Sant’agata, Italy — Supercar makers have long known that parked next to that snarling Lamborghini, a racing-red Ferrari, or stately Bentley at some of the globe’s toniest addresses is a practical SUV.
With the sport utility vehicle market growing by leaps and bounds, they increasingly want in on the profits.
Lamborghini unveiled the once-improbable Urus SUV on Monday at its headquarters in Sant’Agata, Italy, where the supercar maker owned by the Volkswagen group is expanding the factory to meet utility vehicle demand.
The Urus enters a luxury field crowded with the Mercedes G-Class, the Bentley Bentayga and the trailblazing Porsche Cayenne — and soon to be joined by Aston Martin, Rolls Royce and in all probability, Ferrari.
Yianni Charalambous placed an order even before he saw the Urus in person Monday. He expects to park it next to his Lamborghini Aventador supercar come September.
“I wanted a double-Lamborghini garage,” Charalambous said, growing impatient while a technical glitch delayed the unveiling ceremony on the Sant’Agata factory floor.
“I have always had a four-by-four. And I have always had a Lamborghini,” the Londoner said. “I have had Range Rovers. I wanted something different.”
Lamborghini dabbled in the SUV market in the 1980s and 1990s with the boxy LM 002, which sported a body shape not all that different from the Hummer’s.
But the Hummer’s lower price was hard to beat. Lamborghini ended up only building a few hundred of the LM 002.
The 32 Lamborghini dealers in the United States already have orders ranging from 10 to 25, Giunta said. In the U.S., the Urus starts at $200,000 (168,718 euros.) The European base price is just under 171,500 euros ($203,322.)
The Urus can go from 0 to 62 mph in 3.6 seconds and brake from 62 mph to a stop in 111 feet.
At a maximum speed of 189.5 mph, Lamborghini boasts that it is “the fastest SUV in the world.”
Analysts say that the move into SUVs has become a natural fit for most brands, despite the risk of alienating aficionados.
“I think if you look at those brands’ image, I think you would look at an SUV — especially a Lamborghini — as almost a sell-out move. I don’t think that is the case anymore,” Jeff Schuster, senior vice president at LMC Automotive in Detroit.
From being nonexistent in 2006, high-end SUVs have more than quadrupled in sales since 2010, from 4,700 units to almost 21,000 units in 2016, driven by the Mercedes G-Class and Bentley Bentayga, according to IHS Automotive.
The entry of the Urus along with the planned Aston Martin DBX and Rolls Royce “High Side Vehicle” is expected to push those numbers up to 29,300 by 2020.
Even Ferrari is considering entering the category, with a decision expected early next year, which could leave McLaren as the only hold-out among supercars.
The decision to enter the SUV market was a no-brainer for Lamborghini. As part of the VW group, the Italian Lamborghini shares luxury SUV platforms with the Bentley Bentayga and the Audi Q7, bringing down development costs and increasing profit margins.
Lamborghini has not released sales goals, but IHS forecasts Urus sales of 2,900 a year to a peak in 2019-2020, putting it on par with the Lamborghini Huracan.
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