Lamborghini looks to accelerate after sales decline [China Daily: Hong Kong Edition]
(China Daily: Hong Kong Edition Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) For Andrea Baldi, managing director of Italian super sports car maker Automobili Lamborghini SpA in China, 2013 was still a successful year for the Raging Bull to record, though the company reported a sales decline from the previous best two years. Yes, the super sports car brands, which only have two or three models, cannot directly be judged through the simple sales figures, especially when one of the models experienced supply shortage due to upgrade, just like its Gallardo last year. Therefore, Baldi shares the secrets behind the impassive numbers and his perspectives on the brand's future development in China with China Daily reporter Li Fangfang.
What does 2013 mean to Lamborghini after it reported a double-digit sales decline in China?
First, Lamborghini sold a record 342 units in China in 2011, the first year we had a very aggressive presence in the market with the two-wheel drive.
Andrea Baldi, managing director in China for Lamborghini, says the supercar will get more traction as the market matures and the Italian company diversifies its product portfolio. Provided to China Daily
The price positioning was quite aggressive as well. We generated a lot of sales also because we gave more cars to China than in other markets.
Second, a lot of competitors were not in the market then, like McLaren and Aston Martin.
Though sales declined, we still see 2013 as a successful year as our market share in China was the highest among the world's top five markets for super sport cars. That means Lamborghini is extremely successful in China compared with the rest of the world.
The Aventador, our top-of-the-top model priced at 7 million yuan, enjoyed its best-ever year in China. A number close to 100 units last year was really impressive for us.
Will Lamborghini pick up sales in 2014 and how?
I am confident about this year because we will move to a new car - the Huracan, the replacement for the Gallardo - which will definitely attract a lot of new customers after deliveries start in July.
The local economy is another factor that makes our market keep growing. It's very likely that China's GDP will keep increasing at a stable rate.
I will also say that customer behavior is becoming significantly more mature. This makes me think that our lead in this niche market will continue to grow.
What's your expectation for Lamborghini further in the future?
In the coming years, I think super sports cars in general will become extremely popular compared to now.
We can say there is still some cultural resistance about super sports cars. Their performance is still not being expressed to the full potential.
I think in 10 years you will see a dramatic difference and this again brings us back to the importance of the China market.
In my view China will take approximately 8 percent of the sector by the end of 2014. And in 10 years, this 8 percent could become at least 15 percent.
I expect the market to double in size in 10 years to become the biggest in the world.
In this specific market, Lamborghini will play a stronger role thanks to new products and versions of the cars we will launch.
Lamborghini is working on an SUV model, the Urus, which will open another market for us, the passenger car market.
Lamborghini will become a brand that manufactures with a wider perspective. Because the SUV is clearly a key segment in China, we also have great expectations.
We all know that Chinese customers have a great passion for SUVs. So will China be the first country to have the Urus or will there be more quotas?
It is too early for us to make these decisions.
We are working on the product first, but it's not a coincidence that the Urus debuted at the Beijing auto show two years ago. What we can say today is that the Urus will be more successful in China than any other place.
All in all, China has the highest priority for Lamborghini.
We can see it from the Aventador, a car that takes more than one year to receive after you've ordered it globally.
However, as Chinese customers always want the car to arrive as early as possible - they are even glad to pay a higher price - we have made it possible for customers here to get one six months after ordering it. Even in Japan or Hong Kong, the waiting period is still 18 months. It is only because Lamborghini presents China with unique privileges.
Over the past two years, Lamborghini aggressively expanded its distribution network in China. Will you add more dealers this year?
In my opinion, 18 dealers is the correct number for Lamborghini to cover the market. We have to ensure the quality of this very young dealer network - most were appointed in the last two years.
They have to dramatically improve to be the best among the super sport car dealers.
We are going to invest all our resources to make sure our customer experience is always the best, in sales, in after-sales and in marketing.
On the marketing side, we will support our dealers with our events.
The Lamborghini Academy teaches buyers how to handle our car for significant performance while the Super Trofeo races are designed for our gentleman racers who have racing driver's licenses and want to compete without super professionals.
We know Chinese customers are younger than those in Europe. What are other characteristics do you see?
Our consumers in China really buy Lamborghini because of the lifestyle, the design and the uniqueness of the car.
They want to make them even more unique and personalized, and this is something we like.
We try to support them with a program called "Ad Personam", with possible customizations, like any colors, interior, and exterior.
We are definitely investing a lot on the "Ad Personam", and we will keep learning from our consumers in China so we know what we should include in our customization package. It's really a different perspective. It's not only about the brand, it also about the possibilities of something different.
(China Daily 03/17/2014 page18)
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