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Lamborghini eyes first SUV since ’90s

by Anna Mukai

Bloomberg

Lamborghini expects the concept Urus vehicle, its first SUV since the Rambo Lambo of the 1990s, to get cleared for production, the supercar-maker’s chief executive officer said.

“We’re working on it and it will come, which will be good for the brand,” Stephan Winkelmann said in reference to the SUV during an interview last week in Tokyo, where he opened a showroom. “We’re going low profile now. I can’t tell you much on details now, but when we get close to the launch, we will have more.”

Lamborghini and Bentley, both owned by Volkswagen, had prototype SUVs at similar stages of development late last year, though only Bentley got the parent’s go ahead to produce the world’s most powerful crossover. The Cayenne SUV’s success at Porsche, another of VW’s 12 brands, has led luxury brands to pursue supersizing their vehicles in recent years.

Lamborghini discontinued the LM002 SUV — popularly known as the Rambo Lambo — in 1993 after a failed effort to make military vehicles. The new concept SUV, if built, could come to market in 2016 or 2017, Winkelmann said in April 2012.

Separately, Winkelmann said in last week’s interview that the company is turning its focus to some of its more established markets as demand slows in China.

Lamborghini sees its biggest growth opportunities in “Japan, the Middle East and especially the U.S.,” Winkelmann said. “There is a slowdown in high-end luxury” in China, he said.

The comments add to signs that the center of gravity for luxury may be moving away from China as economic growth slows and the government pushes to rein in lavish spending. McKinsey & Co. estimates that luxury industry sales growth in the country may slow to as little as 12 percent annually in the three years to 2015, after averaging 27 percent between 2008 and 2012.