With his bespoke pinstripe suits made of English wool, Old Bond Street shoes, Italian tie, flower power bracelets and sideburns, Stephan Winkelmann seems to have arrived straight from a baccarat table in a Bond flick. But, the German-born, Italy-raised paratrooper-turned-automobile poster boy embodies Lamborghini’s raging bull image. He has never been a conformist, having done things often not in tune with traditional Italian taste. For one, he has added German precision to the Italian marquee brand’s panache, speed and power. On his second visit to India, he wants to shake things up among the super-luxe sports car lovers.
Who said the urge to make a statement would succumb to the slowdown? But, to be realistic, even a Rs 2-5 crore Lamborghini is not recession-proof. Punitive taxation and zero infrastructure make it even tougher to broad-base the market. But “lights are always brighter than shadows”, quipped the 48-year-old president and CEO of Automobili Lamborghini as he settled in for an exclusive chat. “Our strategy is not linked to a year or a region but to a process, partners and a plan. We don’t want to rush.”
That’s quite evident as after six years of finding a toehold in India with a single dealer in Delhi, Lamborghini has finally reached the Maximum City. But the “I” in its BRICS roll-out is very strategic. Along with the second dealership, the company — a subsidiary of Audi — is setting up a national sales team with a dedicated head of India operations, Pavan Shetty, for a 360-degree organisational approach. That means it will no longer be relying on importers, probably the first among the global super car brands to do so.
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