Lamborghini joins the boom in supercar SUVs

Published: Monday, December 04, 2017 @ 4:15 AM
Updated: Monday, December 04, 2017 @ 4:15 AM

Supercar makers have long known that parked next to that snarling Lamborghini, a racing-red Ferrari, or stately Bentley at some of the globe's toniest addresses is a practical SUV. With the sport utility vehicle market growing by leaps and bounds, they increasingly want in on the profits.

Lamborghini unveiled the once-improbable Urus SUV on Monday at its headquarters in Sant'Agata, Italy, where the supercar maker owned by the Volkswagen group is expanding the factory to meet utility vehicle demand.

The Urus enters a luxury field crowded with the Mercedes G-Class, the Bentley Bentayga and the trailblazing Porsche Cayenne — and soon to be joined by Aston Martin, Rolls Royce and in all probability, Ferrari.

Yianni Charalambous placed an order even before he saw the Urus in person Monday. He expects to park it next to his Lamborghini Aventador supercar come September.

"I wanted a double-Lamborghini garage," Charalambous said, growing impatient while a technical glitch delayed the unveiling ceremony on the Sant'Agata factory floor.

"I have always had a four-by-four. And I have always had a Lamborghini," the Londoner said. "I have had Range Rovers. I wanted something different."

Lamborghini dabbled in the SUV market in the 1980s and 1990s with the boxy LM 002, which sported a body shape not all that different from the Hummer's. But the Hummer's lower price was hard to beat. Lamborghini ended up only building a few hundred of the LM 002.

"Now we live in a different world," John Giunta, a Lamborghini dealer in Sarasota, Florida, said. "The lines of this is more modernized, and something of this price point can survive now."

The 32 Lamborghini dealers in the United States already have orders ranging from 10 to 25, Giunta said. In the U.S., the Urus starts at $200,000 (168,718 euros.) The European base price is just under 171,500 euros ($203,322.)

The Urus boasts the high center-of-gravity which has made SUVs so popular, but Lamborghini chief engineer Maurizio Reggiani said that the height can be adjusted to a lower drive for the track or higher for off-road performance.

The Urus can go from 0 to 100 kilometers per hour (62 mph) in 3.6 seconds and brake from 100 kilometers an hour to a stop in 33.7 meters (111 feet.) At a maximum speed of 305 kilometers an hour (189.5 mph), Lamborghini boasts that it is "the fastest SUV in the world."

Analysts say that the move into SUVs has become a natural fit for most brands, despite the risk of alienating aficionados.

"I think if you look at those brands' image, I think you would look at an SUV — especially a Lamborghini — as almost a sell-out move. I don't think that is the case anymore," Jeff Schuster, senior vice president at LMC Automotive in Detroit.

From being nonexistent in 2006, high-end SUVs have more than quadrupled in sales since 2010, from 4,700 units to almost 21,000 units in 2016, driven by the Mercedes G-Class and Bentley Bentayga, according to IHS Automotive.

The entry of the Urus along with the planned Aston Martin DBX and Rolls Royce "High Side Vehicle" is expected to push those numbers up to 29,300 by 2020.

Even Ferrari is considering entering the category, with a decision expected early next year, which could leave McLaren as the only hold-out among supercars.

Luxury SUVS are following a mass-market trend. SUVs are the fastest-growing overall segment of the car market, tripling in sales in a decade from just below 8 million in 2006 to nearly 26.5 million last year. SUV sales are forecast by IHS Automotive to grow by another 28 percent to over 34 million units by 2020.

Before having a true luxury option, IHS automotive analyst Ian Fletcher said, many SUV owners went to private modifiers and tuners to increase performance and add luxury swag to their off-the-line mass-market vehicles.

"A lot of manufacturers said, 'Oh, we can have a piece of that,'" Fletcher said.

The decision to enter the SUV market was a no-brainer for Lamborghini. As part of the VW group, the Italian Lamborghini shares luxury SUV platforms with the Bentley Bentayga and the Audi Q7, bringing down development costs and increasing profit margins.

Lamborghini has not released sales goals, but IHS forecasts Urus sales of 2,900 a year to a peak in 2019-2020, putting it on par with the Lamborghini Huracan.

"This is going to sell very well," said John Littlefield, who owns Lamborghini Carolinas dealership in Greensboro, North Carolina. "I owned one of the old LM 002....The LM 002 was a beast. This is more refined luxury and beast."

Disney handing out $1,000 bonuses to 125,000 US employees

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 8:16 PM

Disney’s Chairman and CEO Bob Igor stands next to Minnie Mouse during a star ceremony in celebration of the 90th anniversary of Disney's Minnie Mouse at the Hollywood Walk of Fame on January 22, 2018 in Hollywood, California.  
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images
Disney’s Chairman and CEO Bob Igor stands next to Minnie Mouse during a star ceremony in celebration of the 90th anniversary of Disney's Minnie Mouse at the Hollywood Walk of Fame on January 22, 2018 in Hollywood, California.  (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

The Walt Disney Company is handing out $1,000 bonuses to all U.S. employees and creating a new $50 million education fund for its hourly workers, according to a statement released Tuesday.

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The Burbank, Calif.-based entertainment giant announced all U.S.-based hourly and part-time employees with the company since Jan. 1, 2018 are eligible for the one-time payouts.

Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger said the bonuses are a result of the new tax cuts enacted late last year.

“I am proud we are directing approximately $125 million to our cast members and employees across the country and making higher education more accessible with the launch of this new program,” Iger said.

The company already has an education reimbursement program for full-time employees and that will remain unchanged.

“I have always believed that education is the key to opportunity; it opens doors and creates new possibilities. Matched with the $1,000 cash bonus, these initiatives will have both an immediate and long-term positive impact,” Iger said.

Almost 88,000 hourly Disney workers will be eligible for the new education program and can pursue classes unrelated to their Disney jobs, company officials said.

Disney will provide $25 million a year for the new program after the first $50 million investment this year.

>> Related: AT&T announces $1,000 tax bill bonuses to 200,000 employees, Trump approves

Verizon and AT&T also announced bonuses for their employees after President Donald Trump signed the new tax-cut measure into law just before Christmas.

14-year-old accidentally shot, killed by older sister

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 2:53 PM

Teen Accidentally Shoots, Kills 14-Year-Old Brother

A 14-year-old Indiana boy was accidentally shot and killed by his older sister Sunday as they and their father prepared to go target shooting.

Rex William Pruett was shot at his father’s home in Campbellsburg, a small Indiana town located about 50 miles northwest of Louisville, Kentucky. Rex, a seventh-grader at Orleans Junior-Senior High School, died a short time after his father rushed him to a hospital. 

“The father received a phone call and, while he was on the phone, the daughter, in what appeared to be unintentional, shot her brother with a .22-caliber revolver,” Indiana State Police spokesman Chad Dick told The Times-Mail in Bedford.

Officials at the boy’s school, where his sister is a ninth-grader, said that extra counselors were brought in Monday to help students cope with the tragedy. Police investigators waited to release the boy’s name until those measures were in place. 

“The first-period teachers had a written statement to read about the incident and then, for any students that need additional help, we have counselors standing by,” Orleans Community Schools Superintendent Gary McClintic told the newspaper.  

Chris Stevens, principal of the siblings’ school, showed a news crew from WAVE 3 News in Louisville Rex’s locker, which was adorned Monday with photos and letters from his classmates. 

“This does remind you quite a bit of Rex,” Stevens told the station. “There were a lot of tears and a lot of smiles today.”

Stevens said that faculty members and administrators have made it clear to students that the shooting was accidental. When Rex’s sister returns to class, they will offer her their support, he said. 

Family and friends also offered the girl their support on Facebook, where she described her younger brother as “such a sweet little boy.”

“Much love, Rexy, much love. We will all keep you in our hearts,” the girl wrote. 

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Stevens described the rural community as one in which guns are part of everyday life.

“In our elementary, at the sixth-grade level, we have a gun safety course that all of our students are allowed to go through,” Stevens told the news station

McClintic, who said he taught Rex’s father when he was a teacher, described the boy’s family as a good one that had been involved with Orleans’ public schools for multiple generations. 

“It’s hard on the community, just as much as it is on the school,” McClintic told The Times-Mail

Johnny Henderson, pastor of Lost River Missionary Baptist Church in Claysville, said that Rex and his family attended services there the morning of the shooting.

“He was an outstanding young man,” Henderson said.

The pastor said the Pruett family needs support, not criticism over the shooting.

“They need support and people to pray for them for peace and comfort,” Henderson said. “They still have a hard time going forward. They still have a funeral to go to.

“They are going to be living without this young man.”

Deputies: 2 arrested after 3-month-old child, 51 pounds of heroin, found in SUV

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 3:50 PM

Police Two Arrested After 51 Pounds Of Heroin, 3-Month-Old Child Found In SUV

Deputies in Mississippi arrested two women Monday night on suspicion of drug trafficking after authorities said they found 51 pounds of heroin and a 3-month-old child in an SUV the women were driving.

>> Read more trending news

A deputy pulled over a Ford SUV on Interstate 20 in Rankin County on Monday night for an unspecified traffic violation. Authorities said that during the stop, the deputy became suspicious that the SUV was being used to transport drugs or contraband.

Deputies said the women in the vehicle, driver Arlene Viridiana Moya, 23, and passenger Trisha Lynne Ibarra, 23, allowed authorities to search the SUV. Inside, deputies said they found 51 pounds of heroin concealed in the vehicle.

Deputies in Rankin County, Mississippi, arrested 23-year-old Arlene Viridiana Moya, left, and 23-year-old Trisha Lynne Ibarra, right, on suspicion of drug trafficking on Monday, Jan. 22, 2018.(Rankin County Sheriff's Office)

Deputies estimated the drugs were worth between $2 million and $10 million.

Authorities also found Ibarra’s 3-month-old child in the SUV, deputies said. Rankin County Court Judge Tom Broome ordered the toddler be taken into the custody of Child Protective Services.

Moya, of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, and Ibarra, of Laredo, Texas, were arrested on charges of aggravated trafficking of heroin.

Authorities continue to investigate the case.

Hawaii governor couldn't correct missile alert sooner because he forgot Twitter password 

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 1:12 PM

Hawaii Governor Forgot Twitter Password, Couldn't Update Missile Alert

Forgetting a password to a social media account can be embarrassing, and that memory lapse caused some anxious moments in Hawaii when a missile alert was sent by mistake.

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When the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency sent the incorrect alert on Jan. 13, panic gripped the state. It took Hawaii Gov. David Ige 17 minutes to take to Twitter to reassure the public that the alert was a false alarm.

The reason, he admitted Monday, is that Ige forgot his Twitter password, The Washington Post reported.

“I have to confess that I don’t know my Twitter account log-ons and the passwords, so certainly that’s one of the changes that I’ve made,” Ige said after he gave his State of the State address, the Post reported.

The missile alert was sent at 8:07 a.m., and Ige was informed by the state’s adjutant general that it was false two minutes after it was sent, the Post reported. Ige posted to Twitter at 8:24, tweeting, “There is NO missile threat.”

The governor posted to his Facebook account 23 minutes after the alert was sent. Ige did not say if he had forgotten his Facebook login credentials, the Post reported.

“I was in the process of making calls to the leadership team both in Hawaii Emergency Management as well as others,” Ige told reporters Monday. “The focus really was on trying to get as many people informed about the fact that it was a false alert.”