At the launch of the last V-12 Roadster the Aventador, Sharad Agarwal, the country head of Lamborghini India, spoke with Moneycontrol about how the Italian-origin brand has been faring in India, why demand is greater than supply and the reason for long delivery wait times.
Q: Your latest roadster, the 12-cylinder, almost 800 hp Aventador Ultimae, ends global production this year and you launch this car today. Ironically, it’s already sold out? Explain that please
A: See, the Aventador is an iconic car and even in the 10th year of production of this model, the commercial success still remains as if it was launched yesterday. We announced Ultimae last year, globally. Within seven days, we sold out everywhere. Also it is a very unique, exclusive car which we are designing, with a lot of customization, so it takes time to get this car to the customers.
The other thing is that we never actually have to launch the car to sell. Customers buy it even before it is commercially launched. So, that is what happened with the Aventador Ultimae – it sold out before it was launched. This is the absolute truth.
Q: So, you have no inventory for this sports car?
A: Nothing, absolutely zero. We don’t have inventory for Aventador. In fact, we don’t have inventory for any of the Lamborghini models in our warehouses. To get a Lamborghini model today, there’s a wait. This is the story in India and also across other markets. You can’t get the car. You have to wait 10-12 months. So, if you recall the story of the ship which sank, and it had 15 Lamborghinis… only for those 15 customers, we actually restarted our production line and made those 15 cars.
Q: What happens after this car is done? This year is over…
A: There will be a follow-up. What I can say at this stage is that it will be a V- 12 naturally aspirated engine, but we also want to now hybridise the entire model. We are talking about that. So, it will be hybrid. I can say that, at this point.
Q: Carrol Shelby, the famous creator of the AC Shelby Cobra 427, once told me that no one really needs an 800 hp or a 1,000 hp car but he had to market and sell his cars with something. What’s your take on that with reference to Lamborghini?
A: Sports cars can have 8 cylinders, 10 cylinders, or 12 cylinders. So, you have more cylinders, and the engine is able to generate much more power and much better performance. That is how you can translate these power trains into, you know the outcome, and then it becomes essentially a more heightened experience.
It is not just the speed or the torque, it’s the emotions — what you get with the vibration, what you feel from the engine, the instant power, which you can recognise. In our sports car, it is not about the straight line, it is about how the car can manoeuvre corners, how it can exit and enter, and at what speed you can do it, and more power allows you to do that.
But yes, technology is evolving, and with a smaller number of cylinders, we are trying to do more and that’s how technology plays into it.
Q: How have your numbers been last year?
A: So, last year we did 69 cars. And 2020 will be about 37 cars. So I can say, last year was a record year for us. I can say that the first five months of this year gives us a clearer direction that we will be having consistent growth. Also this year, we are introducing some concepts to enhance customer experience, and are taking some more initiatives to enhance customer experience, enhance the ownership journey. That is one of the very important strategic pillars on which we are driving our business in India.
Q: You’re talking about customer drives and stuff, right?
A: Yes, but we are constantly evolving there also. For example, we have Lamborghini Days. In the beginning of the year, we held the Lamborghini Day in Goa, and invited customers…we celebrated having 400 Lamborghinis in the country now. Okay. And we recently started another chapter, which is a new initiative, where we are talking of doing drive with a social purpose. And that’s a new initiative, in the light of COVID and mental health and all that.
Q: Okay, so how much is your back order from last year?
A: Actually, that is what gave us a strong start to the year. There would be dozens of cars, definitely in double digits. Also, you know, when you are talking about Lamborghini, we do not intend to sell cars to our customers, because it is not a car which is being bought by a customer, it is like a dream come true. It’s a lifestyle experience.
We are making cars to fulfil the dreams of our customers and they don’t want to buy a Lamborghini, they want to create their own car, which reflects their lifestyle, their personality. So, they want to personalise. In fact, in our market, you know customers invest up to 25 percent of the value of the cars in giving that personalized touch — the leathers, the stitches, the colours, the callipers, alloys.
So, you also need to give us time to make that. There is demand which, I can say, is higher than the production slots. And that is what is increasing the waiting period. But I think this is also a challenge and we are always trying to maintain that: how do you manage that healthy balance between the waiting time and availability.
Q: I wanted to ask you, you know, has your headquarters seen the growth and performance in India? What is Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann’s assessment of the business here?
A: I think one thing we are very clear in headquarter is that we believe in the India story. We believe that this is a strategic market for Lamborghini for future growth in volumes. It is a market which offers an incredible opportunity to grow.
And that’s what Winkelmann also said in one of his recent interviews in the media, that here we are seeing a trend across the super sports-car segment, which is giving us great confidence for the future. For example, the trend of reaching beyond tier I and tier II cities. A large part of the earlier demand was in metros, but now today, you start from, you know, Jalandhar to Ludhiana to Surat to Daman for our cars.
We recently delivered the first Huracan in Shillong. So, today you name a city like Bhopal, Indore or Salem, Trichy, Madurai, Coimbatore, Calicut, Goa…you can find a Lamborghini there.