TURIN - Audi's first move as new Lamborghini owner was not on the product, but on management. Audi president Franz-Josef Paefgen, after becoming Automobili Lamborghini president, gave Lamborghini managing director Vittorio Di Capua a three-year contract.
Besides Paefgen, Automobili Lamborghini SpA named Audi financial director Ditmar Schimanski to its board. Schimanski doesn't have a Lamborghini executive office, but he will effectively be the chief financial officer.
On the product side, Audi has begun to review the Lamborghini business plan and the first indications of the new decisions will come at the Paris show at the end of September.
Neither Audi nor Lamborghini will make any official statement before that date.
Until the takeover, Lamborghini had been working mainly on the L147, the so-called Super Diablo, scheduled for a debut at the Geneva show in March 1999. The company also continues to work on the Baby Diablo, or P140 program.
Lamborghini began talking with Audi in late 1997 about using the Audi A8 32-valve 4.2-liter V8 engine in the Baby Diablo. About 8 months later, on 24 July, Audi bought the whole company.
The transaction price was not disclosed, but sources close to the negotiations said Audi paid around DM100 million ($55 million).
Vittorio Di Capua, a former Fiat Auto executive, took over Automobili Lamborghini in summer 1995, beginning with a huge cost cutting program.
The first signs of success appeared in 1997: sales rose 12 percent to L74 billion ($42.3 million), and an operating profit of $2.5 million was achieved, after an operating loss twice that size the year before.
Di Capua lowered the break-even from 400 units in 1995 to 195 for 1997.
Production in 1997 was slightly lower than the year before, 216 units instead of 224, but the improved efficiency permitted the return to profit.