Exclusive Q&A: Lamborghini boss Stephan Winkelmann

Stephan Winkelmann was recently named the new boss of Lamborghini, returning for his second spell running the Italian firm.

The German has also retained his role as the head of Bugatti, giving him responsibility for the Volkswagen Group’s two most exclusive performance brands.

Winkelmann previously served as Lamborghini’s boss in 2005 and 2016, before leaving to run Audi Sport. His return comes as Lamborghini recorded its second-highest annual sales in 2020, despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Autocar spoke exlusively to Winkelmann about his return to Lamborghini, the company’s success and how he’ll divide his time with Bugatti.

Is it good to be back at Lamborghini?

“It’s very good to be back. My reception was incredible: I had standing ovations when I came into the factory. It was very emotional. But this is the first day – then you have to get back to reality.”

What do you attribute the firm’s 2020 success to?

“One is the fact we are very resilient to crisis. The brand is very strong and has a perfect image. The products are incredibly strong. If you look at the stock market it came back pretty soon, which is a good sign for the economy. People also wanted to reward themselves for what they are losing in terms of time being locked up, so to say.”

How important was adding the Urus as a third model line?

“It’s essential to the growth rate. By introducing and preparing for the Urus we doubled the size of the company, bringing hundreds of new employees on board. In terms of turnover, sales and results this is a game-changer for Lamborghini. It enables us to be more stable and to reinvest in the future.”

What does the success of Urus mean for Lamborghini in the future?

“It proves that we were solid in forecasting of what would happen to a third model that’s not a super sports car. We’ve said that Lamborghini has always been credible because our history was not only super sports cars, but machines like the LM002. So this is positive. It gives me peace of mind for the future, because nobody sees a dilution of the values of the brand with this third model.”

What is the situation looking like for 2021?

“By the end of 2020 we already had sold out production for the first nine months of this year, and the order intake in January and February and deliveries to customers are higher than the same months last year – which was pre-Covid.”

What is your strategy for 2021?

“For this year, and this is paramount for success in the future, after rapid growth like we’ve had in recent years doubling volume due to Urus, you have to come to a moment of stabilisation. This is the case this year, in my opinion, before next year we start pushing for the next level.

“This year is the year of the Super Trofeo Omologata, and then we will have two [bits of] news on the product side, one based on the V12, and the other one also but with the same capacitor as the Sian.”

You’re still in charge of Bugatti: how will you balance your time between it and Lamborghini?

“I’m busy! Technology is helping: since the pandemic I’m becoming an expert at online meetings. I’m doing three-quarters of the time in Italy and one-quarter in France. Covid is not helping the travel. I’m changing my plans constantly.”

Are you the only direct link between the two brands?

“Today I am the synergy, but maybe tomorrow there will be some other one. This can be helpful and fruitful for both companies. It would be limited, but if it helps I will do it.”

James Attwood

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