Lamborghini is accelerating into the world of the blockchain with the release of its first NFT (non-fungible token) next month. The Italian automaker, which is in the midst of an ambitious shift to hybrid and electric sports cars, announced that it would auction off a series of NFTs that it produced in collaboration with Swiss artist Fabian Oefner, as well as NFT Pro and Sotheby’s.
Oefner’s image depicts a Lamborghini breaking down into its core components as it rockets through the inky blackness of space. It’s less amateurish in its design than many of the more popular NFTs, like the Bored Ape series, which raises questions as to how it will be received by the crypto community.
Lamborghini is fully embracing the astronomical theme. The auction for the first of the five NFTs will take place on nft.lamborghini.com starting at 4:00PM CET, while each of the other auctions will start and end 15 minutes later than their preceding one. Every auction will last for 75 hours and 50 minutes, “the exact time it took Apollo 11 to leave Earth and enter the moon’s orbit,” the company announced.
The description of the process Oefner undertook to create the image is pretty intense. According to Lamborghini:
At the start of the project, Oefner meticulously studied the engineering plans of the Lamborghini Aventador Ultimae and created an accurate sketch of what the final photograph will look like. Based on that sketch, Lamborghini prepared all the necessary parts and components of a production ready Ultimae. The pieces were then photographed by Oefner and his team in a makeshift photo studio right next to the production line at the Lamborghini Factory in Sant`Agata Bolognese. Upon his return to his studio in the US, where the artist works and lives near New York City, he combined the countless images into the composition envisioned in the sketch. It took Oefner and his team more than 2 months to create a moment, which is shorter than the blink of an eye.
Lamborghini is also selling a set of carbon fiber “space keys” that the company sent to the International Space Station back in 2020, as a part of a joint research project. Lamborghini claims to be the first automaker in the world to send components developed and produced to the ISS for scientific purposes.
In some respects, it’s the most Lamborghini thing ever to auction off a series of NFTs, given that it’s sports cars are some of the most sought after automotive bling for the nouveau riche crypto-traders and offsprings of sheikhs to show off on Instagram. They are obvious status symbols, coveted objects among the super rich, and often can serve as a way to store and preserve wealth, especially for those who hail from countries with weak currencies or faltering economies.
Lamborghini may be known for its loud V8 and V12 engines, custom leather interiors, and neck-snapping speed, but the company wants to be seen as innovative and technology-focused. That helps explain why it’s selling its first NFTs.
“The NFT community is quite a young crowd and innovation oriented,” Stephan Winkelmann, CEO of Lamborghini, told The Verge in an interview last week. “They have similar values or interests as Lamborghini as a company or the Lamborghini community in general. So it was a quite a logical link there.”
Winkelmann said the company decided to take a risk on creating its own NFTs after noticing several knock-offs NFTs claiming to be official Lamborghini items. “It’s a matter of engaging with the community that is very linked to ours, but also then to protect the brand from falsehood,” he added.
Winkelmann said it was also a test for the company to see whether there is financial opportunity in NFTs and other digital assets. With the explosion in interest in NFTs, scam artists have found ample opportunity to steal millions of dollars from novice buyers. Winkelmann said Lamborghini is being “extra careful” as it enters into the space to ensure it maintains its brand integrity.
To that end, Lamborghini does not plan to accept bitcoin or any cryptocurrency as payment for its vehicles, Winkelmann said. Tesla CEO Elon Musk caused a stir last year when he announced that the company would accept bitcoin as payment for its vehicles, before reversing himself, citing the negative impact on the environment.
Lamborghini won’t be making any similar promises, Winkelmann said. “We are very conservative in this and we are not changing our way of payment.”
Last year, the Italian automaker finally unveiled its electrification plans, which will proceed in two distinct phases over the next decade. By the end of 2024, the company plans to roll out gas-electric hybrid versions of its entire lineup. Following that, Lamborghini will debut its first all-electric model sometime before the end of the decade.
That means plug-in hybrid versions of Aventador, Huracán, and Urus models will be arriving within the next three years, as well as limited production Sián roadsters. And sometime before 2030, Lamborghini will unveil a completely new all-electric fourth model. The first hybrid vehicle will be unveiled in April, Winkelmann said. Following that, there will be two more reveals this year, one in August and the other in October.
Lamborghini has not decided what type of platform it will use for its first all-electric car. When asked whether it would use parent company Volkswagen’s mass-manufactured modular electric vehicle platform, or “MEB,” Winkelmann demurred. But he said that Lamborghini’s position inside one of the largest automakers in the world was a clear competitive advantage.
“We have to move ahead,” he said. “We have to find a balance between what is the new performance for the new generation to come, and what this means for Lamborghini.”