“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

Province announces $100-million grant funding for Northwest communities

The Northern Capital and Planning Grant will go to four regional districts and 22 municipalities

Security guard now on patrol at three Terrace banks

Company hired to secure ATM vestibules due to safety concerns

LNG Canada sponsors fast-tracked driver’s license training in Terrace, Kitimat

The $80,000 contribution is part of the company’s commitment to hire locally

Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project searches for partners

TransCanada is renewing permits for its natural gas pipeline project to North Coast.

Coastal GasLink stops work to investigate archaeological find

OGC archaeologists are en route to the Houston-area site where Unist’ot’en report finding stone tools

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

B.C. couple attacked with acid, slashed with knife in Vietnam

Warning, graphic images: Man has burns on 80 per cent of his body, slashed with knife

Northern B.C. First Nation clan says ancient tools found at pipeline work site

Archeologists from the Smithsonian Institute estimate one of the stones found dates back up to 3500 years

Names keep adding to vaccine petition started by B.C. mom

Maple Ridge mom started campaign to make vaccination a condition of attending school

Wilson-Raybould resignation stokes anger, frustration within veterans community

Liberals have had three veterans-affairs ministers — Kent Hehr, Seamus O’Regan and Wilson-Raybould

Most Read