Lamborghini CEO on going all-electric: “We don’t have to decide now”

Lamborghini CEO on going all-electric: "We don't have to decide now"

Lamborghini sees record sales of gas-guzzling supercars and hybrids on the way. But it’s still undecided on all-electric vehicles.

Lamborghini will spend more than $1.8 billion by 2024 to build hybrid versions of its rowdy Italian SUV and powerful supercars. before producing. Last year, Lamborghini posted its best sales record ever, with 8,405 vehicles delivered worldwide. And business leaders have yet to specify when they will focus solely on electric vehicles.

“We don’t have to decide now,” Lamborghini chairman and CEO Stephan Winkelmann said during a roundtable with reporters on July 27, when asked if the company planned to switch its fleet to electric-only vehicles, such as brands like Audi and Bentley have agreed. “We have at least a few years to decide.” Meanwhile, Lamborghini has announced that its first EV, a four-seat two-door car, will appear in eight years, by 2030.

It was a candid admission from a company that seems comfortable in its own skin, even at the risk of sounding like a dinosaur when it comes to driving green.

Most other automakers have already committed to going electric and are making it a signature of their marketing efforts, even if behind closed doors there is disagreement among executives about the best way to do this. Bentley claims every vehicle it builds will be battery-electric by 2030; Audi says it will end internal combustion engine development by 2026. Even Ferrari has had a knowledge of building hybrids for a decade. Rolls-Royce will debut this fall with its first-ever electric car.

Lamborghini, on the other hand, claims that right now, all-electric may not be the answer.

“It gets very, very complicated to make the right choice,” Winkelmann said.

Record sales

Judging by the latest sales results, Lamborghini is doing something right. In the first six months of 2022, 5,090 vehicles were delivered worldwide, an increase of almost 5% from last year and the highest number ever in the company’s history. Operating profit increased by 69.6%, from €251 million ($256 million) in the same period in 2021 to €425 million ($434 million). The company has sold out all of its vehicles for the next 18 months.

“We see that we can keep making more [money] from every car, and this is also the trend for the future,” says Winkelmann. “We are sure of that.”

It helps that it can afford to wait to make big electric decisions, bolstered by the Volkswagen Group’s record spending on new technology. Lamborghini’s parent company has pledged more than $90 billion to develop new electrical technology over the next decade.

And since the production numbers are many times greater than those of the Italian brand, other brands at VW can help Lamborghini avoid having to develop something electric now. Even if some of the pressure is on Lamborghini to develop fast hybrids, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all of its cars will have to go all-electric anytime soon.

“I consider myself a petrolhead, but it’s been almost half a decade that we’ve been pregnant with the idea of ​​going hybrid and electric, so I know what’s coming,” Winkelmann said. “I think we have to take up the challenge.”

Moving Targets

Emissions and engine legislation will determine how quickly and how far a brand like Lamborghini will have to move into the all-electric world. Such regulations remain a moving target for automakers, with different timelines and requirements – and the threat of more – in Europe, Asia and the US.

In London, for example, a new Ultra Low Emission Zone is expected to be expanded around this time next year, including almost the entire capital city in a new border that will levy fees and fines against polluting vehicles. California is considering legislation that would require EVs to represent about 70% of new car sales by 2030 and 100% of new car sales by 2035.

But 2035 is still a long way off. Politics and opinions can change. And sometimes the rules are different for automakers that produce relatively small quantities of vehicles.

“We don’t have to decide now because we have a few more years to see how the legislation develops, if this is something they might slow down,” Winkelmann said. “There is still a chance that the legislation will change or open up opportunities for small manufacturers … so we have to decide in the second half of this decade whether to go electric with the super sports cars.”

Synthetic fuels could be one way for the automaker to avoid having to go all-electric. The non-polluting blends can still be used by internal combustion engines, meaning they should be legal to drive in jurisdictions with strict standards. Bentley and Porsche, also owned by VW, are experimenting with such sustainable fuels.

Whatever happens, Winkelmann said, Lamborghini will still be selling its famous V12 engines in 2030. In the same period, the brand will present its first fully electric vehicle. And that’s an eternity in car years.