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Lamborghini Says Strong Euro Poses No Threat

Italian super car maker Lamborghini is on track for record sales in 2007 and sees no threat from a stronger euro or a downturn in the U.S. economy, the company's chief executive said on Thursday.

AP

Lamborghini, a unit of Volkswagen's Audi, expects to sell 2,400 of its hand-made vehicles in 2007, up 15 percent from 2006, the company said.

The Italian car maker offered the sales projection at the Los Angeles auto show, where it showed off its $1.5 million Reventon, the most expensive car it has ever built.

Lamborghini will make only 20 of the super-sleek Reventon models and sold out that limited run in less than a week.

Eleven of the 20 vehicles were sold in the United States and five of those in California, the biggest single market for Lamborghini, Chief Executive Stephan Winkelmann told Reuters.

No Sign of US Crisis

Winkelmann said he has seen no sign that the slump in the once high-flying California real estate market was hurting demand for Lamborghini, which competes with the likes of Ferrari in speed and exclusivity.

"So far we have not seen any sign that there is a crisis," Winkelmann said. The stronger euro has also not cost Lamborghini sales in the United States, although the company has not raised pricing to reflect the weaker dollar, he said.

"It's clearly affecting our profitability but it has not kept us from making sales in the United States," he said.

Even if an economic recession in the U.S. market began to hurt demand for luxury goods, Lamborghini would be shielded by its 12-month backlog of customer orders, Winkelmann said.

The United States accounts for about 40 percent of the brand's sales. California represents over a quarter of sales.

Expansion Nearing End

Winkelmann, who has spearheaded an increase in Lamborghini's dealer network since becoming CEO in 2004, said that planned expansion was nearing its end.

Lamborghini will end the year with about 110 dealers, up from 65 in 2005, he said. The company's largest dealership is in Orange County, just south of Los Angeles.

Winkelmann said Lamborghini could add another 20 dealerships in the coming years. "For the time being, I don't see the need for higher numbers," he said.

As it slows the growth in showrooms, Lamborghini will look for revenue growth in areas outside auto sales, including licensing and arranging tours and driving academies for groups of its loyal owners, Winkelmann said.

"As a manufacturer, you have to add value, but the first rule for us is not to dilute the value of the brand," he said. "We are in the luxury business -- with all of the complexity of the auto business."

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