Lamborghini CEO Stefano Domenicali explains why 2017 will be a game-changer for the brand

STEFANO DOMENICALI
Lamborghini
Lamborghini is about to become bigger than it’s ever been since it was founded in 1963 – much bigger. The expansion will be driven by the addition of a luxurious, high-performance SUV previewed by the Urus concept at the 2012 edition of the Beijing Auto Show. Officials predict the brand will be able to sell 3,500 examples of the off-roader annually.

Annual sales of the Huracán and the Aventador will be capped at approximately 3,500 units combined to maintain exclusivity, meaning the Raging Bull’s annual output will balloon to about 7,000 cars. The company is expanding its only factory in Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy, produce the extra units.

We sat down with company CEO Stefano Domenicali to get more insight on the upcoming SUV, and what it means for a brand known globally for building super sports cars.

Digital Trends: Let’s start with a basic question: it going to be called Urus?

Stefano Domenicali: I would say that in regard to the SUV, you will learn a lot of things in the next couple of weeks. The name is for sure Urus. Production will start in April, though the plant will initially build pre-series models. As you know, this is an entirely new process so the first few cars will be prototypes. It’s a very delicate period, which is why 2017 will be a very important year or us. Don’t underestimate the big step we’re taking.

Everything has to be perfect when the Urus lands on the market. It will be a new market, and new customers.

It’s easy just to remember the number 7,000, but we need to prepare the after-sales network and the dealers; they need to know the car. The first cars will also be used to train people. It’s a matrix of complexity that, for our dimension, is a big, big step. I believe that we have all the potential to do a fantastic job, but it’s also my duty and responsibility to keep everyone very focused. Everything has to be perfect when the car lands on the market. It will be a new market, and new customers.

DT: Lamborghini hasn’t manifested a strong interest in semi-autonomous technology – and after driving the Aventador S on a Formula 1 track I can certainly see why. Will that change with the Urus?

SD: I think so. And this type of technology can also be used for our super sports cars. The technology required for semi-autonomous driving can make you a better driver. For example, displaying a reference line on the digital instrument cluster or on the heads-up display could make you faster on the track.

But going back to the SUV, a lot of features are considered commodities today. We need to be open to that. We know that our future SUV is a model you can use every day in normal driving conditions, but it will have Lamborghini DNA so you’ll be able to push it. All of the technology, driving aids, and tech features that users have gotten accustomed to have to be part of our car.

DT: Will the Urus be able to go off-road?

SD: Yes, it will have a specific setup for ice, snow, stones, and sand. It’s similar to the Ego approach [in the Aventador S]. You will discover this soon. Maybe I’m saying too much. Anyway, that’s part of the personalization aspect of this car.

DT: How do you see the future of hybrids?

SD: I think for sure hybrids will be a part of Lamborghini. We expect our first hybrid will be the second variant of the Urus to hit the market. It’s clear that hybridization will come through the SUV.

And then, going back to the super sports cars. I do believe that we have to fulfill two things. One is to push the V12 to its maximum over the next few years. It still has potential, and that’s the wish of our customers. We have the duty to push it for as long as possible.

Lamborghini Urus

Hybrid is something we need to consider, it’s a natural step. If you ask me when and how, I believe that in the next three or four years we won’t be ready with the right specifications. We have other ideas to keep our naturally-aspirated engine alive for the next few years, but we need to think.

I believe the right time for us to consider electrification is when – and only when – we can retain the same super sports car characteristics that we have today. Weight and center of gravity, for example. Today, I don’t see that possible in the next 10 years. However, the only way for us to prepare in case the technology is ready earlier than that is to be as flexible as possible in terms of life cycle, and to be modular. That means not having two models on two different chassis, with two different power units, and two different gearboxes. We need to become more efficient.

DT: Switching gears for a minute: Lamborghini was more involved in motorsports last year than ever before. Is this trend set to continue?

SD: Motorsports will always be a part of our company, and our involvement will remain the same in the next few years. We’re going to launch an update of the track-only Huracán soon.

If you ask me what else we can do, I would say we need to be open to other possible engagements. For sure, the first natural one would be to understand that there is a chance for us to be competitive in Le Mans’ GTE class. We haven’t made a decision, though.

We expect our first hybrid will be the second variant of the Urus to hit the market.

If I look even further, the real question is whether Lamborghini is going to become an official factory team. As you know, today we’re not. We’ve decided to basically stay as we are – a customer team – and provide a service.

And then, long-term, we need to be open and see how the sport evolves. I don’t want to confirm anything, but I don’t want to deny anything, either. I’m pretty sure that in the next five or six years there are going to be big changes. There will be a lot of discussions around the sustainability of motorsport, a lot of possible opportunities.

I think about two things. One, let’s see where we’ll be in five years, if we’re stable enough, if we’ve grown enough. Two, let’s see if motorsport [has become more affordable], because today it’s too expensive. If that changes, maybe we’ll see something different.

Cars

2020 Ford Explorer branches out with sporty ST, efficiency-focused hybrid models

The 2020 Ford Explorer gets two variants never before seen on Ford's stalwart family hauler. The ST focuses on performance, while the hybrid aims for decent gas mileage. Both models will debut at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show.
Photography

From 4K powerhouses to tiny action cams, here are the best video cameras

Although not as popular as they once were, dedicated video cameras still have their benefits. From travel vlogging to home movies to recording your kid's little league game, here are the best video cameras you can buy right now.
Cars

Bose introduces QuietComfort Road Noise Control tech for cars at CES 2019

If you find road noise annoying and tiresome at highway speeds, Bose introduced QuietComfort Road Noise Control (RNC) active sound managment technology at CES 2019 to help quiet your world when you travel in cars, trucks, and SUVs.
Cars

See the hotly anticipated 2020 Toyota Supra in motion before its unveiling

Toyota's plan to once again lure enthusiasts into showrooms involves bringing back the Supra, one of its most emblematic nameplates. Here's what we know so far about the upcoming coupe, which Toyota is developing jointly with BMW.
Cars

Hyundai’s Veloster N hot hatchback will prove its mettle on the track

The Hyundai Veloster N will go racing to prove the credibility of Hyundai's new N performance division. Unveiled at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, the Veloster N race car will compete in a class with other small cars.
Cars

Nissan IMs concept teases a future long-range, autonomous electric car

Debuting at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, the Nissan IMs is an electric car with a 380-mile range, autonomous-driving capability, and a backseat designed for being chauffeured. Too bad it's just a concept car.
Cars

The 2020 Lexus RC F goes on a diet to run faster and hit harder

The Lexus RC F has been one of the heavier cars in its competitive set since its introduction. The Japanese firm's engineers set out to shed weight as they gave the model a mid-cycle update.
Cars

Lexus LC convertible concept teases a new open-air flagship

Debuting at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, the Lexus LC convertible concept adds open-air motoring to the sleek LC's resume. But Lexus won't commit to a production version of the car just yet.
Cars

Fast and Furious fans get revved up: Toyota’s Supra sports car is back

The 2020 Toyota Supra made its long-awaited debut at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. The resurrected sports car, famous for a role in The Fast and the Furious, goes on sale in the U.S. this summer.
Cars

Muscle cars, trucks, and EVs roared into the subdued 2019 Detroit Auto Show

The 2019 Detroit Auto Show was the quietest edition of the event in recent memory, but that doesn't mean nothing significant happened inside the Cobo Center. Here are the new cars and concepts we saw at the show.
Cars

Big tech, bigger grille: BMW updates its 7 Series flagship for 2020

The BMW 7 Series will enter the 2020 model year with a host of updates inside, outside, and under the sheet metal. The new-look nose with a jumbo grille hides updated engines, while passengers benefit from smart tech features.
Emerging Tech

Ford’s sweaty robot bottom can simulate 10 years of seat use in mere days

Ford has developed 'Robutt,' a sweaty robot bottom that's designed to simulate the effects of having a pair of human buttocks sitting on its car seats for thousands of hours. Check it out.
Cars

In McLaren’s 600LT Spider, the engine is the only sound system you’ll need

The McLaren 600LT Spider is the inevitable convertible version of the 600LT coupe, itself a lighter, more powerful version of the McLaren 570S. The 600LT Spider boasts a 592-horsepower, twin-turbo V8, and a loud exhaust system to hear it…
Cars

Robomart’s self-driving grocery store is like Amazon Go on wheels

Robomart's driverless vehicle is like an Amazon Go store on wheels, with sensors tracking what you grab from the shelves. If you don't want to shop online or visit the grocery store yourself, Robomart will bring the store to you.