It’s official. Lamborghini is following Bentley into the gilded age of SUVs.
The Italian maker of the Huracán and Aventador confirmed its third production model will be an SUV scheduled for the 2018 model year.
“The new SUV will be made in Sant’Agata Bolognese [Italy], demonstrating our commitment to safeguarding the values of ‘Made in Italy’ worldwide,” Automobili Lamborghini President and CEO Stephan Winkelmann said in a statement.
The move puts Lamborghini in the same super luxury field as British carmakers Aston Martin, Bentley, Jaguar and Rolls-Royce, who all have SUVs in the works or have produced concept cars hinting strongly at future models.
This isn’t the first time Lamborghini has built a utility vehicle. It produced the LM002 in the late '80s. Known as the Rambo Lambo, it nearly bankrupted the company and looked basically like a souped-up V12 dune buggy, hardly the kind of car that would lure today's super wealthy luxury SUV buyer.
Adding a super luxury SUV to its line pits Lamborghini against its rivals McLaren and Ferrari who, so far, have outwardly rejected the idea of adding vehicles with the word “utility” in the name.
Lovely moment of levity last night at McLaren event where boss man said 'no future SUV.' Hurrah to that! pic.twitter.com/09qZKQzty5
— chris harris (@harrismonkey) March 31, 2015
“It will be a very important model for the Lamborghini brand,” Ian Fletcher, analyst for HIS Automotive, said in an email. “Not only will it broaden its product portfolio away from high-end nice sports cars into the growing luxury (and soon to be super luxury) SUV segment, but also go some way to smoothing out the demand cycle of its product portfolio.”
In other words, the SUV could be out around the time demand for the Aventador, introduced in 2011, and the Huracán, introduced last year, wane as buyers wait for the next Lamborghini sports car. The SUV could invigorate sales for the company as it works to release its next sports car.
More sports car makers are following Porsche’s lead into high-end SUVs. The Porsche Cayenne and Macan account for well more than half of the Porsche’s global sales.
China plays a big role in this. SUVs made up 48 percent of all Chinese new-vehicle registrations in the first quarter of 2015, according to research firm Sanford C. Bernstein. It’s not a coincidence that Lamborghini chose Beijing to unveil the concept version of the SUV, called the Urus, in 2012.
But since then, China’s economy has slowed and foreign automakers are slashing prices. A prolonged slowdown in the world’s largest auto market could impact luxury and ultra luxury car sales. Fletcher says production levels for the unnamed Lambo SUV will depend on stability and growth in the global economy, “particularly in markets such as China and Russia.”