Lamborghini Takes a Pass on Electrification for Reasons Other Than Claimed

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
lamborghini takes a pass on electrification for reasons other than claimed

Lamborghini has said it is more or less open to the idea of an all-electric car, though it definitely hasn’t considered it seriously. While parent company Volkswagen AG has made lofty promises of sweeping electrification and imposed its zero-emission mindset onto the majority of its automotive brands, the Italian supercar manufacturer is not yet among them.

However, Lamborghini has shown that it’s not immune to industry trends. Its almost-family-friendly Urus SUV begins production next month and the automaker has said it plans to launch a hybridized version by 2020. While you can’t ignore the LM002 that preceded it, that’s still a far cry from the pavement-scraping exotics it’s best known for. There has also been plenty of speculation that the company was developing a Porsche Mission E-based electric model called Vitola. Lamborghini dispelled those rumors and has since gone on to say that a battery-only car won’t be on the table before 2025 — and perhaps not even then.

“Electrification is an area of great attention for us, but I’m not expecting it will happen in the short term,” Lambo CEO Stefano Domenicali told Reuters at the Geneva International Motor Show.

Domenicali claims the reason revolves around a need to preserve the basic nature of a supercar — specifically referencing weight and performance. He also said that the automaker has to consider the cost of developing an EV that would meet Lamborghini’s standards for a supercar. It’s easy to poke holes in this argument, as the Urus shares a platform with the Bentley Bentayga and Audi Q7. Neither of those are svelte vehicles and, while nobody expects the Lambo to match the Bentley’s 5,340 pound heft, the Urus will undoubtedly tip the scales at over two tons.

Sharing internals with other companies lowers development costs, and Lamborghini would almost certainly adopt its electric motor from another VW brand. However, some financial investment would still be required, and that’s the crux of this issue. While I want to believe that the company cares about what a fire-breathing bull-badged supercar should represent, the real reason the Italians are taking a pass on electric cars has everything to do with sales. An EV simply wouldn’t do well enough to rationalize placing it on the market, at least not as a high-performance, low-slung automobile.

Lamborghini has enjoyed good sales figures since the recession, but expanding on them doesn’t appear to be in the cards over the next few years. “For the medium term, I don’t see a change in that substantially positive trend, especially since economic regions like the U.S. and China are showing unchanged growth.” Domenicali explained.

He says production of supercar models will be capped at around 3,500, with a little wiggle room left over — enough for a few hundred extra cars, but no more. The reason is simply to maintain the brand’s exclusivity. Of course, those rules do not apply to the upcoming SUV. If the Urus achieves the kind of success seen by Porsche’s Macan or Cayenne, it could easily double the company’s vehicle output.

“We will be prudent. Of course we will grow sustainably, but being in the luxury market we must not take every growth potential that is there,” said the CEO.

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2 of 10 comments
  • Anomaly149 Anomaly149 on Mar 10, 2017

    Smells like there's some brand positioning going on too - with Audi angling for the electro-tech side and Lambo for the gas performance side for now.

  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Mar 10, 2017

    "A man's got to know his limitations." - Harry Callahan

  • MrIcky It's always nice to see a car guy put in charge of cars instead of an accountant. I wish him well and look forward to some entertaining reveals. I think he and Gilles may be the only industry people that I actually enjoy listening to.
  • Master Baiter It doesn't matter whether autonomous vehicles are better or worse drivers than humans. Companies with deep pockets will find themselves sued over incidents like this. Enough lawsuits and the whole business plan collapses. Cheaper to just put a human behind the wheel.
  • MaintenanceCosts How many dogs are wiped out by human drivers annually?Which type of driver wipes out more dogs per mile? Per trip?Without some context there's not much information here.
  • SCE to AUX I hope the higher altitude doesn't harm his zeal or his career.
  • SCE to AUX Probably a fair price. This is a car I can't own, since it's not made for 6'6" people.