DETROIT--Lamborghini's drivetrain wizards say they have all the horsepower they need for their superfast cars. So from here on, performance gains will come from using lighter materials to reduce vehicle weight, instead of from chasing more engine thrust.
"It has come to the point where acceleration equals consumption," said Stephan Winkelmann, CEO of the Italian automaker. "More consumption means increased CO2 emissions."
Winkelmann, who fears future government regulations could restrict engine performance, said Lamborghini's R&D spending will emphasize taking weight out of vehicles.
The pursuit of top speed is limited by the physics of aerodynamic resistance, Maurizio Reggiani, Lamborghini's R&D chief, said in an interview this month at the Detroit auto show. Once a vehicle reaches 211 mph, there is a declining rate of return for each additional horsepower needed to push the vehicle faster, he said.
Also, there are few places in the world where a driver can go that fast. So Reggiani said Lamborghini will focus on acceleration instead of top speed. The most effective way to do that, he said: take weight out of the car.
"The weight-to-power ratio will be the key factor," Reggiani said. "We will use composite materials in the right place, when it also has the right cost, stiffness and mechanical characteristics."
That could prove to be an expensive solution. Lamborghini has used mostly high-strength steel in its vehicles' structures and body panels. But Reggiani said the automaker will make greater use of aluminum and carbon fiber. … Read more