Lamborghini Huracan
Lamborghini Huracan can reach speeds of 186mph. The company's SUV will cost the same (Reuters)

First it was Porsche. Then came Aston Martin, BMW, Rolls-Royce and Bentley. Now Italian marque Lamborghini is joining the fast lane of manufacturing sports utility vehicles (SUVs).

The maker of the 186mph Huracan supercar will produce its new model at the Sant'Agata Bolognese plant in Italy, with plans for it to enter the market in 2018.

"This will be a real SUV," said Stephan Winkelmann, Lamborghini chief executive, adding that the car will sell for the price of a Huracan. "It is the fastest-growing segment; it's a very emotional segment and I think it is a very good match for Lamborghini."

He added: "The introduction of a third model ... signifies for us the beginning of a new era."

The luxury carmaker, which is part of the Volkswagen Group, said it would hire 500 new employees, almost double the physical size of its plant in Italy's Emilia Romagna region, and invest "hundreds of millions of euros" in the project over the life-cycle of the vehicle.

"The investment ... is at €700-800m (£500m, £760m) close to a billion," Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said at a ceremony in Rome marking the signing of a letter of intent.

According to Reuters, Lamborghini will mainly target fans of all-wheel-drive vehicles in markets such as the United States, China, the Middle East, the United Kingdom, Germany and Russia.

The carmaker also hopes to expand its customer base to families and other clients new to the high-performance brand.

The SUV could bring "new customers to the brand which may find the dramatic styling of Lamborghini products appealing, but find its typical sports cars restrictive," Ian Fletcher, an analyst at forecaster IHS Automotive, told Reuters.

"If it is a success, the SUV could be a catalyst to Lamborghini broadening its portfolio further."