available on-line at http://www.chicagotribune.com/classified/automotive/chi-0408080230aug08%2C1%2C4011541.story ================ Lamborghini looks ahead to broader auto lineup By Larry Printz Tribune newspapers:The Morning Call Published August 8, 2004 Mention Lamborghini and most people think, "a carmaker similar to Ferrari." But as much as the Ferrari and Lamborghini customer may seem the same, they're not, according to Ehran Bragg, manager for Lamborghini North America. "Our customers are pretty young. They're typically in their 40s, but there are customers from 18 up to 80," Bragg said. "I think it's because, traditionally, Lamborghini has always had more ostentatious cars with the upward opening doors and the really swoopy lines, and I think it's more of a statement. Ferraris, especially contemporary Ferraris, can blend in. A Lamborghini does not blend in." With the introduction of the Gallardo to Lamborghini showrooms, the automaker is increasing its efforts to reach potential buyers. Having sold just 144 cars in the U.S. in 2002, Lamborghini is scheduled to sell almost 800 cars here this year. That's tiny, but a huge increase for an automaker used to building a handful of cars a day. But with the increase in volume comes a change of style for Lamborghini. "The Gallardo is a huge leap in a different direction from the Diablo. The Diablo, and especially the Countach, can look very much as if they were put together in someone's back yard," Bragg said. He says that Lamborghini's engineering and assembly were improved with help from corporate parent, Volkswagen/Audi. "These cars are definitely engineered. Little things like when you hit the blinker stalk in the Gallardo to change lanes, they automatically blink four times. So you don't have to turn them on and off. Little things like that would have never made their way into the old Lamborghini, because they didn't have the money for stuff like that," Bragg said. Of course, one might wonder why a company that charges six figures for a car wouldn't have the money to develop such details. Having worked for Jaguar (owned by Ford Motor Co.) and Ferrari (owned by Fiat), Bragg knows. "In order to earn back the money spent to develop the Gallardo and Murcielago, we have to sell a certain number of cars. You can't change the model for seven, eight years because you have to sell a certain number to make it profitable over the model line," he explains. It's easy for larger companies with deeper pockets. "You've got companies like Mercedes-Benz and BMW, and they have technology packed into cars like the S-Class and 7-Series. But the people who are buying those cars aren't paying for it. The guy who buys the 3-Series is paying for what's in the 7-Series and S-Class." For Lamborghini, growth isn't a problem, it's a matter of survival. "To make one car line, we can't make a profit. Two car lines, maybe. Three car lines, then you get into being a real car company where you can report some profit to your shareholders," concedes Bragg. Lamborghini produces only two lines, Murcielago and Gallardo. A Murcielago Roadster is set to debut at the Concorso Italiano in Pebble Beach this month. But a third model line is coming, according to Bragg. "There's definitely going to be a third model line. At this time, the decision has not been taken on what that model line will be. We're still talking about the possibilities. You could imagine, it's anywhere from an SUV to a four-seat car to another sports car, so we'll see." Though there are rumors Lamborghini has a sport-utility vehicle waiting in the wings, Bragg insists that's not so. "The thing that would probably make sense in a heritage perspective would be an SUV, because we produced the LM002 SUV. But I think that's probably what started these rumors about an SUV. In my opinion it might be good to stick with something more sports-car oriented, because that's our base that we know so well. That's what our customers look for," he says. And despite the multiple car lines, Lamborghini will remain an exclusive product. "At the moment, when we produce one more car than the customer wants, that is where we might as well shut the doors. If the customer can walk into a showroom and they have seven different colors to chose from and they can call dealers and start shopping around for price, that is where you know you've built way too many cars. In order to stay successful, you have to remain exclusive."