By Aaron Cole
Lamborghini unveiled Monday its first all-electric sports car concept, the Terzo Millenio, the first indication that the 54-year-old automaker may divorce itself from its signature V-12 powerplant for its halo car in the future.
The Lamborghini Terzo Millenio was unveiled in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and in the automaker’s hometown of Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy. It is the first result of a partnership between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the exclusive carmaker.
It also represents the first solid step toward a future all-electric supercar from Lamborghini, although CEO Stefano Domenicali told journalists in March at the 2017 Geneva motor show that future may be some ways off.
“Electrification is an area of great attention for us, but I‘m not expecting it will happen in the short term,” Domenicali told Reuters. Domenicali also ruled out an all-electric car before 2025.
Trading batteries for supercapacitors and lightweight aluminum with self-healing, energy-storing carbon fiber, the Terzo Millennio is full of pie-in-the-sky technology promises, but its declaration is clear: some future Lamborghinis will run solely on electrons.
According to the automaker, developing supercapacitors may be the key to unlocking rapid charging and discharging cycles for future supercars—perhaps skipping conventional batteries altogether.
Lamborghini is mum about the energy density required from supercapacitors to deliver enough storage to power a car like the Terzo Millennio, but it said that using body panels and other parts of the car to act as improvised energy storage panels may be the key.
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“The new Lamborghini collaboration allows us to be ambitious and think outside the box in designing new materials that answer energy storage challenges for the demands of an electric sport vehicle,” MIT chemistry Professor Mircea Dinca said in a statement.
In addition to energy storing body panels, MIT professors and Lamborghini say that the carbon fiber structure in the Terzo Millennio may be able to identify and “heal” small cracks in its substructure, presumably with liquid-filled micro-channels in its construction. Little cracks can become big cracks, according to the automaker, and a small measure of self-healing can prevent sudden failure—a problem with carbon fiber.
But even Wolverine needs power, too, however, and for that Lamborghini said that the Terzo Millennio is equipped with four electric motors, one at each wheel. All-wheel drive will still be a hallmark with future electric vehicles, Lamborghini said in the statement.
Sooner than we think?
An element of the Terzo Millennio that may not take a generation to develop could be the car’s “Piloted Driving” systems.
So-called “roboracers” aren’t new, but Lamborghini said that its Terzo Millennio could be loaded with an ideal line around a racetrack such as Imola, shuttle its driver around the track first, then act as a virtual ghost car for successive laps.
The technology has appeared in other VW-parent products such as an Audi RS 7 that lapped the Hockenheimring in Germany and an Audi TTS that made an autonomous run up Pikes Peak in the U.S.
Neither car has the same low, menacing profile that the Lamborghini sports, a signal that the automaker’s avant garde shape will continue well into the “third millennium” that the Terzo Millennio purports to herald for the automaker.