Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

To create a luxury market, we need consistent policies: Lamborghini's Matteo Ortenzi

The CEO for Asia-Pacific region on the opportunities and constraints for the sports car manufacturer in India

Manu Balachandran
Published: Feb 26, 2019 09:17:11 AM IST
Updated: Feb 26, 2019 09:21:03 AM IST

To create a luxury market, we need consistent policies: Lamborghini's Matteo OrtenziMatteo Ortenzi
Image: Amit Verma

Italian luxury sports car manufacturer Lamborghini launched the new Huracan Evo in India in February. Priced at ₹3.73 crore, it will sell alongside its flagship SUV Urus, and the Aventador sports line-up. The company, part of the Volkswagen Group, believes that the Indian market has a potential for growth as road conditions improve and wealth swells. Last year, the company sold a little less than 50 vehicles, and is hoping for a 50 percent growth in sales this year. In an interview with Forbes India, Matteo Ortenzi, CEO, Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, outlines constraints and opportunities for the company in India. Edited excerpts:

Q. What are your plans for India?
India is not our big market at the moment and that’s not a secret, but we believe this can change. It’s just a matter of when. We want to be here in a consistent way to get close to our customers, and be ready once the luxury sports car segment and the luxury market, in general, improves. We are a market leader and want to remain a market leader. We are quite keen to launch new products here as soon as possible. We believe that this market will grow a lot.

Q. India is home to a large number of billionaires. That hasn’t translated into the purchase of super luxury vehicles. What do you think is the reason?
I think things will change. Buying sports cars and driving them on road conditions in India is not always easy. This, in my opinion, was a big limit on the market. We partially fixed that with the right product propositioning. Urus is more flexible for Indian roads. On top of that, India is a very high taxation market for luxury, and that hits us. What we need is a very consistent approach. I am not scared about the overall level of taxation, but of the continuous changes. We should have a clear policy and [only] then can the market grow properly. To create a luxury market, we need consistency and consistent policies.

Q. Globally, companies like Mercedes and Tesla are leading the move toward electric vehicles. What are your plans?

Electrification is trending in the automotive [industry]. We are already preparing our steps. Once the technology is ready, you will see the first Lamborghini hybrid. Then, you will see the first electric Lamborghini. Legislation and innovation constraints will most likely bring us to electrify our cars because this is one of the ways in which we have to deal with emissions at the right levels.

Q. Are you happy with your presence in India?
I’m happy about our presence because I think we have the right dimension of the network. Tier II and tier III cities are emerging markets in the world, and India, especially because you have first generation rich men who want to own a Lamborghini. I don’t want to push and then discover that it is not sustainable. India is growing more and the demographic trend is one of the signs that is giving us a positive feeling. Things are changing in India, though this is still not reflected in the luxury market. I was in India at the end of 2018 and I saw a lot of work in progress. So things will change. It’s just a matter of when.

(This story appears in the 15 March, 2019 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)