Lamborghini is gearing up to launch the long-awaited replacement for the Aventador in 2022 – and the new V12 supercar will, unlike its predecessor, feature a hybrid powertrain as one of the first steps the brand is taking to ‘reinvent’ itself for the electric age.
The new flagship machine from the Sant’Agata manufacturer is due to be revealed this year and will go on sale shortly after the arrival of a plug-in hybrid version of the Urus SUV. It is set to be the final series-production Lamborghini supercar to use the firm’s fabled 6.5-litre V12, with the subsequent generation likely to adopt electric power.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Lamborghini posted the second-best financial results in its history in 2020 and company boss Stephan Winkelmann, who recently rejoined Lamborghini after spells at Audi Sport and Bugatti, told Automotive Daily that 2021 is a “moment of stabilisation” before it “starts pushing for the next level” in 2022.
Beyond that, Winkelmann said a key priority is to develop “a clear vision” of what electrification means for the brand.
“We have to do this so that we remain Lamborghini by reinventing Lamborghini – to change everything not to change anything,” he said.
Aventador successor to feature Sián hybrid tech
Winkelmann said the initial focus this year is the market launch of the Huracán Super Trofeo Omologato, but he hinted that two new V12 machines will be revealed in 2021.
Although Winkelmann would not be drawn on specific details about these models, sources suggest one is a final Aventador-based special using similar supercapacitor technology to the 603kW Sián FKP 37 hypercar – and it is possible that the other will be the first glimpse at the Aventador’s replacement.
The next-generation V12 flagship has been delayed several times, in part because of the impact of the coronavirus but mainly because of Lamborghini’s push to develop hybrid technology that will suit the needs and character of its supercar.
“The challenge is how to match the requests of the legislators while not diluting the expectations of customers in the coming years,” said Winkelmann. “This is what we are working on right now.”
Lamborghini technical boss Maurizio Reggiani has previously confirmed that the Aventador successor will retain a naturally aspirated V12, with a hybrid element used to add extra power and efficiency and forego the need for a turbocharger. Reggiani also hinted that the firm was considering a four-wheel drive system similar to the Ferrari SF90’s, with the V12 driving the rear axle and an electric motor on the front wheels and torque vectoring used to balance the power.
The extra weight of an expansive hybrid system and its resulting impact on a supercar’s performance remains a concern for Lamborghini and it is thought the firm is working on a system pairing a lithium ion battery with a supercapacitor for boosting.
Lamborghini has invested heavily in its supercapacitor technology, developed in conjunction with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as it seeks to maintain the character of its supercars while meeting increasingly tough emissions legislation.
In the Sián, the V12 is tuned for 577kW, with the supercapacitor, which is built into the gearbox, able to deliver an extra 24kW. The system weighs 34kg, considerably less than that of a traditional hybrid. However, although a supercapacitor can store more power than a comparably sized lithium ion battery, it is only designed to rapidly charge and discharge power, making it unable to offer electric-only running and limiting its effectiveness at reducing emissions.
Winkelmann said: “The Sián is a success story, because we understood you have to sell electrification by giving a benefit to the owners of supersports cars.” He added that “this approach is just a small step into what we’re going to do in the future”.
Although exact technical details of the next-generation model have not been disclosed, it is likely to offer something close to the 603kW output of the Sián powertrain.
Lamborghini finalising electric strategy
As well as the Aventador replacement and updated Urus, Lamborghini will replace the V10 Huracán, probably in 2024 or 2025. Beyond that, the focus is on the brand’s future strategy, with emissions legislation pushing car firms to become electric only.
Winkelmann told Automotive Daily: “My biggest challenge is to have a clear strategy for what is happening after 2030, to follow up the next generation – not only in terms of product but to have a clear vision of what this means for the brand. The first step is what this means until 2030.
“Without doubt, the legislation part will tell us what we cannot do any more. The door will be very tight and there will be a bottleneck we have to pass.”
Asked about a fully electric Lamborghini, Winkelmann said the firm is currently “finalising its plans”. He added: “It’s not only what we talk about. It’s walking the walk that is the tough thing, so we are looking into the financial situation to see year on year what we are able to do. It’s clear I can have a dream, but it must be a real one.”
The UK, Lamborghini’s fifth-largest market, is set to introduce a ban on non-zero-emission new cars in 2030. When asked about how that could affect the brand, Winkelmann said: “The UK is one of our top markets, so taking care of legislation is paramount for making success in the future. If we fail, we are out of business, because we need to do a super-sports car in line with the legislation, and also in line with the expectations of the customer. That’s not always the same, but we have to match these two things, and we are expecting this challenge.”
As previously reported by Automotive Daily, Lamborghini has been considering adding a 2+2 grand tourer as a fourth model line and could make that model electric only.
Winkelmann said his “focus is on the existing models and their next generation” but added that “given our success and the analysis of the market, a fourth model is something that, in my opinion, is very possible for a brand like ours”.
Q&A Stephan Winkelmann, Lamborghini CEO
Is it good to be back at Lamborghini?
“It’s very good to be back. My reception was incredible: I had standing ovations when I came into the factory. It was very emotional. But this is the first day – then you have to get back to reality.”
To what do you attribute the firm’s 2020 success?
“One is the fact we are very resilient to crisis. The brand is very strong and has a perfect image. The products are incredibly strong. If you look at the stock market, it came back pretty soon, which is a good sign for the economy.
“People also wanted to reward themselves for what they are losing in terms of time being locked up, so to say.”
What is the situation looking like for 2021?
“By the end of 2020, we already had sold out production for the first nine months of this year, and the order intake in January and February and deliveries to customers are higher than the same months last year – which was pre-Covid.”
How will you balance your time between Lamborghini and Bugatti?
“I’m busy! Technology is helping: since the pandemic, I’m becoming an expert at online meetings. I’m doing three-quarters of the time in Italy and one-quarter in France. Covid is not helping the travel. I’m changing my plans constantly.”
Are you the only direct link between the two brands?
“Today, I am the synergy, but maybe tomorrow there will be some other one. This can be helpful and fruitful for both companies. It would be limited, but if it helps, I will do it.”
What is Bugatti’s future now?
Volkswagen Group boss Herbert Diess has confirmed plans to spin off Bugatti into a joint venture between Porsche and EV specialist Rimac – but he has denied reports that it could sell the brand outright.
There had been reports that the German giant would sell a controlling interest in the French hypercar maker to Rimac as part of a financial deal that involved Porsche increasing its investment in the Croatian firm. Porsche recently increased its stake in Rimac from 15.5% to 24% in a deal worth £60.4 million (circa AUD$109 million).
Diess said responsibility for Bugatti is currently being transferred to Porsche, which will then discuss a possible joint venture with Rimac. Stephan Winkelmann remains in charge of Bugatti, alongside his new role at Lamborghini.
“Transferring [Bugatti] to Rimac isn’t true,” said Diess. “Porsche is currently preparing a partnership that’s going to be under discussion with Rimac, and Porsche will be taking care of that.
“The whole thing isn’t yet finalised. What we want to do is transition responsibility of Bugatti to Porsche, and Porsche in all probability will establish a joint venture with Rimac, with a minority share of Porsche.”
It’s not clear whether any potential Bugatti joint venture would involve Porsche and Rimac taking an equal share.
Speaking before Diess confirmed the joint venture, Winkelmann told Automotive Daily that plans for Bugatti to add an electric vehicle as a second model line had been put on indefinite hold.
He said: “The idea was solid and we had a business case, but then came Covid, so at the start of last year we stopped the approach and analysis of the second model. We don’t rewind or have anything in the plans, which is a pity because I’m sure this could be a success.”