Lamborghini sees orders canceled in downturn
As stock markets started to crash in October, some worried financiers and entrepreneurs thought it prudent to cut back on excesses -- starting with their orders for Lamborghini luxury super sportscars.
Suddenly, the Italian automaker's key clients either didn't have the cash to spend on the speedster or thought better of such conspicuous consumption amid news of bank failures, mortgage foreclosures and job losses.
CEO Stephan Winkelmann confirmed Wednesday that the company has started to receive order cancellations. He declined to say how many, suggesting that in some cases dealers were able to find other buyers, but it was a sharp shift. Even during the softening of the U.S. market in early in 2008, Lamborghini customers were proving durable.
Still, the car company based in Sant'Agata Bolognese, Italy, ended 2008 with a small rise in sales -- 2,430 cars compared to 2,406 in 2007. Winkelmann said it was still a record year for Lamborghini, which broke the 1,000-car barrier in 2003, but nothing like the 15 percent annual increase in sales in 2007.
The United States -- which includes Lamborghini's single biggest market, California -- took the biggest hit, dropping from 40 percent of Lamborghini sales to about 30 percent.
"I always said there is no immunity for luxury brands. It was only a matter of time," Winkelmann said in an interview on the sidelines of the autoshow. And projecting where the market will go is extremely difficult, he said. BusinessWeek