Lamborghini India recently launched the Huracan STO in India at a price of Rs 4.99 crore, ex-showroom. On the sidelines of the launch of this track-oriented street-legal car, we caught up with Sharad Agarwal, Head, Lamborghini India to understand the potential of such rare supercars and the impact of Covid-19 on the super-luxury segment and the potential ahead.
Express Drives: Is the Lamborghini Huracan STO still on sale or is it already sold out like it happens with some supercars at times?
Sharad – It is still on sale. We have just launched our car in India and hence, we can’t tell our customers that it is sold out. What we have started seeing as we have launched the car in India that the demand will definitely surpass than what we can supply. Right now, our focus is that how can we get more slots to bring more cars to the country. Let’s see what happens!
Is there any specific number of cars that have been allocated for India?
Currently, we are looking at double-digits and we know that the demand is going to be much higher. India is one of the focus markets for us and we always make requests if there can be some consideration but the demand is also good across the globe, so it’s about exclusivity rather than numbers.
What has been the impact of Covid-19 on this segment, which is a very small segment?
2020 was a challenging year for the super-luxury segment and we had had the maximum impact across segments in the passenger car. Our sales declined by about 30 % last year. The segment was at its peak in 2018. There were challenges not only on the demand side but also, on the supply side as well. Italy was also impacted in a big way because of the Covid-19 first wave and our factory was shut down for 8 weeks so this made an overall impact on the demand.
That said, since September the demand coming back and if we look back and compare the period October 2019 to March 20 when there was no pandemic and the same period October 2020 to March 2021, as a brand, we were up 20 percent-plus in terms of our order intake, which was a good recovery for us.
This year, we saw the second wave coming and making an impact but this time we are seeing a sharper recovery in the market. There are two reasons behind it. People do understand how this Covid is going to impact. When the first wave was there, there were a lot of discussions, people were thinking that how the market will respond and they were trying to wait and watch. This time, people are much better prepared and aligned. Also, the strong vaccination drive which is being pushed by the Government is helping us towards a faster revival.
This year, we have set a goal for ourselves that we have to set another record year in terms of business and performance. Talking of H1, we are already on track and we have already hit the 50 % mark of the target that we have set and so, it will be another record year. In fact, if you look at Lamborghini’s performance since the time when we created and set up our structure in India in 2012, we have been consistently growing year after year except the year 2020 which was a challenging year for us.
Any key changes in the buying trends in India?
We are many women customers coming up to buy the Urus and super sports cars by Lamborghini so there are some very positive trends that we are seeing. These are the trends that are giving us the confidence that the future is promising in this market.
Over 2019, what percent of growth can we expect from the full year?
In H1, we are up by more than 20 % and our aim is to maintain that for the year. So let’s see how the market works for us but that is what we are aiming as of now.
Last year you had mentioned that India can be one of the top 10 markets for Lamborghini globally, so where are we today in that respect?
We are still a long way there and that is the aspiration for the long-term and we do have the opportunity in the market to reach to that level. The same depends on multiple factors. Unfortunately, things are a little disrupted because of the pandemic and we don’t see this situation turning around very fast. Times are uncertain but as a brand, we remain strongly committed to the market and we believe that India does have an incredible opportunity where we can reach that level.
What kind of volumes will it take for India to become one of the top markets?
I’ll say our first goal is to reach the three-digit number in the market and then, from there, we can work on how we can come in the top 15 and then the top 10. So that should be the direction for us. India has always remained very unpredictable because what we have seen is that there are a lot of frequent changes in the taxation, there are challenges that are impacting the segment in terms of the quality control orders, the wheel rims, the VIS certification etc so they are impacting the segment. So, for this market, while we should keep the long-term vision, I think it is important to look at a period between two to three years first because that is more realistic. The market is very challenging when it comes to consistency.
In 2019, we sold 52 cars so we are still away from the three-digit number. Right now, our focus in the market is to first reach that level in the market and then move to the next level of performance. Just to give another perspective, in H1 2020, Lamborghini was the most searched automotive brand in India on Google. So this is clearly giving an indication of how strong is the brand’s fan following in India and how strongly people are connecting with the brand in India in terms of their dreams and aspirations, which is a very positive sign. So, when you are talking as such, you are ahead of the mass volume brands. And that is very exciting!
Is India in the top 20 markets for Lamborghini right now?
No, we don’t stand even in the top 20 right now. Speaking of volumes, we are even less than 1 percent today. We know that India has an incredible opportunity, we know that we are performing very strongly, we do try to bring things to India which are showing that commitment to the market. For instance, India was among the top five markets to launch the Urus, the first market after the global launch of Huracan Evo, and also, among the top five markets to launch the RWD first. India also got one of the Aventador SVJ 63 cars and that was some because we believe in this market. So, from the brand side, we are doing everything right and then we will have to see how the macroeconomic variables shape up.
The Urus continues to be your highest volume driver. What percentage does it accounts for in terms of total sales?
Urus is contributing to more than 50 % of our business in India and is the biggest contributor to our business. After Urus, it is the Huracan followed by the Aventador. When we were launching the Urus in 2018, we knew that it is going to be a game-changer for us because we knew it is going to address some of the challenges that we have in the Indian market. For example, the challenges in terms of infrastructure, congestion in the cities and this is what we have seen that people who always had the dreams and aspirations to own a Lamborghini so when they saw the Urus, they found a vehicle can give the emotion and experience of a super sports car but also brings the versatility of an SUV.
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Also, if you look at the first 50 cars that we delivered in India, 70 percent of buyers were first-time Lamborghini buyers and when we look at the second 50, 80 percent of them are first-time Lamborghini buyers. We recently delivered the 100th Urus and we created a benchmark of performance. Urus is helping expand the segment and hence, is truly a game-changer for us.
What is the trend that you see among the Indian customers in terms of the customisation program?
While the super luxury segment is pretty small in India, in terms of their understanding, the customers here are quite evolved. In India, the customers are spending more than 20 percent of the value of their car in terms of customisation.
With the Lamborghini Ad Personam program that you have seen at our factory, we are able to bring those countless combinations in terms of exterior colours, interior trims, stitches etc. In India, people don’t want to buy a Lamborghini, they want to buy their own Lamborghini which is an extension of their own personality or lifestyle. So, they want to make their Lamborghini unique. This is the kind of preference that the customers have and it has quite evolved as other developed markets across the world.
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