Unmistakable: Stephan Winkelmann and Lamborghini

In our interview, Stephan Winkelmann, President of Bugatti and Automobili Lamborghini, makes one thing very clear: “Rebellious” is not a word he would use to describe the Lamborghini brand. What it really is about is clarity. And this clarity can be found both in the history of the brand and in the current design.
Text Michael Köckritz
Photo Stefano Guindani for Lamborghini

The Countach was unveiled fifty years ago. And it was like something from another star. Wild, extreme, avant-garde in the best sense of the word a typical Lamborghini. What is Lamborghini like today, fifty years later?
We still see things in the same way today as we did with the Countach. The Countach is a template for us, not only in terms of design, but also in terms of the mechanical layout. It is a part of our DNA. The design has two main lines. The first is the silhouette. It’s curved and doesn’t have the typical kink at the windshield. And then there’s the front view, revealing a vehicle with broad shoulders. Everything is very angular, almost horizontal. We want to preserve that DNA. It’s what makes a Lamborghini a Lamborghini, even if you can’t immediately recognize which model of Lamborghini you’re looking at.

What does the design tell us about the Lamborghini brand?
A Lamborghini is an incredibly extreme design, expressed through just a few lines. That’s a fundamental part of the brand’s innovative strength. No other manufacturer tackles this topic in such an uncompromising way. We say that “form follows performance”. Design and performance form a single unit. That is what defines the unmistakable character of the Lamborghini brand.

"We still see things in the same way today as we did with the Countach. The Countach is a template for us, not only in terms of design, but also in terms of the mechanical layout. It is a part of our DNA."

Stephan Winkelmann

Lamborghini is a modern luxury brand. How important is the rebellious aspect, this wild component, for a luxury brand and why does it work so well?
We have always gone our own way. The Lamborghini brand was started when Ferruccio Lamborghini felt challenged to best Enzo Ferrari. This fundamental mindset of always breaking new ground totally defines the brand. But I wouldn’t call Lamborghini rebellious, because there is a meaning behind the brand, and that is clarity and performance.

Is Lamborghini a daring brand?
We are definitely daring because we are always breaking new ground. But we’re also an unexpected brand, unpredictable. We are more than just a luxury sports car brand – we’ve tried out new themes that no one else has done yet. I call that daring.

What will Lamborghini be like in another fifty years?
For now, we’re really just looking at the next ten years. At the same time, however, I’m already thinking ahead to far beyond that. We are fifty-eight years old today, and in ten years we will be pushing seventy. We expect our employees to not only focus on the here and now but to also design the brand in such a way that it has a lasting presence in the automotive industry.

"We say that “form follows performance”. Design and performance form a single unit. That is what defines the unmistakable character of the Lamborghini brand."

Stephan Winkelmann

Wie wichtig ist der Italien-Bezug für die Marke?
Italien und Lamborghini gehören zusammen. In einer kleinen Region wie diesem Motor Valley zwischen Bologna und Modena gibt es eine Vielfalt von Automobil- oder Supersportwagenmarken und ebenso eine Motorradmarke. Das ist weltweit einzigartig.

How important is the Italianness of the brand?
Italy and Lamborghini go hand in hand. In a small region like the Motor Valley between Bologna and Modena, there are so many automobile and sports car brands as well as a motorcycle brand. You won’t find that anywhere else in the world.

Sustainability is becoming an increasingly prominent topic in our society. How do you see this development?
A brand like Lamborghini has to do its part for sustainability too, even if the emissions from our vehicles don’t really make the difference. But we must also look at our cars’ incredible performance in terms of environmental compatibility. In 2023 and 2024, our entire model range will consist of plug-in hybrids, and by the beginning of 2025, we will reduce our CO2 emissions by at least fifty percent compared to today.

Our sustainability efforts aren’t limited to the vehicles, however; our offices and our factory have been carbon-neutral since 2015. By the end of 2024, we will have invested more than €1.5 billion in new products. This is the largest investment in the company’s history. We also have plans for a fourth model line to be released in the second half of the decade – and it will be fully electric. We have to be sustainable. That’s part of our job as a member of society. Our customers want that too; though they also want performance, of course.

Speaking of customers, what about the individualization?
Individualization is an increasingly important topic for Lamborghini. More and more customers want vehicles that are individually tailored to their wishes.

What kind of Lamborghini do you drive?
I drive a matte green Urus.

When you have a little free time, do you like to go for a drive?
I usually only use the car to drive from A to B. Unfortunately, I don’t really have enough time for a longer tour.

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