Chrysler Buys Italian Luxury Sports-car Maker Lamborghini
DETROIT (AP) _ Chrysler Corp. has purchased the Italian luxury sports-car maker Lamborghini, adding a prestigious name to the U.S. automaker’s lineup while allowing Lamborghini to continue business as usual, Chrysler said Thursday.
″Both Lamborghini and Chrysler Motors will benefit greatly from today’s acquisition,″ said Gerald Greenwald, chairman of the Chrysler Motors division of Chrysler.
Lamborghini employs 300 people and makes about 450 expensive vehicles a year, including about 220 Countach Quattrovalvole sports cars, which sell for $127,000 apiece and are the world’s fastest vehicle sold to the public, Chrysler said.
Chrysler disclosed no purchase price, but a Lamborghini official who spoke on condition of anonymity estimated the value of Chrysler’s investment at between $20 million and $25 million.
″Chrysler Motors will gain insight into the specialized craftsmanship and high-performance engineering that Lamborghini is so well known for,″ Greenwald said.
Lamborghini will benefit from Chrysler’s financial strength, electronics knowledge and experience in selling in the lucrative North American auto market, Greenwald said.
Lamborghini will serve as a Chrysler Motors division like Plymouth or Dodge rather than a wholly owned subsidiary but will continue to operate separately, said Chrysler spokesman B.F. Mullins.
″There is an old saying in America - ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ And that is precisely the philosophy that will guide us in our relationship with Lamborghini,″ Greenwald told Lamborghini’s employees.
The acquisition is part of a Chrysler strategy of linking itself with companies with superior technological or engineering strength, said industry analyst Chris Cedergren, with J.D. Power & Assoc. in Westlake Village, Calif.
Chrysler also holds a 15.6 percent stake in Maserati SpA, another Italian maker of luxury sports cars which is building a $30,000 sports coupe for import by Chrysler in 1988.
″This enhances Chrysler’s image as a builder of premium cars, is a way Chrysler can take advantage of engineering refinement and gives Chrysler another avenue in niche marketing, which appears to be the trend of the future,″ Cedergren said.
Niche marketing involves building a wide range of models in smaller numbers, each aimed at a specific buyer group.
″That is more effective at giving you higher market share than building models that aren’t targeted to specific consumers,″ Cedergren said.
Nuova Automobili F. Lamborghini SpA was founded by Ferruccio Lamborghini in 1963. In addition to the Countach, it makes the Jalpa sports car, a high- performance sport-utility vehicle and high-performance racing boat engines.