Lamborghini R & D Chief on Aventador SVJ, Hybrids, and BDC Win

Opinion


Will there ever be a time when Lamborghini doesn’t sell a car with a V-12? Can Lamborghini be Lamborghini without V-12s?

The next generation of Lamborghini, the successor to the Aventador, will be V-12 naturally aspirated. We can add a hybrid or plug-in to respect all the rules of fuel consumption and emissions.



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The Urus is the first regular production Lamborghini with forced induction. Will we see more Lambos with turbos?

Urus was born with a turbo for one reason: If you want to move a car weighing 2.2 tons on every surface, even if it’s gravel or sand, you need an engine that provides huge torque at 1,500 rpm. Only a turbo can provide this. The decision of using a turbo was based on the mission of the car. Supersports cars don’t have this kind of mission. With engineering, the specification of the product decides—the best practice. Same with the transmission. The Urus has a torque converter that is more smooth for an SUV that does more city driving, and yet it’s still able to have a stiff upshift with the hammer in your back. But we wouldn’t do a torque converter in the Aventador successor.

What else can we expect from the Aventador’s replacement? Still a V-12? Still a single-clutch transmission? More carbon fiber?

Carbon fiber will be one of the most important points to compensate for the weight generated from the auxiliary energy system. We need to use it more intensively and smarter. What is important is to see what are the possible criticisms of the Aventador—the clutch is one. We can see if a double clutch is available. In Strada, maybe [shifting] could be softer. But in Corsa, when you change gears, you need to have that hammer in your back, so the clutch cannot be too soft or smooth. The goal is to be stiff.

What do you think the Aventador’s legacy will be? In hindsight, is there anything you would have done differently?

I think back in 2009, the only change is to put 2 cm more roof to have better ergonomics for tall people like Americans. But in looking at the evolution of the car from 2011 to 2018, the car has continued to grow and be new. The engineering allows us to [evolve] the car and put in more behavior and handling. From a design perspective, it’s still so sexy, everyone still turns and looks. This car was expected to sell 4,000 copies, and we’ve sold more than 8,000. It surprised us.

Do you see a fourth vehicle in the Lamborghini product line?

Part of the strategy of the company is to stabilize the company. We need to make one [product cycle] where the volume of Urus stays constant, rather than a peak and a drop. The big job is to make an average volume of production, to guarantee we have stability inside the company for workload and the security of our employees. Having volume go up and down is a disaster. A fourth product is part of our vision, but before we turn the key, we need to show we can continue to grow. That’s the challenge for the next year. The Urus has been a big success, and it’s sexy, but we need to ensure in two years’ time we have the same volumes in the worldwide market. We cannot be Icarus and fly too close to the sun.



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The 2008 Lamborghini Estoque concept

So which new product areas are you eyeing?

When we did Urus, we were consistent with our history, in which the Espada was a real four-seater. If you also look at our history, we had a proper 2+2, which was the Islero.

In 2010, all the talk at Lamborghini was weight-to-power. Is that still the case?

Weight-to-power ratio is more important than ever. Every customer can perceive 10 kilograms less weight, but only a few people can perceive 10 horsepower more. So carbon fiber will be a key factor for the future. But from the customer’s point of view, you sell horsepower.

How do regulations fit in?

In a short time we must have an anti-particulate filter, and we must reduce the sound of the car—and no customer wants to accept less horsepower. In what way can we compensate to comply with the APF and better sound emissions, and yet make the car sexier than ever before? That is fundamental for the future.

How is leadership of Lamborghini different under Domenicali than it was under longtime boss Winkelmann?

Both are like brothers. I recognize their responsibility to steer the company. I have been lucky to have met them. Both have allowed me to generate these products. It’s a dream for every engineer. If there isn’t trust, there is a problem. When I can describe results to them in active suspension or active aero, you cannot touch it, but we need to spend money on it. So you need to have that trust. And it has meant this great evolution in the supersports car.



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The Hurac n Performante just won Best Driver’s Car. How does that make you feel?

It’s about the organization, how we can put all the performance systems together to make it work like a body, where it’s instinctive, and you don’t have to think. We have this marvelous muscle of the engine, and we’ve made it really athletic in its ability to push the ground with active aero like no other car in the world. It’s like, if you play soccer, if you could change your cleats continuously when the field is wet, or soft, or hard. And you never notice this spontaneous grip.



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