Lamborghini reports drop in profits

Published: 10 March 2010

Lamborghini has announced a pre-tax loss of £32m for 2009 as the world recession led to a slump in supercar sales. Lambo delivered 1515 supercars last year, down 38% from 2008’s 2430. 

Turnover dropped 41% to £215m. It’s a far cry from the dizzy heights of the boom years. World sales reached 2580 in 2007 but have been in descent since.

In the UK, Lamborghini sold a quarter fewer cars in the UK in 2009, down to 117 – including just 14 ageing Murcielagos.

Keeping the piggy bank stocked

Despite Lamborghini’s problems, top brass said it had increased R&D investment by a third, recognising the importance of coming out of the recession swinging. President and CEO of Lamborghini, Stephan Winkelmann, said: ‘Even in a difficult year like 2009, we managed to maintain the rhythm in developing new products. We increased our core investment plans, confirming our commitment to a medium and long-term growth strategy.’

Lamborghini’s place in the VW empire

Founded in 1963, Lambo was sold four times between 1974 and 1998 and went bankrupt once. The ups and downs in its history can be matched fairly accurately to periods of recession – the luxury sport car is the first thing to go after the private plane.

The fact the company hasn’t been sold for over a decade is testament to the stabilising effect of the Volkswagen era, now the longest period of single ownership in the company’s chequered history. Ferdinand Piech paid $110m for the company back in 1998 – ballsy at the time, but it seems to have paid off.

Hard times have been expected; Winkelmann told reporters last June: ‘I’m prepared to face another tough year in 2010.’ Production has been scaled back and it began 2010 by introducing a ‘short week’ to save money. In Italy this means three four-hour days with long lunch breaks.

So how bright is Lambo’s future?

The company claims it has a strong net liquidity, which means plenty of cash in the bank to see it through the hard times. Winkelmann says the company plans to have a new car out every year, starting with the Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera unveiled at the 2010 Geneva motor show.

VW has played the long-term game with all of its most recent acquisitions and has ambitions of being the world’s biggest car maker by the end of this decade. It needs flamboyant Mediterranean marques like Lamborghini and Seat to dispel an image of German dispassion. And when you’re selling 103 Gallardos in a year in the UK alone, it only takes a few people to decide on a post-recession pick-me-up and things are looking bright again.