Why Lamborghini and (possibly) Ferrari are building SUVs
If you take a step back a quarter of a century, the world’s automotive landscape looked very different. SUV’s weren’t really a thing. Instead, we had what people referred to as off-roaders which were exactly that. The likes of Jeep, Range Rover to name but a few would sell you a rugged, dependable, all weather, go anywhere very tall and capable car.
Then the Americans gave us the phrase ‘Sports Utility Vehicle’, and as they say, the rest is history. In 2017 SUV’s are literally everywhere. In the UK they make up a huge percentage of all cars sold. In the last decade, car buyers have switched in their droves from saloons and estates to tall and not very off-road capable vehicles.
With the who’s who of luxury car-makers now falling over each other to grab a part of this lucrative market sector. Lamborghini is the latest to turn up to the party with its Urus Super-SUV. Joining the likes of Maserati who introduced their Levante, and Bentley who will sell you a very tall and very off-road capable SUV for over £200k if you can afford one. Even the likes of Rolls Royce are building a mobile stately home with the Cullinan. Not to mention that even the last stubborn holdouts Ferrari could now enter this now frantic market sector with their aptly titled FUV.
Take all of the money now, or somebody else will
There is one single reason for luxury carmakers introducing an SUV model to their model lineups; they do not want to lose a sale to a potential rival. They are all fully aware if they don’t build an SUV, that another carmaker will happily provide one meaning they will lose out on a potentially lucrative customer.
As buyers snap up luxury SUV’s faster than carmakers can build them brings us to the second knock-on effect – the huge revenues they generate. To allow Lamborghini to build the Urus, they built an entirely new factory at Sant’Agata Bolognese. This new facility will allow the company to double its production numbers to around 7,000 cars a year, half of which will be the Urus model.
Make a deal with devil and reap the rewards
Porsche were the first major carmaker to move into the uber-SUV sector all the way back in 2002 with the Cayenne. At the time they took a fair amount of heat over the way it looked, in so much that it could be best described as a bit on the fugly side.
Regardless of the visual aspect, Porsche well and truly had the last laugh. As the Cayenne flew out of dealerships as quick as Porsche could build them. Now, the model is a huge money maker for the company alongside its smaller SUV sibling the Macan. Both models accounted for over 30 percent of worldwide model sales during 2016 helping the company to a 3.88 billion Euro operating profit in the year. Now in 2017, both the Cayenne and Macan have evolved into handsome looking cars that are close to being the best of their type to drive.
Since Porsche took the first brave steps of bringing an SUV to the world, pretty much every carmaker has caught on. To be brutally fair some haven’t exactly worked out, but others such as the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio which combines huge power, performance with visuals to die establishing that SUV’s can be pretty as well as super quick.
The SUV knock-on effect
While you may not like it, all of these SUV’s sales mean one thing – huge profits from which a considerable amount can be funnelled back to all-important Research and Development for fun things such as halo hypercars.
The Porsche 918 Spyder was a loss maker for the Porsche despite the $845,000 base cost despite the fact they every single car was sold. Unlike the loss-making 959 that came before it, the company was able to absorb this loss and produce an example of what is possible when you combine a very large amount of R&D cash and some of the greatest car development minds in the world.
All of the speed and greatness that is the 918 Spyder was only financially possible as Porsche was able to shift huge numbers of their Cayenne and Macan models (along with the likes of the 911, the 718 and Panamera).
Just think for a minute, if Ferrari builds their FUV, and it sells. Which it will, of course, sell more than Maranello can produce. The massive revenues made will be partially reinvested into making an, even more, faster and insane halo hypercar than the LaFerrari that came before it.
The same of course applies to Lamborghini, when they sell 3,500 Urus models (as we expect them to) they will of course channel some of this much-needed cash straight back into R&D giving us even faster and even more insane halo models boasting performance numbers that attempt to bend the laws of physics to new, never before seen levels of ultimate speed and power.
So, next time a major exotic car maker builds an SUV, just stop and think for second of the even greater cars they will produce as a result of dealing with the devil himself.
Do you agree that Super-SUV’s are a necessary evil? Or are they a heritage ruining dalliance you would rather see avoided at all costs? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.