AT age 14, Maurizio Reggiani disassembled his first motorbike, a Bianchi 50cc. His father, the motorcycle’s owner, was a mechanic, and they were both obsessed with machines.
“I wanted to see what principle allowed this machine to work. It was like trying to discover a dream,” says Reggiani. That he couldn’t figure out how to put it back together did nothing to diminish his enthusiasm.
Today, Reggiani is the head of research and development at Lamborghini, the ultimate in Italian sports carmakers. In his 11 years behind the wheel of the company’s innovation strategy, he’s helped the brand move beyond its past glories, pursuing both imaginative design and cutting-edge technology. As he puts it: “You must be able to create a marriage between reality and what the customer expects from the brand.”
Reggiani worked in engine design at both Maserati and Bugatti, where he designed the rocket-fast EB110, before joining Lamborghini in 1998. By the recession, Lamborghini had become a niche brand for overeager, often obnoxious trackheads, and global annual production dipped to fewer than 3,000 cars.
In 2011, under Reggiani’s leadership, the company released the US$400,000 (RM1.69 million) Lamborghini Aventador, featuring the world’s first single-piece carbon fibre body. “When I took the responsibility to launch this car, it was the biggest challenge of my life,” says Reggiani. “Everybody was saying, ‘Are you crazy? It’s not possible.’”
For inspiration, he looked to nature, copying the shapes and movements of venomous snakes and sharks. His engineers spent hundreds of hours in wind tunnels, evaluating the car’s efficiency and wind resistance. The care and attention paid off: The first production run sold out in a matter of months, and Lamborghini’s overall sales have tripled every year since. Reggiani’s breakthrough body design has become common throughout the Lamborghini lineup.
Gian Paolo Dallara, who develops high-performing Formula One race cars, calls Reggiani “incredibly talented - one of the best ever. His technologies have improved Lamborghini and changed car racing for good”.
Reggiani is now focused on developing Lamborghini’s first modern sport utility vehicle, the Urus, due late this year. He works “day and night”, he says, testing his prototype in all conditions, doing doughnuts on frozen lakes in the Arctic Circle and drag racing in the desert near the equator. Virtually every other carmaker, luxury or otherwise, already produces an SUV, and Lamborghini is among the last to join the pack. “It must be able to do everything,” says Reggiani. -- BLOOMBERG