Lamborghini Huracan Spearheads Supercar Assault in Geneva

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The world’s richest consumers will soon have a wealth of choices: the latest Lamborghini, Ferrari or maybe even a McLaren.

Several new supercars, vehicles costing more than 100,000 euros ($137,000), are vying this week to upstage one another at the Geneva International Motor Show. The offerings in the segment, dominated by European manufacturers, reflect the revival of the region’s auto industry after a six-year slump.

The wave of horsepower-heavy models, including Bugatti’s 2.18 million-euro Rembrandt, on display at the show underscores the return of performance cars following years in which some producers held back. Lamborghini headlined the trend by debuting the 610-horsepower Huracan, which replaces the $181,900 Gallardo -- the Volkswagen AG unit’s all-time best seller.

“We believe that now is the right time for a new model,” said Stephan Winkelman, head of the Santa’Agata Bolognese, Italy-based carmaker. “We are very proud of this car. I don’t see any competitor.”

Ferrari may beg to differ. The Fiat SpA unit lifted a red shroud from the 560-horsepower California T, which accelerates to 100 kilometers (62 miles) per hour in 3.6 seconds. Reflecting the effort to improve efficiency even for elite racers, Ferrari boasted that it reduced the model’s emissions by 20 percent versus the $198,190 predecessor.

“I like competition, particularly when we win the competition,” Ferrari Chairman Luca Cordero Di Montezemolo said in an interview. “In the last three years, we introduced three key innovations: four-wheel drive, the first hybrid and now a new turbo engine” in the California T.

Apple Collaboration

Ferrari also presented an FF model equipped with Apple Inc.’s CarPlay system, and said it plans to add the technology to the California T. The technology lets drivers use iPhones with voice commands or steering-wheel buttons. Montezemolo called it a “first step” in future collaborations with Apple.

Sales in Europe of high-end sports cars will likely rise this year for the first time since 2010, IHS Automotive estimates. Global deliveries may increase to 15,200 in 2018, 14 percent above 2014 sales, helped by the Huracan, California T and other new models in the pipeline, IHS forecasts.

“Supercar-makers are heavily investing to keep up the pace with a growing market,” said Gian Primo Quagliano, head of automotive-research company CSP in Bologna.

Huracan Orders

Lamborghini had more than 1,000 orders for the Huracan, even before the March 3 premiere, when white, yellow and dark grey models slinked across a stage in Geneva. Winkelmann said deliveries of the car next year should exceed the 1,800 peak sales of the Gallardo on the U.S., China and a rebound in some European markets.

British sports-car maker McLaren unveiled coupe and topless versions of the new 650S, which is promoted as a supercar with the ride comfort of an executive sedan. Drivers can choose between “normal,” “sport” and “track” suspension settings for the 650-horsepower model. The Woking, England-based company is selling the coupe version, which has gullwing doors, in the U.K. starting at 195,250 pounds ($326,100), and charges 215,250 pounds for the topless model.

Sweden’s elite Koenigsegg marque unveiled the “One: 1,” billing it as the fastest car in the world. The car weighs just 1,400 kilograms (3,090 pounds) and boasts 1,400 horsepower. The company says it can accelerate to 400 kilometers per hour in about 20 seconds.

Europe Recovery

Jaguar Land Rover, which makes the $106,195 long-wheel base Range Rover and the $132,000 Jaguar XKR-S, introduced a 285-horsepower version of the Evoque Dynamic in Geneva to appeal to performance-oriented customers.

“We’re very optimistic about Europe,” Andy Goss, group sales director at Jaguar Land Rover, said in an interview. Global demand for upscale vehicles “still looks very strong and there’s no sign of that dissipating. We’ve got more sales opportunities than supply.”

VW’s Bugatti showcased a model inspired by the brother of the brand’s founder and a sculptor. The car features a platinum logo on the exterior and a bronze model of a dancing elephant designed by Rembrandt Bugatti. The car is the fourth in a line of so-called legend editions, which are limited to three cars per model. The first three have been sold out, Bugatti chief Wolfgang Schreiber said in Geneva.

“We’re expecting quite a large peak this year due to a large number of limited-run models at the same time as more mainstream models,” said Ian Fletcher, an IHS analyst in London.

Maserati Expansion

To celebrate Maserati’s centenary, the Fiat brand yesterday unveiled the Alfieri, named after one of the Italian automaker’s founding brothers. The long, low nose is a stylistic evolution from contemporary Maserati models, with the grille divided vertically into two concave sections.

“The Alfieri is the best looking car of the show,” Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne told reporters today. “It could technically go into production in 24 months, and it’s one of the models which could complete the Maserati lineup.”

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, the world’s largest maker of luxury cars, showed the i8 hybrid sports car in Geneva. The model, which has a carbon fiber chassis like the automaker’s i3 electric city car, goes on sale later this year.

The growth prospects are also attracting newcomers. Zenvo, a startup Danish brand, showed the 1,104-horsepower ST1, its first model, which reaches 100 kph in 2.6 seconds.

“The supercar segment will grow, simply because there are more and more affluent people globally,” said Juergen Pieper, a Frankfurt-based analyst with Bankhaus Metzler. “They can spend 500,000 euros on a vehicle without blinking an eye.”