Chasing Rivals, Lamborghini’s New SUV Peels Out in China

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While China’s appetite for SUVs has steadily risen and Lamborghini has set itself ambitious sales targets in the country, an analyst told Caixin that the market for luxury auto brands remains limited as, despite the expanding middle class, few people can afford to purchase such expensive vehicles. Photo: Visual China

Lamborghini will take its incoming Urus SUV to the Chinese market next year, in hope of capitalizing on the country’s growing love affair with the sport utility vehicle (SUV).

The new Urus SUV, which will be unveiled early next month in Italy, is a model that combines the “best performance” of a sports car and the “luxury” features of any high-end car, said Francesco Scardaoni, the company’s Greater China managing director.

The Italian sports car manufacturer initially aims to sell 3,000 Urus SUVs a year, with plans to raise the target to 6,000 in the coming years. The target is a large one considering that Lamborghini sold 3,457 vehicles globally across its entire product line in 2016.

By focusing on SUVs, Lamborghini is following rivals such as Porsche and Bentley, which earlier launched their own SUV models.

Although Lamborghini launched its first SUV, called the LM002, in the 1980s, Porsche was first luxury carmaker to get into the SUV market in more recent times. The company was soon followed by Bentley and Aston Martin.

SUVs sales accounted for 76.6% of Porsche’s total revenue for the first three quarters of 2017, according to the company.

“Super luxury car models have not changed for many years, so Lamborghini is tapping into the changing tastes of consumers … we can see SUVs are growing increasingly popular worldwide, especially in China,” said Wang Cun, an industry analyst with the China Automobile Dealer Association.

In the first half of 2017, SUV sales in China rose 16% to 4.5 million vehicles, accounting for 44% of all the passenger vehicles sold in the county, according to the China Automotive Industry Association.

Scardaoni sees China the largest potential market for his company as the SUV market in the U.S. is already saturated. Additionally, Scardaoni predicted Lamborghini’s sales in China will increase by 30% in 2017.

Lamborghini said it wants to poach its rivals’ customers with the launch of the Urus. It also hopes to attract car buyers who previously gave up on Lamborghini due to the company’s product design limits, which include having only two seats.

However, experts said that even as China’s middle class is expanding rapidly, the market for auto brands like Lamborghini remains limited.

“Lamborghini is a very popular brand name in China, but that doesn’t mean people can afford to buy it … only those individuals with a very high net worth can afford to spend that much money, ” said Zeng Zhiling, general manager of LMC Automotive, a Shanghai-based industry consultancy.

By Zheng Lichun and Mo Yelin Courtesy Caixin

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