Lamborghini CEO Stephen Winkelmann Speaks About The Indian Market
Stephen Winkelmann: “The India Market Size Has Improved Dramatically…”

The CEO of Lamborghini has had a great run though he took on the job in thick of the Covid pandemic in December 2020. In 2023, the Italian super car maker celebrated its 60th anniversary posting sales of over 10,000 cars for the first time. Last year also saw Lamborghini launch Revuelto: the first V12 hybrid super sports car, part of the company’s ambitious EV programme that will see it go all-electric by 2028. We caught up with Winkelmann during his visit to Mumbai this week. 

Back when the Volkswagen Group acquired Lamborghini in 1998, it did so from Chrysler—a name that might draw a wry smile from car afficionados—for about $208 million, adjusted for inflation. Over two decades later, the latest valuation for Lamborghini stands at a dizzying $8.1 billion. 

The news, no doubt, must have made Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann proud. Born in East Berlin and raised in Rome, Winkelmann’s schoolboy years seem to have echoed his future automotive career—starting off as a salesman for Mercedes-Benz in the early nineties before working with Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Lancia, and finally in 2005, Lamborghini. Germans tend to do well in Italy, it would seem. 


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On paper, what the company has accomplished since is nothing short of a miracle—with Winkelmann standing behind the success of modern classics such as the Aventador, the genre-defying Urus and now, the hybrid V12 Revuelto. Ten years after his first visit to India, Winkelmann has returned to one of Lamborghini’s strongest emerging markets. In our conversation with the Lambo Boss, at the group’s Mumbai dealership, he spoke to us about electric vehicles, business outreach, and the thrill of orchestrating one of the automotive world’s most beloved brands. Excerpts: 


Man’s World: The last time you visited India was about a decade ago. Do you see any difference in the Indian market today? 

Stephen Winkelmann: Generally, India has moved ahead now in terms of infrastructure. The market size has improved dramatically, though our market is still a small market. It’s a thousand-unit market and we’re going strong with plus-100 units, and are therefore confident for the future, even if it’s a market which in my opinion has a lot of opportunities. 


MW: We’ve been told that the new hybrid Revuelto platform is sold out all the way till 2026. As CEO, you must be very happy—how have your plans for electrification evolved since they were announced last year? 

SW: Yes indeed. It’s not only a new car, but also a repositioning of the brand because it is both our top-of-the-line and our first electric plug-in car. It’s the best of both worlds, no? Not only are we reducing emissions, but we’ve also improved the driving experience and the lightness. This is a major step forward, and we’re looking very positively into the future for the other two cars, which we’re aiming to hybridise. We’re going to present the new Urus in April, and in the second part of the year, the Huracán will follow. 

By the end of the decade, we will have an additional model which will be our first all-electric car. In the meantime, we’ll have derivatives on our existing cars which can showcase and improve our plans for an electric platform. Because we are small, it takes time to develop our cars. This first huge step, in hybridising our whole lineup is a major effort—it’s the biggest investment that we’ve ever had in our history. 


MW: How do you see the Indian market going forward, now that you’ve had big successes over the last few years with the Urus and Huracan? 

SW: It’s a stable market in terms of taxation, which is a good sign for us. We’re living in a market environment of around a thousand cars, and in this environment, I think we’re very much accepted as a leading brand. With new generations of customers coming up, it opens other compartments of the luxury business such as fashion, watches, accessories—all the big brands are already here and are setting up for the expansion of this market. 

Nobody knows exactly when this next big step is, but we see it coming. With our experience over the last few years, we believe there is a growth forecast. A lot of major things are going to happen in terms of the economy—not just in India. 


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MW: The prospect of owning and especially customising a Lamborghini is a very emotive experience for your customers. How is it that you want to approach the next generation of buyers? 

SW: The first, and not the easiest step, is always the purchase of the car. The experience we very much look into is that you’re buying into a ‘club’ in a certain sense, because it’s also about the effect of how you utilize the car. 

If you have people who think alike, you can move up—your ambassador in the market will invite you to events. Around the globe, we host motorsports activities to keep our customers close and invite more and more people—social media is also creating an incredible level of awareness, especially here in India. 


MW: Many people have been disappointed by the current sales slowdown in the EV market, along with the environmental issues that come with the production of EV batteries. How do you see these challenges? 

SW: From a customer’s perspective—not in our market, but globally in the automotive market—there’s three things that need to be resolved. It’s the range, the infrastructure, and the charging time. The reason why sometimes people decided not to buy a fully-electric car is that the legislation involved is a bit faster thant he capability of the technology required. We are seeing the effects of this all over the globe. 

There is some rethinking and adaptation required here. If we want to reduce emissions, it’s not only about driving an electric vehicle, but also about having a strategy. We aim to reduce our CO2 emissions down our entire value chain, starting with suppliers, logistics, production and with the cars themselves, all by 2030. 

On top of this, it’s important to understand that governments worldwide need energy. If the energy isn’t green, and we’re just moving, let’s say, the exhaust of the car to chimneys of coal plants, then it’s a problem. The key transition has to be very transparent, and it’s a challenge for everybody, worldwide—it has nothing to do with one specific country. 


MW: India is largely an Urus market, something we anticipate for a long time due to our infrastructure constraints. Do you expect it to continue being your main driver? 

SW: This is the same worldwide, not just in India. It’s not only the type of car involved, but the size of the segment worldwide. The upper part of the SUV segment is much, much bigger than the super sports car segment, after all. 


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MW: The younger generation of car enthusiasts are eager, excited, but its hard to keep their attention in such a busy world. How do you bring your brand closer to younger fans? 

SW: It’s clear that the majority of the population will never be able to own a car like ours. This means that it’s always a ‘thumbs up’ whenever you see a Lamborghini—the heritage and the passion involved makes it important for us to keep a museum, social media efforts, PR activities, motorsports and so on.  

We have ambassadors worldwide throughout the countries where we are present—it’s not feasible to do a one-on-one approach and speak to every single customer, but we aim to have a lot of contact points to explain what Lamborghini is all about.  

It’s more than just the cars. We invite people to come to Sant’Agata, and we ourselves are here tonight to meet the Mumbai dealership’s customers, it’s a good opportunity to talk to them. I strongly believe that contact with our customers is one of the key elements for the success of Lamborghini, now and tomorrow.  


MW: You ran Bugatti for some years before becoming the CEO of Lamborghini—two classic, iconic brands. What’s the difference between running these two? 

SW: At the end of the day, it’s not about creating mobility. It’s about creating icons. Both brands create ‘dream cars’—with Lamborghini, you have a bigger critical mass, so you can move more and be more present. The customers of both brands very much think alike and enjoy the same kinds of cars. It’s just that Bugatti is very limited—less than 100 cars per year—and is sold in limited markets. The price point is very high, and the cars are all left-hand drive, which excludes markets such as India. Another difference [in Bugatti] is the closeness between the people working—this is something I always try to transmit to professionals working in these kinds of companies. 

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