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Lamborghini Wants to Lose the Self-Driving Race

By: Bridget Clerkin October 4, 2017
The steering wheel will long be a feature of a Lamborghini (seen here in a 2005 Murcielago), say the leaders of the Italian company, which isn't making moves into the self-driving world.

Lamborghini may make one of the world’s fastest cars, but when it comes to producing autonomous vehicles, they’re happy to lag behind.

Several key employees for the European manufacturer recently declared that entering the self-driving race was low on its list of priorities.

“If you buy a Lamborghini, you buy it to have fun and enjoy the driving,” the company’s research and development department head, Maurizio Reggiani, recently told news publication Digital Trends. “If we’re talking real autonomous driving, I think we will be the last brand to offer it.”

His prediction for the business had a sound foundation: a similar promise made by the company’s own CEO, Stefano Domenicali.

“I can guarantee everyone that Lamborghini will have for a long time, never say never in life, but I’d say for a very long time a big and good steering wheel and two pedals to control and enjoy the drive,” he told CNBC late last year.

Such words would seem shocking—or sacrilege—in Silicon Valley, where fervor for the technology is at a fever pitch. (The coming $2 billion court battle between two of its richest residents, Waymo and Uber, illustrates just how far businesses there will allegedly go to get a leg up on competitors.)

And around the world, car manufacturers are pledging fast-approaching deadlines for their first commercial self-driving models, creating a wave of fast-forming partnerships from across the manufacturing and tech worlds. (The two industries make a potent mix. All told, the self-driving phenomenon is predicted to inject $7 trillion into the economy.)

But the high-end vehicle manufacturer has the luxury of staying out of that fast-paced world, and focusing exclusively on its fast-paced vehicles. The company is likely betting it can rely on a dependable niche market with wealthy patrons to allow it to evolve its models more naturally—a process that will most likely include the eventual incorporation of some autonomous tech, Domenicali said.

“It will come one day,” he said in the CNBC interview. “Of course the sports car niche will be affected by this technology.”

Until then, customers in an increasingly autonomous world will just have to pay a lot more for the cheap thrill of driving.

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