V12 + Green: Plug-in Hybrids to Succeed Lamborghini's Aventador and Huracan

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Lamborghini has talked a lot about electrification over the last few years, remaining careful never to commit to anything. While meager production rates seriously limit the environmental impact of its vehicles, the Italian automaker is nonetheless subject to the same pressure to go green as larger brands. Almost a decade ago, the brand vowed to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions of its vehicles by roughly one third while simultaneously covering the factory roof with solar panels. It later hinted it might implement widespread turbocharging, much like Ferrari, or go the electrification route.

The greenwashing trend continues today, likely encouraged by Lamborghini’s suddenly eco-conscious parent, Volkswagen. Facing an important crossroad, and surrounded by regulatory and environmental pressures, the company has chosen its path. While Lamborghini’s Stefano Domenicali still seems gently apprehensive, the CEO claims plug-in hybrids will be the best way forward for the brand.

In a recent interview with Automotive News, Domenicali explained the firm’s vision for the near term. He said Urus will be an important model, but noted there were fears that Lamborghini won’t be able to meet demand, specifically since shoppers will be less interested in waiting for one in the same way they would for an Aventador. There was also some sales talk — most of it revolving around how Lamborghini expects to break last year’s sales record by a wide margin, thanks again to the Urus. But the most interesting aspect involved the automaker’s engines after 2021.

After being asked if Lamborghini might consider a 2+2 GT model, Domenicali said the brand was hard at work on something that combined “high performance with interior space and driving comfort in a package that, design wise, should be striking as well as highly efficient in terms of aerodynamics” after 2025. While it could appear in electric form, the CEO claimed such a model would only exist alongside a high-performance plug-in hybrid.

“Our final decision should combine what Volkswagen Group could offer in terms of available technology with what Lamborghini customers are asking for,” Domenicali elaborated. “This is the most difficult decision we have to take at Lamborghini and, luckily, we still have time to ponder all the available options. As of today, we do not hear that Lamborghini customers are asking for a battery-powered model, but maybe in seven to nine years they will be — and we should be ready.”

When asked for a more concrete timeline, Domenicali was surprisingly forward.

“Probably around 2021, with the Aventador replacement that will add [an electric] motor to its V12 engine,” the CEO said. “The same will happen later also on the V10 family, when we replace the Huracan. A plug-in model is the only way to maintain performance and keep Lamborghini’s engine sound while also reducing emissions.”

While turbocharging would have worked, Lamborghini has been clear in its fears that the setup could hamper engineers’ ability to coax out a desirable exhaust note. Ferrari managed to pull it off; the rest of the industry yielded spottier results. Lamborghini also wants to keep its larger engines in use for as long as possible, previously noting that electrification offers an interesting solution that can elevate a vehicle’s overall performance.

Meanwhile, the brand still seems adverse to building an all-electric vehicle. Last year, Lambo said it doesn’t envision anything in its lineup that doesn’t burn gasoline until at least 2025. “Electrification is an area of great attention for us, but I’m not expecting it will happen in the short term,” Domenicali explained at the time.

Of course, that claim was followed by the all-electric Lamborghini Terzo Millennio concept a few months later. However, that model was really more of a rolling art piece emphasizing future design and what might be possible via electrification than a blueprint for the company’s next supercar. For now, hybridization is as far as Lamborghini seems willing to go.

[Images: Lamborghini]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Stingray65 Stingray65 on Nov 21, 2018

    Lets see - the average Lambo gets driven 1,000 miles per year, and at 10 mpg that means it burns 100 gallons. At $3 per gallon that adds up to $300 per year in fuel costs. If we assume that the hybrid version costs $5,000 extra and doubles fuel economy to 20 mpg, that means it will only take about 35 years to pay off - but think of all the polar bears that will be saved.

    • See 6 previous
    • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Nov 23, 2018

      @mcs Not sure the 2 makes are cross shopped.

  • IBx1 IBx1 on Nov 26, 2018

    The bull is now chuck roast.

  • 3-On-The-Tree Lou_BCsame here I grew up on 2-stroke dirt bikes had a 1985 Yamaha IT200 2-strokes then a 1977 Suzuki GT750 2-stroke 750 streetike fast forward to 2002 as a young flight school Lieutenant I bought a 2002 suzuki Hayabusa 1300 up in Huntsville Alabama. Still have that bike.
  • Milton Rented one for about a month. Very solid EV. Not as fun as my Polestar, but for a go to family car, solid. Practical EV ownership is only made possible with a home charger.
  • J Love mine, but the steering wheel blocks dashboard a bit, can't see turn signals nor headlights icons. They could use the upper corners of the screen for the turn signals. Mileage is much lower than shown too, disappointing
  • Aja8888 NO!
  • OrpheusSail I once did. My first four cars were American made, and through an odd set of circumstances surrounding a divorce, I wound up with a '95 Nissan Maxima which was fourteen years old and had about 150,000 miles on it.It was drove better, had an amazing engine, and was more reliable than any of my American cars. This included a new '95 GMC pickup that went through five alternators in under two years while the dealership insisted that there was no underlying electrical problem while they tried to run the clock on the warranty.That was the end of 'buy American'. I've bought from Honda and VW since, and I'll consider just about anything except American now.