Lamborghini plugged in to a hybrid future
As impressive as the performance that a Tesla Model S or Porsche Taycan might offer, those vehicles will never generate the same emotions in some petrolheads as a traditional super sports car. The biggest reason for their disappointment would be the lack of aural pleasure: the soundtrack that is provided by the engine in so many iconic cars.
Lamborghini, like Ferrari, knows that a great deal of its brand ethos relates to the unforgettable sound of a 12-cylinder engine. But it also knows that it has to move with the times and embrace cleaner, more advanced powertrain technologies if it is to survive in the future.
A compromise of both of these seemingly parallel opposites was unveiled at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show. The Lamborghini Sián—not only the fastest vehicle to come out of Sant’Agata Bolognese, but also the first time electric power has been deployed in a vehicle from the Italian auto maker.
“With this car, we set ourselves the challenge of creating the best hybrid solution for a Lamborghini super sports car to provide us with the first step on our electrification strategy,” said Maurizio Reggiani, Chief Technical Officer. “Lamborghini is inherently a rule breaker, a challenger, always pushing what is possible to find a better solution. With the Sián we are defining our route to innovation and we are setting new rules in new technologies, instead of just following existing solutions.”
The aforementioned innovation comes in the form of a supercapacitor in place of the more common lithium-ion battery packs found in the vast majority of hybrids and EVs. Taking inspiration from the unit found in the Aventador—but with ten times the power—the Sián’s supercapacitor is three times more powerful than a battery pack of the same weight and three times lighter than a battery that produces the same power. A 25-kW, 48-V e-motor has been engineered into the gearbox for immediate response and to improve performance. It also powers the Sián when reversing and parking.
That combined power unit works alongside the 6.5-L naturally aspirated V12 and gives a combined output of 819 hp (611 kW), which will propel the car to 62 mph (100 km/h) from a standstill in less than 2.8 s and onto more than 350 km/h (217 mph). The engine on its own has been uprated and produces 785 hp (585 kW) at 8500 rpm.
Aside from the powertrain, Lamborghini has embraced the hybrid ethos with a bespoke regenerative braking system. Differing from a conventional unit that recharges the lithium-ion batteries, the Sián’s technology takes advantage of the symmetric behavior of the supercapacitor, which can be charged and discharged with the same power. That means the Sián’s energy storage system is fully charged every time the vehicle brakes. The energy stored is therefore available on-demand, drawing on the increased torque when accelerating away, up to 130 km/h (80 mph)—the point at which the e-motor automatically disconnects. This configuration improves the elasticity maneuvers and makes it more than 10% faster than a car without this technology.
Then there is a “special peformance” for the finest attention to detail when it comes to production of the car, which is limited to a run of 63 models. Each vehicle will be created with the utmost individuality featuring bespoke leather and paint. The Sián also uses what Lamborghini is calling “unique material science” for the first time, with active cooling vanes on the rear of the car adopting patented technology. Operation of the vanes is triggered by the reaction of smart-material elements to the temperature generated by the exhaust system, which causes them to rotate and cool the powertrain.