The eye-catching Lamborghini Asterion LPI 910-4 plug-in hybrid “super cruiser” will never become a production reality, according to the company’s head of research and development Maurizio Reggiani.
In a somewhat confusing interview with Australian media at the 2014 Paris motor show, Reggiani stated that the Italian brand used the car purely as a technological showcase for what it believes is possible, but that Lamborghini has no intention of actually following through with a production version of the Asterion, no matter what the reaction from the media and potential customers.
“We decide not to do,” said Reggiani when asked about the car’s chances of making it to production as a future model line in the Lamborghini portfolio.
“It is only really to investigate the reaction against, or in favour, of plug-in hybrid, and in terms of the design,” he said.
The Asterion LPI 910-4 features the brand’s 5.2-litre V10 petrol engine but teams it with three electric motors, including one for each front wheel, and a bank of batteries that are claimed to allow the car to travel fuel- and emissions-free for 50 kilometres.
Lamborghini claims the car is designed as a “super cruiser”, but still boasts a bewilderingly fast 0-100km/h claim of 3.0 seconds, while fuel use is said to be 4.1 litres per 100km combined despite a power output of 910 horsepower (or 669kW).
The technology was developed in its entirety in-house by Lamborghini, with no assistance from its parent company the Volkswagen Group, according to Reggiani, as a means of showing how a plug-in drivetrain could be used in the Raging Bull brand’s range.
However Reggiani made it clear to the media present at the interview that there were absolutely no plans to offer a new model line to sit alongside the Huracan and Aventador models – neither of which are suitable to adopt a hybrid drivetrain due to potential cooling issues for the electric components in the drivetrain.
“It’s a car more dedicated to cruising. That means comfort, we have improved roominess, we have improved the ergonomics inside the car and it’s clear in terms of shape, in terms of features of the car, we have try to give the best that is possible today. And this demonstrator wants to be like a way to create a reaction from the world external to Lamborghini, and now we will see the reaction,” he said.
Reggiani then went on to suggest the car would not actually lead to a production model.
“At this moment, is no plan to have any kind of additional line,” Reggiani said. “This is really only a technological demonstrator to have your reactions.
“For us this was a technological demonstrator to prove to us what can be a Lamborghini. With a plug-in and to investigate in the world – in the customers, the opinion leader: what is the reaction of the plug-in of Lamborghini with the premises that we use to build this type of concept car,” Reggiani said.
“Nobody out of Lamborghini had seen the car before. That means the reaction will be a pure reaction of today’s feeling of the car,” he said.
Then Reggiani flipped back to the potential for such a production model to come to fruition.
“I think our customer was surprised when we decide to present this, but is also a way that Lamborghini has to approach our customer to gauge a reaction and to see if this can be fitted in to profile or if there can be an additional profile to our portfolio. And this is the main scope of the technological demonstrator. You can have a technological demonstrator in-house to investigate research, but when you decide to put the demonstrator on stage you want to see the opinion of the world. Not just the customer, also of the world,” he said.
“We have really some advanced projects, like Asterion, where we try to explore what can be a new frontier – a big step forward,” he said, but admitted that plug-in hybrid was unlikely to be a part of any mid-term future expansion into the world of partial electrification driven by the ever-tightening CO2 emission regulations in Europe and most other developed nations.
“In this moment … for us it’s something that will be mainly related to the world rule in terms of emissions. That means our vision is clear to … bring emotion to our customers, and at the moment the car that can give a high level of emotion is a naturally aspirated engine with a car that is light, as much as possible.”
Reggiani indicated that development prototypes with hybrid powertrains have been in the works for years, but that the company had no concrete plans to introduce any such hybrid model at this point in time.
Indeed, when asked whether the much lauded Urus SUV project could possibly adopt a plug-in hybrid system such as that seen in the Asterion, Reggiani was almost combative in his response, and left those present thinking that the new SUV may have been axed despite CEO Stephan Winkelmann confirming the new model in 2013.
“I think the concept that is fitted here in the Asterion is a concept we developed trying to maintain our DNA. We choose our V10 naturally aspirated engine… and we coupling to the double-clutch and the plug-in. And I think this is not the best choice if I think to the future of an SUV, in terms of torque, in terms of possibility to use in off-road situations,” he said, seemingly opening the door to a new turbocharged engine that would offer better low-end pulling power rather than the high outright power outputs – at high engine revolutions – that is characteristic of naturally aspirated engines.