Italian carmaker Lamborghini expects to be profitable this year despite sales setbacks in the downturn - but any recovery for luxury autos in 2010 will be slow, chief executive Stephan Winkelmann said at the Frankfurt Auto Show.

Winkelmann said he expected a positive result despite worldwide deliveries that were nearly 40 per cent lower during the first half. "The main focus is to remain profitable," he said in an interview.

For the six months ended in June, Lamborghini, which is part of Volkswagen, reported an operating profit of €5.4 million on €157 million in sales, or 825 cars delivered.

"The high-end luxury market is part of the total luxury market, and I don't see any increases in 2009," Winkelmann said.

"The luxury market is coming back, the timing is difficult to guess. [The downturn] will end for sure, but it will be slow. If a recovery starts in 2010, it will be slow."

Winkelmann said while the US market, the company's biggest, saw sales fall more than 50 per cent during the first half of the year, developing markets were contributing nicely to the company's sales and earnings.

"China will be in the top five very soon," Winkelmann said. "India and Russia will take some time, especially Russia with its long, cold winters."

Meanwhile, the company will open its first dealership in South America later this year in Sao Paulo, Brazil, making it the third in the region after two existing dealerships in Mexico.

Lamborghini was unveiling its Reventon Roadster, a two-seater that looks like a bullet, with doors that open upward. The 12-cylinder engine produces 670 horsepower and the car can go from zero to 100km/h in 3.4 seconds and has a top speed of 330km/h.

The company said it will not build more than 20 and has sold most of them already at a retail price of €1.1 million.

"Even in times of crisis, we want to build cars that fascinate and make people dream," he said, calling the new Reventon astonishing

Originally appeard in the New Zealand Herald

Search for used cars