“The unmistakable design of a Lamborghini super car,” writes Lamborghini on its Facebook page.

Lamborghini joins the boom in supercar SUVs

Lamborghini is set showcase its new supercar SUV on Monday, the Urus

Supercar makers have long known that parked next to that snarling Lamborghini, racing-red Ferrari, or stately Bentley at some of the globe’s toniest addresses is a practical SUV. With the sport utility vehicle market growing by leaps and bounds, they increasingly want in on those profits.

Lamborghini unveils the once-improbable Urus SUV on Monday at its headquarters in Sant’Agata, Italy, where the supercar maker owned by the Volkswagen group is expanding the factory to meet utility vehicle demand. The Urus enters a luxury field crowded with the Mercedes G-Class, the Bentley Bentayga and the trailblazing Porsche Cayenne — and soon to be joined by Aston Martin, Rolls Royce and, in all probability, Ferrari.

Analysts say that the move into SUVs has become a natural fit for most brands, even supercar makers like Lamborghini, despite the risk of alienating aficionados.

“I think if you look at those brands’ image, I think you would look at an SUV — especially a Lamborghini — as almost a sell-out move. I don’t think that is the case anymore,” Jeff Schuster, senior vice-president at LMC Automotive in Detroit. “There is some risk to the purist, who can only see one view of the brand. But as long as they don’t move too far out of who they are, a lineup can include an SUV in these brands. I wouldn’t have said that five years ago.”

From bring nonexistent in 2006, high-end SUVs have more than quadrupled in sales since 2010, from 4,700 units to almost 21,000 units in 2016, driven by the Mercedes G-Class and Bentley Bentayga, according to IHS Automotive. The entry of the Urus along with the planned Aston Martin DBX and Rolls Royce “High Side Vehicle” is expected to push those numbers up to 29,300 by 2020. Even Ferrari is considering entering the category, with a decision expected early next year, which could leave McLaren as the only hold-out among supercars.

Luxury SUVS are merely following the mass-market trend. SUVs are the fastest-growing overall segment of the car market, tripling in sales in a decade from just under 8 million units in 2006 to nearly 26.5 million units last year. SUV sales are forecast by IHS Automotive to grow by another 28 per cent to over 34 million units by 2020.

Before having a true luxury option, IHS automotive analyst Ian Fletcher said, many SUV owners went to private modifiers and tuners to increase performance and add luxury swag to their off-the-line mass-market vehicle. “A lot of manufacturers said, ‘Oh, we can have a piece of that,’” Fletcher said.

Porsche proved the market with the Cayenne, and was followed by the Mercedes G-Class, “which went from being utilitarian to being something synonymous with the Kardashians,” he said.

The decision to enter the SUV market was a no-brainer for Lamborghini, which as part of the VW group shares luxury SUV platforms with the Bentley Bentega and the Audi Q7, bringing down development costs and increasing profit margins.

“The Urus looks like it will be far more rakish than the SUV range that the VW group has, and far more dynamic,” Fletcher said. Trailers of the Urus show the vehicle spinning around the desert, an obvious fob to Middle Eastern brand enthusiasts, but could also appeal to buyers in Africa and Russia, where road conditions in some areas may have discouraged buyers from indulging in the lower-slung sportscars.

“They are aiming to have a vehicle which epitomizes what the brand’s core characteristics are: sport, high performance and accessible to customers who had to give up a sports car because they are having children, or just couldn’t get into a sports car any more or it wasn’t practical,” Fletcher said. “It broadens the brand to a wider group.”

IHS forecasts Urus sales of 2,900 a year to a peak in 2019-2020, putting it on par with the Lamborghini Huracan. And as with cars in the super luxury segment, the profit margins can be astronomical.

In the United States, SUVS are reshaping the luxury market, outpacing car sales and reaching a new audience, with the appeal strongest in trend-setting cities like Los Angeles, Miami and New York.

“I think car companies want to keep the brand pure, but they cannot ignore the market right now,” said Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst at Edmunds. “They are in the business to make money and I think that is why they are going this route.”

Colleen Barry, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Friends, family remember Dan Sealey, stepson of Minister of Agriculture, in private gathering

Lana Popham confirmed Sealey died of an accidental drug overdose earlier this month at age 23

Bankruptcies in British Columbia on the rise

Consumer bankruptcies climbed by 6. 1 per cent in August 2018 from the same month last year.

UVic bugs out during big push for United Way

Teams of UVic students, faculty and staff test stamina by pushing a 1972 VW Beetle around Ring Road.

PHOTOS: Uptown lights up the holiday season

Annual event drew crowd of all ages for parade and Christmas tree lighting

New figures show City of Victoria spent $30,000 to remove Macdonald statue

Contentious decision sparked controversy, apology from mayor

Saving salmon: B.C. business man believes hatcheries can help bring back the fish

Tony Allard worked with a central coast First Nation to enhance salmon stocks

Calgary Stampeders back to Grey Cup with 22-14 win over Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Calgary was favoured to win the 2017 and 2016 Grey Cups, but lost to the Toronto Argonauts and Ottawa Redblacks respectively.

‘A giant step forward’: new $10 bill featuring Viola Desmond to enter circulation

A new $10 banknote featuring Viola Desmond’s portrait will go into circulation, just over 72 years after she was ousted from the whites-only section of a movie theatre in New Glasgow, N.S.

Searchers in California wildfire step up efforts; 77 dead

Trump arrived at the oceanside conclave Saturday afternoon after visiting Northern California to survey the wildfire damage in the town of Paradise.

Trump says ‘no reason’ for him to hear Khashoggi death tape

“It’s a suffering tape, it’s a terrible tape. I’ve been fully briefed on it, there’s no reason for me to hear it,” Trump said in the interview.

Canada Post calls for ‘cooling off’ period to allow for mediated talks

The proposal came as Canada Post workers continued their rotating strikes Monday after rejecting the Crown agency’s latest offer.

Metro Vancouver homicide detectives busy after separate weekend deaths

Homicide detectives in Metro Vancouver are investigating separate cases involving two deaths they say appear to be either targeted or suspicious.

High-end B.C. house prices dropping, but no relief at lower levels

But experts say home ownership remains out of reach for many for middle- and lower-income families

Worker killed in collision at B.C. coal mine

Vehicle collision occurred at approximately 10:45 a.m. this morning

Most Read