Lamborghini to Build SUV?
Lamborghini plans to build the new unnamed SUV in Italy beginning in 2018. They plan to build 3000 more than Lamborghini's other sales combined. More via Bloomberg:
A long episode of national anxiety is finally over: Lamborghini will build its forthcoming SUV in Italy.
OK, it wasn't actually a long episode. It was really rather short — speculation heated up just a few weeks ago. But it did lead to a certain amount of Italian panic, now alleviated.
"In exchange for Lamborghini’s plan to hire as many as 500 people, [Prime Minister Matteo] Renzi’s government will grant as much as 80 million euros ($87 million) in tax breaks and other benefits to expand production in Italy, they wrote, citing unnamed sourced with knowledge of the deal.
"[Parent company] Audi is seeking to broaden Lamborghini’s lineup beyond two-seat supercars, which have limited appeal in emerging markets such as China, where road conditions can be poor."
Lamborghini is ultimately owned by the Volkswagen Group, and the plan for the Lambo SUV means that the new vehicle will be quite the Italo-German mashup, with bits of Eastern Europe thrown in. Ultimately, the supercar maker's SUV will share DNA with the Porsche Cayenne; Porsche is another of VW Group's high-performance luxury brands.
Who knows how much it will cost. But it will certainly be a lot, and likely feature fairly exotic styling, although given that Lambo unveiled a concept SUV a few years ago that didn't look completely insane, the future may portend a boring Lambo.
As Bloomberg noted, Lambo's objective is to sell another 3,000 vehicles annually, up from the current total of roughly 2,500, which is all supercars and dazzling sports cars.
Surprisingly, this isn't the first time Lamborghini has done the SUV thing.
Lamborghini built its first military vehicle, a prototype vehicle codenamed the "Cheetah", in 1977. Lamborghini had designed the vehicle with hopes of selling it to companies in the oil exploration and production industry. The original Cheetah prototype had a rear-mounted Chrysler V8 engine. The only finished prototype was never tested by the US military, only demonstrated to them by its designer, Rodney Pharis. It was later sold to Teledyne Continental Motors by MTI and is apparently still in the US. This led Lamborghini to develop the LM001, which was very similar to the Cheetah, but had an AMC V8 engine.
It was finally determined that the engine being mounted in the rear caused too many unfavorable handling characteristics in an offroad vehicle, and theLMA002 was built with an entirely new chassis, moving the engine (now the V12 out of the Lamborghini Countach) to the front. After much testing and altering of the prototype, it was finally given a serial number and became the first LM002. The production model was unveiled at the Brussels Auto Show in 1986. It was dubbed the "Rambo-Lambo". Civilian models were outfitted with a full luxury package, including full leather trim, tinted power windows, air conditioning, and a premium stereo mounted in a roof console. In order to meet the vehicle's tire needs, Lamborghini commissioned Pirellito create the Pirelli Scorpion tires with custom, run-flat tread designs. These were made specifically for the LM and were offered in two different tread designs, one for mixed use and the other for sand use only. These tires could be run virtually flat without risk and could handle the desert heat, the loading, and the speeds of the LM. The LM002 was fitted with a 290 litre fuel tank.
For those requiring even more power, the Lamborghini L804 type 7.2 litre marine V12, more commonly found in Class 1 offshore powerboats, could be specified.
In 1988, Lamborghini sent an LM002 to a team of special engineers with the intention of making it capable of participating in the Paris Dakar Rally. They stripped it of anything that added unnecessary weight and gave it an upgraded suspension, engine modifications which brought it to 600 hp (450 kW), full roll cage, plexiglaswindows, and GPS equipment. Funding ran out before it could officially be entered in competition, although it did participate in the Rallye des Pharaons in Egypt and another in Greece, both times driven by Sandro Munari.
Near the end of the LM002's production, Turin-based autoshop owner Salvatore Diomante created a one-off "estate" version by enclosing the back area and raising the roof. This added significantly to the interior room.