It Had To Happen

It happened to Jaguar and Porsche and will happen to Alfa Romeo (they say) . Lamborghini have run out of very wealthy men to sell big engined sports cars to. 

2018 Lamborghine SUV: source
2018 Lamborghini SUV: source

According to Automotive News the target customers for their Urus CUV will be women and families. At the moment Lamborghini’s range consists of varying degrees of low and sporty with a largely academic choice of V10 and V12 engines. The plan is to show the softer side of Lamborghini and try to woo buyers who are thinking of their families. I expect this is code for finding customers who are women and who might want to

The Evolution of The Golf. Image vwcult.com
The Evolution of The Golf. Image vwcult.com

drive their kids to kindergarten and school in their Lamborghini. The ambition stems from the fact that certain demographics like a raised ride height: Land Rover and Porsche have done well selling cars to smaller people. The engine will be a less threatening V8 – relative to the aggressive V10s and V12s the brand presently offers. As it stands, women are not big customers for Lamborghini, about five percent only but more than half of SUV customers are women. When it comes to combined vehicle purchases, the majority are made by men.

I won’t be bemoaning this development as I have no particular axe to grind for or against Lamborghini. It is eminently sensible not to alienate a large chunk of your customer base. I think that customer perceptions are less hypersensitive compared to even ten years ago when the possibility of diesel engine Alfa Romeos and Jaguars shocked people unconscious and caused mouthfoaming rage.

Porsche can be held responsible for the onset of the slaughter of sacred cows and these days almost nothing is impossible, other than Citroen making a daring and interesting car again. The model now is to try to sell anything people will buy and not to assume that what sold well once will also characterize the brand in future.

The difficulty lies in the instance when everyone decides that formula x is the one that customers want. Right now we can see lots of brands going after the SUV and CUV market, abandoning saloons and giving up the large engine and 3-door cars. For some brands the format of the car is unimportant.

I think Opel, Fiat and Ford could sell anything they wanted without hurting their brands. These brands are not especially tied to any style or format: a new Ford bodystyle does not alter how one sees Ford. The specialist makers, on the other hand, draw their character from performance, luxury and distinction. The car-type most people seem to want is a five-door hatch: that’s what SUVs and CUVs really are. The ur-hatch looks like a Golf. The more a car is like the Golf the better it sells, Golf’s included. The corollary of this is that the less like a Lamborghini the Urus is the better it will sell.

The Lamborghini idea will have to stretch to accommodate being low-slung rockets and family-friendly five-door hatches with V8’s. Luckily, everyone likes them and, as I said, people don’t care too much about model ranges any more: cars are bought on a car by car basis.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

9 thoughts on “It Had To Happen”

  1. An interesting commentary. Lamborghini have fully tapped their existing customer base and must look further afield for sales growth. Historically the Chinese are not overwhelmed by the notion of the supercar, generally preferring something with rear seats, although that seems to be changing with time; McLaren reported record sales in the country last year, for example. As for the Urus, if the styling of the final product sticks close to the concept then Lamborghini will have one of the more striking offerings in the CUV market; better looking than the otherwise well regarded Maserati offering, and markedly different to Land Rover’s top end products. The Cayenne will no doubt continue to steam roller the opposition, but as time goes on Porsche are losing their lock on the hyper-tank market they created.

  2. “Cars are bought on a car by car basis” – that’s a very interesting thought in a time where most manufacturers design their cars on a one design per brand basis with very little difference between the models.

    1. Well actually it kind of makes sense now, seen from that angle. You can look at it vertically and see there is a base offering which looks roughly the same, just in different sizes. You want an Audi saloon? You have the A3, A4, A6 and A8. Just take your pick at the price you can afford, they all similar on the outside so you won’t be disappointed.

      But it doesn’t mean you can also look at it laterally if you’re after something else – hatchback, coupé, 4-door coupé, SUV or what have you – they’re all there too. Compare Audi, BMW and Merc-Benz’ respective offering and choose the badge you fancy the most at that point in time.

  3. Er, isn’t Lamborghini just another VW division? Doesn’t VW central make all the decisions?

  4. Bentley builds a suv, Skoda builds a suv, Lamborghini builds a suv. It wouldn’t surprise me if it’s the same suv, built in the same factory, cut to different sizes for each price range and demographic. That’s just the way it goes these days, selling the same thing to different people, and have it look different enough to be worth the different costs….

  5. I’m surprised no-one’s mentioned the Lamborghini LM002 yet. At least that one could be specified with a gun turret.

  6. I was at Lamborghini last week. The museum was recently renovated and I feel that in the process, they did a Soviet style ‘revision of history’. No word on previous company owners (almost) and a weird version of the LM002 history (more marketing less truth). Apart from the LM002 and Italdesign Cala, they had removed all cars from the 1975-2000 period. Rather childish behaviour. The Jalpa, Jarama etcetera may be terrible in the eyes of VW, but… maybe carry more Lamborghini DNA than a rebodied Audi Q7.

    1. That’s disappointing. Every time a customer sees a version of their car on a plinth they feel better about it. It sells cars in the end.
      Did you take photos?

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