Domenicali told Reuters the company plans to cap yearly
production of its supercars at 3,500. He also expects
sport-utility vehicle production will be at least as high but
could be higher depending on demand. The Italian automaker is
owned by Volkswagen Group <VOWG_p.DE> through its Audi unit.
The new SUV will go on sale in 2018 starting at around $200,000.
"We will push like hell to" sell 3,500 or more of the SUVs,
Domenicali said in an interview, adding interest in it is high
in the United States and elsewhere. "It's a big game-changer."
Domenicali, who was named CEO in February, said Lamborghini
plans to boost its worldwide dealer network to 160 from 132 now.
About 30 percent of its dealers and sales are in the United
States, its largest market. Lamborghini sold a record 3,245
vehicles worldwide in 2015, including just over 1,000 in the
United States. "We will not, clearly, give up on our DNA, which
is to produce super sportcars," he said.
Lamborghini is adding 500 employees and doubling the size of its
Sant'Agata Bolognese plant in Italy as part of an investment
worth hundreds of millions of euros announced in 2015.
Lamborghini is joining several luxury carmakers that have
entered the profitable SUV market, including VW's Porsche unit.
Domenicali, a former Ferrari <RACE.MI> and Audi executive, said
he wants to keep brand volume limited. The company unveiled its
Centenario Roadster in California, and said the company had
already sold the 20 roadsters it was building at a starting
price of 2 million euros before taxes.
Lamborghini plans a plug-in hybrid electric version of the SUV
by 2020, and could add a zero-emission vehicle.
Domenicali said the SUV could be a platform for future
autonomous vehicles, but such vehicles won't hurt the brand.
"If you buy a Lamborghini you want to drive ... We are talking
about emotions," he said, adding that steering wheels won't go
away in Lamborghinis: "In life, technology has to be part of the
(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and James Dalgleish)
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