Interview: Lamborghini APAC CEO Matteo Ortenzi

Photos - G.J. & Supplied                  Interview - Ash Westwood

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Last month, we had the unique opportunity to sit down with the CEO of Lamborghini Asia Pacific, Mr Matteo Ortenzi. He was in Perth to celebrate the launch of Barbagallo’s latest dealership, a boutique showroom built across two floors specifically to house WA’s division of Lamborghini. With Lamborghini’s unprecedented growth over the past few years, it’s a strategic move that see’s WA become a true hub in the exotic car scene. With elite players such as Ferrari, Rolls-Royce and McLaren recently taking up new premises in Perth, it’s clear to see the value promised by Australia’s richest mining hub. Lamborghini’s new Perth digs offer a showroom set over two floors, with a bespoke specifications room, a triple-storey vehicle lift and plenty of Italian metal to masticate over.

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With a springboard set to launch Lamborghini’s local presence into 2020 and beyond, we will be seeing a lot more from the fabled Italian marque across Australia. Last month, we caught up with Matteo Ortenzi to discuss Lamborghini’s heritage, their stance on traditional manufacturing and most importantly, Lamborghini’s plans for the future. Full interview below.

Mr Matteo Ortenzi, CEO of Lamborghini Asia Pacific.

Mr Matteo Ortenzi, CEO of Lamborghini Asia Pacific.

GJ: Lamborghini has built up a portfolio of timeless and striking designs, with the Huracán & Aventador leading the charge for this generation. What is the direction for Lamborghinis of the future with such a prominent influence of aerodynamics and drag coefficient in their designs, particularly with the new breed of vehicles such as the Urus?

MO: Haha! I always love answering this type of question. It is not difficult to have a very powerful car and to beat every record in the 0-100 sprint. It’s very easy to build a car with the most brake horsepower. It’s very easy to build a very lightweight car; but it is very difficult to put it all together. So the real challenge is finding a good balance and this is exactly what we’re focusing on.

When it comes to aerodynamics and drag, up until a few years ago these influences were not the main driver for the development of a sports car. But now, it is becoming more and more important because the bar is so high, so you must look at every small detail of the car. You have to look at everything to make it the best it can be.

Think of the ‘ALA’ (Active Lamborghini Aero) which we into introduced into the Performante and the ALA 2.0 we have in the SVJ. These are systems we have created which demonstrate that we are working on every detail of the car to make it as fast as it can be, and create the quickest lap times too.

When it comes to the Urus. Urus is a different kind of car when it comes to shape, but it’s still a Lamborghini. It’s a sports car underneath, so the same strategy applies. We’re working with the same mindset when it comes to the next types of the Urus to be released in the future.

GJ: Can we expect a more hardcore performance version of the Urus to follow soon?

MO: Well, we never stop. At the moment the actual engine and body is perfectly suited to the Urus, so in the short term it is the right proposition... and this is not just our thoughts. If you read the newspapers and understand the feedback from the customers, at the moment the Urus is the perfect balance.

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GJ: Lamborghini’s signature is their V12 Supercars. With turbocharging & smaller capacity engines being adopted by almost every marque, will Lamborghini retain the V12 and add a hybrid-electric configuration, or will the signature normally aspirated V12 be kept in production?

MO: We will have to see. We’re always keen to take the next step, particularly when the next step is bringing us additional performance or additional value to our customers. That’s why we feel the V12 is the perfect engine, but technology continues to develop. Electrification is a clear trend in automotive and we are working on that, but it won’t be until the next generation we’ll be having a hybrid solution in our sports cars, because that is when the technology will be ready.

GJ: So are there any plans for the engine configuration itself? Is the V12 going to remain the flagship focus?

MO: Yes, our CEO has declared already that we will be working on a hybrid V12 platform for the next generation of our flagship sports cars. The V12 is our signature; It is our heritage, but it is also our future.  

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GJ: Does Lamborghini have a dedicated EV on the horizon?

MO:  We’ll be doing the step when the technology is ready. At the moment we don't see that a full electric car can mirror the performance of a sports car in the short term. There are too many trade-offs that are still not settled, like weight. If you want a lot of power, you have a lot of weight, and a lot of weight will not give you the perfect driving dynamics when you’re in the car.  

Like I was mentioning before, we don’t just want a car that is fast 0-100 KM/H. That is not solely our task. We want to build the perfect sports cars that are able to corner at the right speeds, that are able to be fast at the racetrack and are able to do more than one lap! All these characteristics are not yet settled by a full electric system.

GJ: So the feel and dynamics will always be of prime importance?

MO: Think about the importance of emotion; it’s not a minor thing. One of the first things you feel when you drive an Aventador is the sound. It’s the vibration. You feel the engine; and it’s the same for the Huracán. The V10 is screaming. All these things are part of the importance that customer finds when buying a lamborghini. We will never make mistakes to trade off on good characteristics just to follow a trend. When we are ready and confident we’re able to build the perfect car, then we will do it.

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GJ: With brands like Aston Martin and Jaguar looking at their past and hand ‘re-building’ some of their iconic heritage cars like the E-Type or the DB4 Zagato, does Lamborghini have a plan for offering hand built or restoring classics like the Miura?

MO: We’re used to looking forward, not to looking back. That’s why we’re defining ourselves as pioneers. We don’t want to renew the old names; we want to create new icons. That’s what we did with the Aventador; it’s a car that will remain in the minds of a lot of people for years to come, and it’s what we want to achieve in the future again.

GJ: Lamborghini’s specialist cars like the Sesto Elemento, Reventon or the Centenario have been made to destroy numbers on paper and offer a raw experience for their pilots, can we expect to see more of these one-off limited run special designs?

MO: Well, the Aventador for us comes at a very important step as we are working on new technologies. So it’s something we’re not just doing on purpose to create a special edition version, but there is always an idea behind it to develop the new technologies, and with this mindset we’re also working for the future. So, sooner or later we will have a new specialist version because we are always working on specific things we want to provide in a car. It can be a sort of special model laboratory to anticipate future trends; and also a way for our customers to experience a new technology or a new way of setting up a vehicle.

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GJ: One final question on motorsport. With Asia’s popularity around the GT and Endurance series racing, how is that translating in the sale of road vehicles? Have you seen a trend towards the elite performance end of offerings?

MO: Let’s say it’s a two-way relationship. As our brand grows, that gives us more power in motorsport and allows us to create platforms like the Super Trofeo Asia which we have been running for eight years now, and it also gives us the possibilities to attract new customers. On other side of that is the success we have in motorsport. The Super Trofeo series is the fastest mono-brand championship in the world.

The Super Trofeo is a very fast car, which gives customers the allure to come back to the standard car because you can show that the base product is so good when it is able to race at such a pace. It’s a double effect. The standard customer who might be interested in motorsport can directly see the success, and the platform in motorsport builds more trust in the performance of the brand, and then more respect goes back to the road cars we’re producing.

On top of that, the big success we’ve had in in GT3 where we won Daytona and we won Sebring, and our performance in the overall vision of motorsport, it gains more trust and respect for our road cars. Motorsport is a platform and an environment where we can show just how good the sports cars that we produce can be.

GJ: So the focus on motorsport will continue?

MO: Yes, and it is growing. The support in GT3 and the work in our Super Trofeo Asia championship is constantly growing. We just had the first race a few weeks ago at Sepang where we had 20 cars on the grid and it was an amazing success.

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GJ: One last question. What’s the next five years going to look like for Lamborghini?

MO: We’ll be focusing on the existing lineup because Lamborghini is still a small company. We did a big jump to make the Urus, and now we have to be sure for certain that we continue the success we are having and continue the growth of the company. 2019 will be the first year where we are able explore the full potential of our model lineup, so we don’t want to rush, we need to do it the proper way. We need time to settle and assess. It was a big investment, we’ve hired a lot of people, so we must ensure the DNA of our guys and our company stays the same so we are not diluting our brand.

GJ: Fantastic. Thank you for your time. We’d like to wish you great success for the remainder of 2019.

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Ash WestwoodComment