Lamborghini has outlined plans for its powertrain line-up, confirming its first plug-in hybrid will arrive in 2020, while the brand seeks to maintain its naturally aspirated V12 engine for as long as possible.
The CEO of Lamborghini, Stefano Domenicali, confirmed to CarAdvice at the Geneva motor show this week that the first plug-in hybrid from Lamborghini will be the second powertrain of the upcoming 2018 Urus SUV, set to be released in 2020.
Power and economy figures remain unconfirmed, however it shows a shift in Lamborghini’s approach to powertrains, which to date have remained naturally-aspirated in the modern era.
“[Urus hybrid is] already decided.” Domenicali told CarAdvice.
“It’s the correct approach. On the other hand, short term, we do believe that the potential of our actual [naturally-aspirated] powertrains is still very strong and very valuable. The more you go ahead with the electrification, the more you see that the market for our, for example, V12, is very, very high.”
So whilst the Urus will pioneer the first hybrid for the raging bull, the Aventador and its replacement will remain naturally aspirated for as long as possible. Even so, there will come a time when Lamborghini will have to ditch naturally-aspirated engines, potentially bridging the gap to electrification with turbochargers.
“We cannot hide behind the fact that we want to stay with traditional [naturally aspirated] powertrains, but we need to be sure that we can switch to new technologies as soon as they are viable in terms of economics, which today it’s not. People that are saying that they are making money with electrification, it’s lies. Today the cost of those investments is high.”
Most importantly for Lamborghini, the naturally aspirated engine is part of its emotion appeal. The sound, the character, is not something that Domenicali believes can be easily replaced with a hybrid setup
“Our characteristic of the car, the DNA of the car, the dynamic of the car the centre of gravity, the emotion… we cannot do what we are doing so far with a PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle), in the future we may see, but I don’t suspect we will see before 2025-2028. We are selling emotion, we are not selling only cars.”
However, while that remains more than a decade away, Lamborghini may look to other ideas - such as turbocharging its smaller V10 engine.
“Possibly, possibly yes, [but] not with all the models that we have. We may decide very soon what may be the future of the V10 as the first choice, but we want to keep the V12 [naturally aspirated] for as long as possible, because apparently we would be the only one focused on it in the future.
"We do believe there is still a lot of potential with this car, but of course, with the V10, we have to ask ourselves the question - what will be the next generation? Whether that’s electric boost or turbo… we need to see what is the request from the market.”
With the shift by Ferrari, Aston Martin, McLaren and Porsche to turbocharged powertrains, Lamborghini (and Audi with the V10 R8) remain the only manufacturers of solely naturally-aspirated supercars. As for how long that remains the case, that remains a mystery.