markets will be the U.S., the Middle East and China.
Note, this won’t be the first SUV in Lamborghini’s 50-year history. That honor goes to the LM002, a rough-and-tumble SUV built in an attempt to secure a military contract in the mid-1980s. Lamborghini didn't get the contract, but went ahead and built a small production run of the 'Rambo Lambo.'
“This is a proud moment for everybody in Lamborghini,” Winkelmann said at today’s press conference. “The introduction of a third model line endorses the stable and sustainable growth of the company and signifies for us the beginning of a new era.”