Thursday, May 26, 2011

Now Lamborghini to build 'family' car

Supercar maker Lamborghini is set to build its first four-seater model since the LM002 SUV of the 1980s.

The Italian marque currently sells only two models, the V10 Gallardo and V12 Aventador, but Lamborghini's boss Stephan Winkelmann said at a luxury-brand forum this week that the company was considering a more practical "everyday" car for its third model.

"We are going to have a third model; it has to be an everyday car," said Winkelmann at the recent Reuters Global Luxury and Fashion Summit in Paris. "We want to have a car which is able to be used on a daily basis."

Winkelmann hinted strongly last year that a "four-door car would be a very feasible approach" to expanding the brand's vehicle range. After he all but ruled out a new SUV last year, a production version of Lamborghini's 2008 sedan concept, called the Estoque, is more likely for the car that is not expected until 2015.

The Estoque is a front-mid-engined design with permanent all-wheel drive and a 3.0-metre wheelbase that's marginally longer than that of Porsche's four-door Panamera.

At the time of its global debut, the House of the Raging Bull announced few other statistics, other than to say that a production version could be powered by either the Gallardo LP560-4's 412kW/540Nm 5.2-litre V10 or "a turbocharged eight-cylinder derived from this V10''.

It also tempted that "a particularly economical, but nevertheless dynamic, variation would be a V8 with a hybrid module or an extremely high-performance TDI".

Lamborghini does not plan to work with a partner on the new model, but ''we will use synergies where possible within the (Volkswagen) group,'' added Winkelmann.

An "everyday" model has the potential to significantly boost sales volumes and profitability for Lamborghini. It was affected by the global financial crisis more than some of its rivals, including Ferrari, but says it expects to increase sales this year to about 1500 units.

Strong demand from emerging markets such as China and Russia could be hot targets for the Estoque as sales of high-end models are growing.

The new Lamborghini may be more practical but it's unlikely to be more affordable, with a price tag likely to be several hundreds of thousands of dollars.

A high-end sporty, coupe-like four-door would join a trend started by the Mercedes-Benz CLS in 2004 and followed in recent years by the Panamera and Aston Martin Rapide.

Ferrari isn't expected to produce a four-door model any time soon, though its latest supercar - the FF - is its most practical model yet, featuring a hatchback-style rear end and all-wheel drive.

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