The man who con­trols the bull

IN­TER­VIEW

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS - Lerato Matebese

Ste­fano Domeni­cali’s name res­onates with fans of mo­tor­sport the world over, par­tic­u­larly in the realm of For­mula One fol­low­ing his sixyear 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-yearold 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 dieselonly 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 SUVcrazed 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.

NEW DEAL­ER­SHIP

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.

Lerato chats to Ste­fano Domeni­cali, CEO of Lam­borgh­ini.

The com­pany is fo­cused on bring­ing its new Urus SUV to the mar­ket at the end of 2017.

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