Lamborghini is looking to put its gas engine days in the rear view mirror.
By Jake R. Bright
The Italian carmaker unveiled the stunning Terzo Millenio concept and elevated its partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to create the “super sports car of the future.”
What will signify Lambo’s Third Millennium vehicle? It will be electric, have a body that houses and distributes energy, and meet Lamborghini’s legacy performance and design standards, the company’s Chief Technical Officer (CTO) Maurizio Reggiani explained at an MIT press roundtable.
The future Lamborghini should also allow “customers to enjoy a day at the track―not just one lap―before having to stop and recharge,” he said.
Gazing into Sant'Agata’s crystal ball
Lamborghini’s supercars of tomorrow will incorporate Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to improve driver skills, but don’t expect them to be self-driving. Third generation models may include a “virtual cockpit” to allow a driver to “simulate the real car and circuit” in a stationary position before heading out on the track.
Still, Reggiani ruled out fully autonomous cars as a Terzo Millenio goal. “People don’t normally buy a sports car to have it driven by a computer,” said Riccardo Parenti, the company’s Head of Concept Development.
Lamborghini execs explained that the Third Millennium project with MIT is aimed at looking 10 to 20 years ahead at a performance car of the future, and developing the technology to achieve that vision.
To that objective, Lamborghini unveiled its first Terzo Millenio concept car Monday. The vehicle is weighted heavily on concept given that virtually nothing on it is functional. The idea was to let one forward looking team run with the notion, giving chase to the engineers to make it possible.
“Here we are showing a design and now I am asking the engineers and the students [at MIT] to develop the technology,” explained Lamborghini’s Mitja Borkert, the lead Terzo Millenio concept car designer.
Electric power is the way to move forward
A core part of that tech is the car’s concept power source and powertrain―four electric motors, built into the wheels, doubling as brakes, and powered by supercapacitors and energy storage devices integrated into the body panels.
To achieve this, Lamborghini envisions a car that uses carbon fiber nanotubes and ultra-thin batteries that can be formed into various shapes and position between two panels.
This Lambo can heal itself!
Another Third Millennium concept is development of a self-monitoring and self-healing carbon-fiber body to “detect…damages in its substructure caused by accidents” and begin a “self-repairing process via release of micro-channels filled with healing chemistries" to fix the faulty panel.
Additional Terzo Millenio design points include “an even racier, aerodynamic architecture” afforded by the carbon fiber body, and adoption of Y shaped front and rear lights “that you will see on future Lamborghini’s and will be the signature of Lamborghini,” said Borkert.
To make all this super car magic happen, Lamborghini and MIT are building upon their 2016 partnership, creating two labs―one under Department of Chemistry and the other in the Department of Mechanical Engineering―where teams will develop the technology for Third Millennium cars. “We’ll have three scientists working full time on making these new materials, testing them, and collaborating with Lamborghini,” said MIT Professor Mircea Dinca, who will direct one of the labs.
While any drivable Terzo Millenio Lamborghini is still a ways out, there are a few things we could see in the near future. In addition to Y-shaped lights, Lamborghini expects the MIT collaboration to produce the first functional self-repairing, energy holding composite body components within the next three years, according to Lucino de Oto, Lamborghini’s Advanced Composites Head.
An overarching Terzo Millenio priority, according to Lamborghini execs, is that any electric super cars achieve the same emotional connection and response that Lamborghini owners are accustomed to today.
CTO Maurizio Reggiani noted that could include research on making a full electric future car sound like today’s V12 or V10 machines. An open ended question was if Lamborghini owners of the future―who will be much more accustomed to hybrid and electric vehicles―will still connect emotionally to a V12 sound.
However things pan out, Lamborghini has set up the structure at MIT to explore all this―looking forward, and thinking big―in a futuristic, sci-fi sort of way.