Lambo’s late to the party, but expect it to arrive guns blazin’

Just as the entire supercar world found itself drawn into the world of hybridization, Lamborghini has steadfastly stood its ground, showing unfailing commitment to its yoke of naturally aspirated V-10 and V-12 engines. That’s all about to change, though, now that the higher-ups at Sant’Agata Bolognese have confirmed plans to launch its first-ever plug-in hybrid hypercar. Don’t look now, but the latest intel surrounding this upcoming model has ties to both the Aventador and the Terzo Millennio Concept that Lambo proudly showed off back in 2017. What does the Italian automaker have in store for the rest of the hypercar world? A game-changer of unworldly proportions.

1,100 Horsepower and Terzo Millennio DNA - Good Things Always Come to Those Who Wait

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How is it that a performance car brand as universally revered and admired as Lamborghini still has no hybrid hypercar in its lineup even as some of its fiercest rivals — hello, Ferrari and McLaren — released their first hybrid hypercars six years ago? You could chalk it up to indifference, stubbornness, capacity, or a combination of all these things. When all of Lamborghini’s rivals were developing their hypercars, Lambo chose to sit out, presumably assuming that a hybrid performance car was a fad that would eventually die down.

But, it didn’t. Ferrari, McLaren, and Porsche got the ball rolling early with the LaFerrari, P1, and 918 Spyder, respectively. Aston Martin and Mercedes-AMG joined the fray later on with the Valkyrie and the ONE.

The “fad” that Lamborghini thought wouldn’t last beyond a cup of coffee instead exploded into a muscle-flexing, technological arms race among some the most prominent performance car brands in the world.

It took a while for Lamborghini to come to terms with it, but with hybrid technology pointing the way to a more sustainable future, Lambo finally relented as news started to spread that the decision makers over at Sant’Agata Bolognese have agreed to not only develop a hybrid hypercar but to also give it one of its biggest platforms: as the official replacement of the brand’s current standard-bearer, the almighty Aventador.

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Granted, Lamborghini hasn’t come out and confirmed — it hasn’t denied it, either — its grand hypercar plans, but there is smoke coming out of company HQ, and where there’s smoke, fire traditionally follows.

Back in June 2018, for example, came reports that Lamborghini had started showing off its next hypercar in a number of closed-door events for its go-to customers.

Though it wasn’t clearly established, the said hypercar was not only billed as the next-big-thing to come out of Lamborghini, but it was also billed as a hybrid or at least one that used a hybrid powertrain. Oh, and it supposedly looked like the Terzo Millennio, Lamborghini’s unapologetically mental concept vehicle it unveiled back in 2017.

Earlier this year, Lamborghini’s Research and Development Director Maurizio Reggiani added more fuel to the fire, telling Motor Authority that a hybrid hypercar is part of Lamborghini’s future, and that the model will likely arrive once the Aventador’s run concludes. “With the new Aventador, we must decide what will be the future of the super sports car in terms of electric contribution,” Reggiani said. “What way to manage the weight coming from electrification, and to be able to guarantee every way to have the DNA of a super sports car.”

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If it sounds like Lamborghini has some issues to sort out before we see its hybrid hypercar, it’s because the automaker does have some problems to sort out before we see its hybrid hypercar.

Chief among these issues is what Reggiani touched on: weight.

In its current iteration, the Aventador tips the scales at a little over 4,000 pounds. It’s heavier than the McLaren P1 (3,411 pounds), the Ferrari LaFerrari (3,495 pounds), and the Porsche 918 Spyder (3,700 pounds). For what it’s worth, the Aventador also checks in a number of weight classes above the Aston Martin Valkyrie (2,400 pounds) and the Mercedes-AMG ONE (2,700 pounds). Lamborghini’s issues with the Aventador’s weight could be a problem when it comes time to developing its hypercar, especially when the added weight of electric components and battery packs come into the equation.

Fortunately, it does appear that Lamborghini has been working on a few possible solutions, including the use of lightweight composites that the automaker previewed in the Terzo Millennio Concept. Considering that the concept was made from what Lamborghini described as “lightweight composites,” it could have some new technology to work on and possibly use when it comes time to develop its hypercar. The composites themselves aren’t made from carbon fiber, but, rather, a nanomaterial construction that actually acts as an energy storage system, keeping the electricity flowing while also providing the structure and body of the car. Could this new technology be the dietary key for Lamborghini’s future hybrid car? At this point, only Lamborghini can say if it is, though the important thing is the idea is there, even if it’s coated in concept car vernacular mumbo jumbo. Lamborghini has to start somewhere, and for an automaker’s that famous for being in the cutting edge of technological development, it’s not in any of our place to worry about Lambo’s plans for its future hypercar.

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What should be of concern — for the automaker and, for us, as well — is the current state of the Aventador. While it’s true that Lambo has done a tremendous job keeping the supercar up-to-date with fresh technologies and power and performance bumps galore, the truth remains inescapable.

The Aventador is eight years old, having started its run all the way back in the far simpler era of 2011.

Judging by the life cycles of some of the Aventador’s recent predecessors — the Diablo, Murcielago, and Gallardo all had 9- to 11-year shelf lives — the Aventador’s time as Lamborghini’s flagship carrier is nearing its nadir. Lamborghini hasn’t shied away from it, either, particularly in terms of discussing what the future holds once the Aventador hangs it up for good. The new report from CAR Magazine puts a lot of the onus on the upcoming hypercar to become the Aventador’s successor. Think about it, too, and it makes a lot of sense, especially with the direction that the automaker plans to take for its future.

No less than CEO Stefano Domenicali himself confirmed at last year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed that the automaker’s vaunted V-12 engine will remain at the heart of future Lamborghini models, even if it’s accompanied by electric motors to form a hybrid component. That setup appears to be set in stone, though the report from CAR claims that Lamborghini’s hybrid powertrain will include a pair of electric motors in the front, a modified version of the automaker’s naturally aspirated V-12 engine at the back, and a third electric motor that will also be located in the rear section of the model. Batteries will also run down the middle of the car to keep its weight and balance in check while a dual-clutch transmission will be in charge of sending all the power generated by the hybrid powertrain to all four wheels of the hypercar.

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Speaking of which, the amount of power Lambo’s hypercar is projected to have remains fluid.

Lamborghini hasn’t thrown out a number yet, but reports indicate that the electric motors will be responsible for around 400 horsepower by themselves. Supposing Lambo decides to use the current 700-horsepower iteration — it won’t — of the 6.5-liter V-12 engine that’s powering the current Aventador, we could be looking at a combined output of around 1,100 horsepower.

Obviously, that figure is going to change. It will change once Lamborghini has properly identified the kind of hybrid setup it wants to use on the hypercar. The output could be fewer than 1,100 ponies, but it could also be more. Much more. That’s what’s so exciting about this development. You don’t know what to expect from Lamborghini. You just expect something awesome and game-changing. Where Lambo goes from there is entirely up to what it wants to pursue.

This, in a nutshell, is what we have to deal with until we get more information about the promised hypercar. Lamborghini has all the cards at the moment. It can take its time developing the model, knowing that it could probably squeeze a few more years out of the Aventador. But that game plan also comes with its own set of risks, not the least of which is the possibility that it could get further left behind by the rapid evolution of hybrid and electrification technologies in the industry. As it is, the plan is to have the debut model by 2022, which isn’t that long for us — we can wait three years — but it’s an eternity in this dog-eat-dog business.

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Hopefully, we receive more clarity regarding Lamborghini’s future hypercar slayer in the near future. It’s high time that the Italian automaker joins the hypercar wars, and while some people might think it’s already late in the game for the Raging Bull to turn the growing segment over its head, don’t count out Lamborghini just yet. We saw with the Terzo Millennio Concept what the automaker is capable of. Now that the pieces are falling into place, don’t sleep on the possibility that the concept version comes to life as a production model in the near future, armed with all the latest in Lambo tech, including the gnarliest and most powerful hybrid engine setup the industry has ever seen.

Further reading

Lamborghini is Skeptical About Battery-Powered Supercars
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Read our full speculative review on the 2019 Lamborghini LB48H Hybrid Supercar.

Lamborghini Doesn't Have a Plug-in Hybrid Supercar Yet and There's a Damn Good Reason Why Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2017 Lamborghini Terzo Millennio Concept.

2018 Lamborghini Aventador S High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Lamborghini Aventador S.

Source: Car Magazine

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