Stefano Domenicali — the man who controls the bull
Lerato Matebese spoke to the CEO of Lamborghini, Stefano Domenicali
Stefano Domenicali’s name resonates with fans of motorsport the world over, particularly in the realm of Formula One following his six-year stint, from 2008 to 2014, as team principal of Scuderia Ferrari. It was an era when the team’s cars were less than competitive, yet he managed to win the 2008 season constructors’ championship. Arguably his best season was in 2012 when Fernando Alonso managed to finish second overall, while the team achieved a second place in the constructors’ standings.
He left Ferrari in April 2014 to join Audi later that year and was appointed to the position of CEO of Lamborghini Spa in 2016. He took over the reins from Stephan Winkelmann — responsible for the Aventador, Huracan and later in 2017 the Urus SUV — who has since joined Audi to head up the high-performance Sport division.
Domenicali has big shoes to fill, but the Imola-born 52-year-old has a good business head on his shoulders and has managed to perform well even under the most stressful situations as seen during his tenure at Ferrari.
Motor News managed to grab a few minutes of his time at the recent launch of the Lamborghini Huracan Performante.
The dimension of the company is changing, he said.
While the normally aspirated V10 and V12s would remain for some time, there are plans for more innovation from engines in the future.
The current challenge was to determine where the company will be in 2022-24 regarding future models.
He said a consolidation phase was more than likely for the company going forward, however, exclusivity will remain one of the pillars of the brand.
Domenicali said the Urus, the company’s first SUV since the legendary LM002 in the 1990s, would be launched internationally in December and the first units will arrive in SA around June 2018.
No to diesel
We quizzed him about whether the model will also be offered in a performance diesel variant, similar to that in an Audi SQ7 or Bentley Bentayga. His answer was an emphatic no. Of course, we might have to wait and see how that pans out looking at Maserati’s strategy to bring the Levante to our shores in diesel-only guise.
According to Domenicali, 2016 was a very profitable year for the brand having sold about 3,457 units, while the outfit’s turnover was a healthy €906m. With the advent of the Urus, the Sant’Agata factory will double the size of its facility from 80,000m2 to 160,000m2. That will give the company the capacity it requires to meet the demand that will more than likely be spurred by the introduction of the Urus.
"This is the model that will change the dimension of the company. While our sports cars will remain at the core of the brand, our projected growth will come from the introduction of the Urus, which will do well for our big markets such as the US and China," he said.
SA, according to Domenicali, was an important growth market for Lamborghini. The introduction of the Urus in an SUV-crazed market will more than likely spin an uptake from discerning buyers.
He insisted the Urus would be a different animal to what is currently on offer in the market and said that all would be revealed in December.
"We are excited about the prospects of Urus and the space in which it will place us and we are looking forward to your thoughts and feedback once you have sampled it.
"All I can say now is that it will stay true to our ethos," Domenicali said.
In the forthcoming weeks, Domenicali will be in SA to unveil the new Lamborghini dealership in Cape Town that will be situated at the V&A Waterfront and that will be its flagship dealership in SA.
However all eyes will be on the new Urus and, if the manner in which Domenicali enthuses about it is anything to go by, we wait with bated breath to see what the manufacturer has been raving about.
If you have been wondering when the company will turn some of its other concepts into production we have disappointing news for you.
Domenicali said there were no plans to put the Estoque concept into production to take on the likes of Bentley and Porsche, or to produce the beautiful Astern that it showed in Paris in 2014. Never say never of course, but for now the company is firmly focused on bringing its new bull into the SUV arena.