Headquartered in Barcelona, Hispano Suiza is a Spanish car brand with more than a century of history. Simon Wittenberg caught up with their CEO, Sergio Martínez Campos, to find out more.
Luxurious Magazine: You joined Hispano Suiza in 2018 with a non-automotive background. What interested you about the motor industry?
Sergio Martínez Campos: I entered the industrial sector approximately in 2002, and the industrial processes gave me a very broad vision of projects on a consulting level.
After several years working on process optimisation, I had the chance to collaborate with QEV Technologies and work on 360º sustainable mobility. This made us see how the motor industry was evolving in order to launch viable products on the market, by carefully segmenting them and making them a reality. With the Hispano Suiza project, all of this enabled us to see that we were faced with the best opportunity in the history of the automotive industry.
LM: Hispano Suiza dates back to 1904, and has built over 12,000 luxury cars and 50,000 aircraft engines. How are you looking to preserve the brand’s heritage and DNA?
SMC: The Hispano Suiza brand DNA has preserved it for all these years. Miguel Suqué, the great-grandson of its founder, is now at the helm, giving strong continuity to the brand owned by the Suqué Mateu family, as long as we can remain loyal to its elegance, reliability, exclusivity, personalisation, sportiness, and above all, by being at the forefront of cutting-edge technology.
LM: As part of the rebirth of the brand, you launched the Carmen at the Geneva Motor Show in 2019, which combines hypercar-rivalling performance with exquisite luxury. What has the interest been like in the car, and how many orders have you had?
SMC: Since we launched the Hispano Suiza Carmen not quite a year and a half ago in March 2019, the expectation was high for us. We had to have the first-ever electric hypercar with more than 1,000 hp, with the best electric platform created by an experienced team with exceptional achievements, such as winning the Formula-E World Championship, which led us to make history again in the automotive sector.
Right now, anyone who dreams of owning a Hispano Suiza can make it come true, and everyone who’s had the chance to drive it, such as Emerson Fittipaldi and Luis Pérez Sala, amongst other drivers, have come away awe-stricken… We’ve received several orders, and we’ll be delivering the initial units in the first quarter of 2021. For example, one delivery will be to Michael Fux, and for him, it’ll be a dream come true.
LM: What is the reason for the teardrop shape of the Carmen, and for creating a modern-day version of the Dubonnet Xenia?
SMC: When we began to think how we could stay true to the brand DNA, we thought long and hard about how to explain to the world that Hispano Suiza made history in the global automotive sector, and we aimed to create models that transmit what we want it to always stand for. We achieved an exceptional car with the Dubonnet Xenia, and with results like that, you can only create something new which is again uniquely exceptional.
That was our intention with our design director Francesc Arenas – to convey elegance combined with sportiness which has made our brand special since 1904.
LM: Earlier this year, you unveiled the 1,100 hp Carmen Boulogne. What are the key differences between this car and the Carmen?
SMC: As with all the models that we design, there are variations to satisfy our customers with different features, and this made us take a look back at the history of Hispano Suiza in the world of competition. The Carmen Boulogne, inspired by motorsport, pays tribute to the heritage of the brand in the world of competition. Taking its cue from Carmen’s substantial pedigree, the Carmen Boulogne delivers 820 kW (1,114 hp), a power increase of 70 kW (95 hp); a higher top speed of 290 km/h (180 mph), an increase of 40 km/h (25 mph) and 0-100 km/h acceleration in under 2.6 seconds.
Looking back at our history, and continuing with our ‘Unique Tailormade’ programme, the Boulogne features design enhancements that reference the Hispano Suiza racing cars of the 1920s, while building on the exhilarating performance and exceptional luxury of the Carmen. The Boulogne nickname dates back to 1921 and the Georges Boillot Cup race, where Hispano Suiza competed with a performance-focused version of the company’s H6 Coupé.
The endurance race saw competitors fight for victory for more than 3.5 hours on the roads surrounding the French city of Boulogne. Hispano Suiza achieved three consecutive race victories, with drivers André Dubonnet (1921), Paul Bablot (1922) and Léonce Garnier (1923) driving specially modified versions of the Hispano Suiza H6.
LM: Who is your target market for your product line-up, and who are your main customers?
SMC: Our target customer is anybody who wants to have a car that is unique in the automotive market; in short, a hand-crafted masterpiece of which we will only make 19 units of the Carmen and five of the Boulogne. We cater to super collectors or lovers of the latest technology who want to be the first to make the dream of enjoying it come true. It’s not every day that you can drive a car that delivers more than 1,010 hp!
LM: Which brands do you see as Hispano Suiza’s main competitors?
SMC: Our current competitors are all those brands with a similar history to Hispano Suiza in the automotive sector, which offer cutting-edge technology to make that combination unique. Brands with a strong legacy, and which are ahead of the curve at giving what’s best to their customers, are the best competitors we could have.
LM: What impact has the Coronavirus had on your business, with Barcelona and Catalonia being amongst the worst affected areas in Spain?
SMC: The impact it’s had on us is to make us particularly aware that everything has changed worldwide, and that we must take great care of the health of those around us. It is true that Barcelona is one of the areas that was affected, but all the safety rules that we applied kept us safe and well.
From the point of view of the project, we had to slow down our activity in the factory, but all the technical, commercial, marketing, finance, legal, design teams… did an excellent job working from home, and proof of this, is that we continue to show the world the progress made during the last year with results that make us especially proud.
LM: What is next for Hispano Suiza after the pandemic has settled down?
SMC: It’s very important to Hispano Suiza to continue telling the world that we’re here to stay, and that has always been our goal with the strategy we’ve set for ourselves. As our President Miguel Suqué (the great-grandson of the founder of our brand) once told me during a moment of reflection in the middle of the lockdown, “Hispano Suiza got through World War I ten years after opening.
Following that, we made it through a dictatorship, a republic, a civil war and another world war – showing that we have a strong will to succeed. We were caught in the middle of a global pandemic in the second year of the project. That is devastating for many businesses, but we’ll pull through again; it’s in our DNA. It’s in the wings of our stork that will enable us to take flight.” I believe these words perfectly sum up what we strive for and what the Suqué Mateu family legacy conveys.
LM: ‘In normal’ circumstances, what do you consider to be your personal luxuries?
SMC: For me, it’s a luxury to be part of the rebirth of a brand which has everything to continue making dreams come true for a lot of people; a project involving a team that has the passion and courage to keep moving forward despite the circumstances.
I believe that individual capacity to change is what makes us evolve more strongly, and that’s what I try to transmit both personally and professionally. We must be aware that everything is changing and it’s a true luxury to be able to express what we feel every day.
LM: Thank you for your time Sergio, and it has been a pleasure talking to you.
Hispano Suiza – Where and How?
For more information on Hispano Suiza and to contact Sergio Martínez Campos, visit www.hispanosuizacars.com.
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