Lamborghini has become the latest car manufacturer to announce a production slowdown as it grapples with shrinking sales: it will halt the production lines at Sant'Agata for two weeks between February and March. Just under one-third of the workforce at the factory located near Bologna will be affected by the decision.

Prestige car manufacturing rivals including Bentley, Aston Martin, Rolls Royce and Mercedes-Benz have all announced halts to production in recent months, and Lamborghini believes that this shutdown will protect jobs in the longer-term. In order to avoid redundancies, Lamborghini has reduced working hours. The two-week shutdown will affect around 300 of the Raging Bull's 1,000 staff.

"We have established a decade of sales and profit increases, including another record year for deliveries in 2008, but we cannot maintain the previous levels of production during the downturn," commented Lamborghini’s CEO, Stephan Winkelmann. "Therefore, in agreement with the unions, we have decided to implement the option of a working time reduction. This provides a flexible reaction to market volatilities and helps to ensure production jobs in the long term," he added. Just prior to Christmas Winkelmann had issued a bullish statement stating that Lamborghiniis very well placed to ride out the global recession and that the Audi-owned brand would continue to adhere to its future growth targets. During last month's North American International Auto Show in Detroit Lamborghini confirmed that last year set a new record for sales with 2,430 cars being delivered, a growth of 1 percent on 2007's total of 2,406 units.

The unions at Sant'Agata have been quick to support Lamborghini's plan to cut working hours. "The working time reduction has been agreed in order to safeguard jobs and to retain the growth realised by the company during the previous two years," commented the main union leader. "Paying attention to personnel will be crucial for economic recovery."

The target of bringing a new sports car model to production each year would stay in place, and Lamborghini is now preparing to unveil a final limited-edition version of the ageing V12-engined Murciélago supercar when the 79th Geneva Motor Show opens its door in just under two weeks time. "The company will not abandon its long-term strategy and is not making any reductions in its investment and growth plans. We are committed to introducing one new product to the market each year," added Winkelmann.

© 2009 Interfuture Media/Italiaspeed