Super-sports-car makers such as Lamborghini sell not just speed but a sensory and emotional experience. Can electric motors — smooth, silent and essentially generic — replicate the raw charisma and unique character of high-performance gasoline engines in their many configurations?
“What’s important is that in the future you will always see an emotional Lamborghini,” said the automaker’s head of design, Mitja Borkert.
He accompanied Lamborghini Americas CEO Andrea Baldi in Toronto recently to show the Tecnica, a new variant of the Huracan priced at $279,630 plus destination fees.
Over the next few years, Baldi said, Lamborghini plans to hybridize the next-generation Huracan and Aventador and the Urus utility vehicle. In 2028, the Italian brand, now part of the Volkswagen Group, will add a fourth model, an electric 2+2 GT.
“Clearly, when it comes to the noise [which] today is a great element, the hybridization will not take away that part,” said Baldi. “We have several years in front of us where the noise will still be there for at least three of our models. It’s one of the features our customers love.
“But also I think our customers are very much looking forward to seeing how Lamborghini will be able to transfer the DNA of a brand like ours into an electric car. So I’m not too concerned about that.”
WON’T LOSE THE LOVE
Baldi spoke of “technical opportunities” to keep some of the “mechanical complexity” in the car that customers love, but he did not elaborate.
Will styling also become an even more important differentiator?
Borkert is adamant that Lamborghini’s consistent design language makes the cars uniquely identifiable and will continue to do so.
He cited the cab-forward silhouette and the way the cabin sides taper toward the centre, the proportions determined by the engine behind the seats.
While powertrain size and position might be different with electrification, the basic shape will remain, Borkert said.
“It’s timeless. Our design DNA is so different to any other brand. We are doing the spaceships, in a way.”
Rather than require new shapes, electrification will let existing shapes and spaces be used in different ways, Borkert said.
“For example, if you don’t have an exhaust pipe, you can use all the space on the rear of the car for smart aerodynamics. If there’s no big gearbox, you can use [that space] for a diffuser that starts earlier.”
MAKING ‘STAR WARS’ CARS
This future technology isn’t something to fear “because it will be also exciting,” Borkert said. “The cars will maybe sound like a spaceship, like a ‘Star Wars’ machine. I’m sure those cars will touch people, just in a different way than the cars touch you today.”
Borkert coming to Canada from Italy for the Tecnica showing was a nod to the importance of the Canadian market. Lamborghini sales reached a record 588 units in pre-pandemic 2019, according to the Automotive News Research & Data Center.
Canada is a mature market with “a particularly interesting concentration of super-sports-car customers, especially in Toronto, that is wealthy and obviously people who can afford anything that is the best,” Borkert said.
“It’s a particularly competitive environment for us, and we like it.”