The horsepower wars are becoming a little like nuclear proliferation – once you have your stockpile, adding to it just takes a lot of time and money with no real end in sight. Lamborghini has come to the conclusion that between government regulations and the environmental impact of large capacity engines, they have more than enough horsepower in their current arsenal to stay competitive.
Therefore, future performance gains will have to come from weight reduction. But as we all know, using lightweight materials is an expensive proposition. Lamborghini has been going with mostly high strength steel for its frames and body panels and its cars still run well over $200k. Moving forward aluminum and carbon fiber will be more and more commonplace. I wonder if this push may may drive prices up significantly over the short term as we see from vehicles such as the McLaren MP4-12C and Lexus LFA who use exotic composites.
In addition, the company is looking into stop/start technology to help reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions. Lamborghini is hoping a supplier comes along with the right starter and alternator solution for its V10 and V12 engines that can keep up with the faster firing order.
Maurizio Reggiani, head of R&D for Lamborghini, has stated that because top speed is limited by aerodynamic resistance, above 211 mph the rate of return for additional horsepower to push the car faster precipitously declines.
In order to get a glimpse of the future direction of the company, we have to look no further than the Lamborghini Murcielago LP670-4 SV, which gets 30 more horses over the regular Murc but sheds 220 pounds. The horsepower is negligible but the performance gains from the use of carbon fiber is quite noticeable.
It would appear that we are at an important crossroads where performance and eco-friendly motoring are still somewhat mutually exclusive concepts for traditional exotic car manufacturers. There is no doubt that a hybrid Lamborghini powertrain is in the works, but we’re probably looking several years down the line before it makes an appearance in production form. Until then, we will most likely see many different looks as supercar makers tinker with finding the perfect mix between green and mean.