Up-yours cars no more: Lambo boss says it’s more important future supercars get a thumbs up from passers by
Aren’t Lamborghinis the ultimate in up-yours cars? Not according to the boss Stephan Winkelmann. They need to be socially acceptable. The next Lambos will be electrified ahead of when laws demand.
“Our customers know the world we are living in,” he tells TopGear.com. “They need always to get a thumbs up when they pass by in their car. So the worst thing is if you love it but nobody else does. It’s even more important what the non-buyers are saying than what the buyers are saying.”
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So by 2025 Lamborghini’s range will be two plug-in hybrid supercars, a fourth model that’s full-electric, and a full-electric Urus replacement.
We are at a pivot, facing backward as well as forward. The last of the Aventadors, the 600-off Ultimae edition, he says, “sold in the blink of an eye. It surprised us I must say”. It was the end of the pure, naturally-aspirated, non-electrified era.
So isn’t it risky changing the formula? How will Lamborghini bring along its loyal buyers? The Aventador replacement is a V12 plug-in hybrid. “The first thing is to make the hybridisation successful,” he said. “When we get the cars right, it will be. Others are already in the field and collecting enough orders. Our customers have already digested this. The new generation is willing to talk to us only if we are sustainable. They grew up with electrification as a given. The others are following us because they love the brand and they trust we are doing the right thing.
The new generation is willing to talk to us only if we are sustainable
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“And the prerequisite they all want is that the new cars perform better than now. We have to keep that promise.” Oh come on. I just parked an Aventador downstairs from his office. Isn’t that fast enough? “Performance,” he counters, “is still the point. Performance in multiple ways. Not just acceleration. For us hybrid is about performance. But also we will cut emissions.”
Lamborghini plans, via this PHEV technology, to keep engines in its supercars for as long as possible. “Today a full-battery hypercar is not accepted. We know that from the sales figures. Five, six, 10 years down the road, who knows?”
How long internal-combustion survives in Lamborghinis depends, he says, on the legislators and the customers and the technology. Also he ponders whether synthetic fuel will be available and whether it is allowed to be called zero-CO2.
However, “it’s a no-brainer that model number four is full-electric, and also for the follow up to the Urus which is coming after”. He says these are cars people use every day, they’re versatile and do higher mileages than the supercars.
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What stage is the fourth model at? “We have defined what is missing in the lineup of Lamborghini, which was in our heritage. The luxury GT car. It has to have an innovative body style. We are thinking about more ground clearance. We already have the first models.”
Oooh, I interrupt. Earlier today I spent a happy 20 minutes gazing at one of my favourite Lambos in the museum, the Espada. But aren’t GT car sales falling? “It’s a small segment but it’s stable. Bentley does a lot of cars.”
I venture that design will become more important in the electric era. Performance and driving seem to be in danger of getting commoditised, powertrains are more similar. I’m quite encouraged when he bridles at the suggestion that design and branding will dominate over dynamics.
“I hope not. I think that the individualisation of the platform is one of the key elements we have to work on. Lately we’ve driven a lot of electric cars one after the other. People say when you have driven one you have driven them all. In my opinion there are a lot of differences.” You mean a Taycan is not a Tesla? “Exactly. And a Mercedes is different to the Jaguar. We have to get into this, there is enough space.”
So what is the emotion in a Lamborghini? “The acceleration, the lateral acceleration, the handling, the braking and suspension, how you get into and out of the corner. We are ruling out fake sound but we are thinking about sound, how we can elaborate on this.”
Terzo Millennio photography: Philipp Rupprecht