Lamborghini reveals a shocking new plan for their performance cars

Driving enthusiasts may think the arrival of electric motors is set to dull the excitement of performance cars.

But one man at Lamborghini is determined to ensure that's not the case.

As the chief technical officer for one of the world's most exclusive and evocative car makers, Maurizio Reggiani has a monumental challenge of injecting character into vehicles powered by relatively quiet electric motors. 

Shock of the new

Lamborghini has been comparatively slow to head down the electrified route.

Rivals Porsche, Ferrari and McLaren have all previously sold hybrid hypercars and Mercedes-AMG and Aston Martin are developing them now.

Most brands have given a decent insight into where they're heading with electric propulsion.

The closest Lamborghini has come was the recent Sian hypercar, just 63 of which will be produced for the world.

It's rare Lamborghini details such tech without using it for a mainstream future model, so expect something similar in the upcoming replacement for the Aventador, expected in the next couple of years.

High voltage

Most of the Sian's whopping 602kW of power come from a 6.5-litre V12, but there's also a 25kW electric motor that can propel the car to 130km/h and boost the outright acceleration.

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Instead of a traditional battery, the electrical energy is stored in supercapacitors, which Reggiani says will play a key role in future Lamborghini hybrid models.

"For us the supercapacitor is really the right device for a supersports car," he says. "It can be lighter, you can charge and discharge several times without any deterioration of the performance … efficiency is really high."

He also says supercapacitors require less cooling than batteries, further reducing the weight of ancillary items such as radiators.

Keeping the weight down is crucial in supercars, something Reggiani has invested big bucks into.

Doubling up

In developing the electric strategy Reggiani turned to a handful of universities around the world, challenging them to rethink how future fast motoring could be done.

They include Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Washington State, which were instrumental in helping Lamborghini consider new approaches to energy storage and electric power delivery.

Lamborghini wants to use the carbon fibre structure as a battery, for example, something the brand believes can be achieved.

"It is a possibility to use structure carbon fibre like a battery, a means of storing energy, using nano technology where we try to have inside the fibre of the carbon fibre a nano tube that (has an) anode and cathode," he says.

"In this way you can use a big part of your body structure or body panel like storage of energy without the increase of weight or without the increase of complexity."

Educated thinking

Most car makers like developing their future technologies in-house, in turn challenging engineers and keeping developments within the family.

But Reggiani appreciates the different approach by university students, many of whom may be younger than the engineers working for a vehicle manufacturer.

"We [vehicle engineers] are much more obliged to follow rules, to follow the status quo," he says of working for Lamborghini, which is part of the Volkswagen Group.

"People who are not contaminated from the factory … they have more freedom, they can be much more creative. They think outside the box. I am obliged to think inside the box."

Listen up

The next challenge for Lamborghini is the sound of an electric or hybrid car, something Reggiani wants to tackle differently.

Lamborghini's current sports car range is made up of V10 and V12 engines that are known for a rousing note.

Reggiani plans to create authentic sounds that scream Lamborghini.

"What's important is to create something that when you hear the car arriving you can recognise it as a Lamborghini without looking at the badge."

A new noise

And, again, it's universities being challenged to rethink the technology.

"We have launched several studies in some universities where we asked them to define the future sound of electric Lamborghini," says Reggiani. While not naming the unis, he says one is in the US and the other in Italy.

"On this we have already received several ideas and now we need what can be perfectly aligned with our DNA."

Sound from thin air

Reggiani says the movement of air over the car creates friction, something that can be used to generate sound, in much the same way as many musical instruments.

"We need to think, we need to identify what is the right sound," he says. "The physics give us so many opportunities in terms of generation of sound."

However, Reggiani is adamant the sound can't be artificial, such as those produced by speakers in cars from manufacturers such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Ford and others.

 "We need to invent a sound that is a natural sound." 

V12 to stay

Not that Reggiani wants to drop the V12 engine: he sees it as a crucial part of the Lamborghini DNA.

But tighter regulations and increasing efficiency makes it more difficult for big engines with a dozen cylinders.

It's those challenges he says keeps his engineering team – and those universities – motivated.

He points to previous challenges with emissions regulations that have ultimately led to innovative solutions.

"At the end, it is clear that every new obstacle created generated creativity in engineering. Every challenge is a provocation … for me and my team, new challenges are no problem."

Electric to balance petrol

He also says electric motors can complement petrol engines, including a V12.

"Many of the electric horsepower are used in a condition where normally … you need more torque."

He says big power gains – including cars pushing to 1000 horsepower and beyond – will come from electric motors.

"The big extension will come from electrification, also because electrification in terms of energy is much more easy to use."

All of which points towards an exciting – and noisy – future for Lamborghini.

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