STEFAN Winkelmann, the sharply suited former Fiat salesman who transformed Lamborghini from a niche sportscar brand into an extremely lucrative business, has been appointed to Audi’s specialist performance division.
Volkswagen Group, the owner of Audi and Lamborghini, announced overnight that Winkelmann would head up its Quattro division, responsible for turning out performance-honed S and RS-badged Audis.
Winklemann pushed Lamborghini to 3245 sales globally last year – a booming record for the marque.
Audi Australia says it expects his appointment will bring benefits to buyers here.
“With his sports car experience at Lamborghini, he will no doubt bring expertise at the very high end of the supercar spectrum to Audi Sport,” a spokeswoman for Audi said.
“We've had very strong support from Audi Sport for the Australian market because we've always had steady RS and R8 sales... we'd expect a continuation of the strong relationship.
“There's certainly room in our range for more RS variants... the Audi Sport brand is clearly expanding, especially with the RS models ... there's a clear change in the way the brand looks at those RS models,” she said.
Over his 11-year tenure at Lamborghini - which as well as making the low-slung, angular Huracan and Aventador supercars also builds V10 engines for the Audi R8 - Winkelmann transformed the Italian carmaking business into a shining jewel for its owner, Volkswagen Group.
From 2018, Lamborghini will add a third model to its production line – an Aventador-based SUV tentatively named the Urus.
Winkelmann’s empty chair at Lamborghini will be filled by former Ferrari Formula One sporting director and team principal, and more recently Audi’s vice-president of new business initiatives, Stefano Domenicali.