V12 + Green: Plug-in Hybrids to Succeed Lamborghini's Aventador and Huracan
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.
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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.
The bull is now chuck roast.