Lamborghini to offer full-hybrid lineup by 2024, pure EV coming
Lamborghini has been slow to embrace electrification, but now the raging bull is charging in a big way.
Tim StevensFormer editor at large for CNET Cars
Tim Stevens got his start writing professionally while still in school in the mid '90s, and since then has covered topics ranging from business process management to video game development to automotive technology.
"Lamborghini is not going to change the environment of this world, but social acceptance is starting when you look in the morning into the mirror and you see your face." This is a heavy statement, and a remarkably self-aware one coming from the CEO of Lamborghini. But then this CEO, Stephan Winkelmann, has had an unusual term that's given him a little extra perspective.
Winkelmann first took the Lamborghini helm back in 2005 and ran the company for 11 years. He stepped away to do some Audi things in 2016 and then took over the CEO role at Bugatti in 2018. Late last year, he came back to Lamborghini, back to a historic brand seemingly intent on injecting as much technology and cutting-edge design into its cars as possible.
"How can we bring the company to the next level?" was his challenge, and his answer is to cut emissions by 50% by 2025. I confess that might not be where my mind would have gone when pondering a "next level" Lamborghini, but then engineers do find a way of crafting some of their finest work when given unusual challenges.
"The goal of reducing [emissions] for us is even more difficult because we are a super-sports car company," Winkelmann told me in an interview earlier this month, "and it's not just about reducing but also maintaining the performance, maintaining the dream. ... It means changing everything, but not changing anything."
Lamborghinis are known for big speed, but big presence is just as important. Jibing that with a silent, efficient, all-electric powertrain is a difficult task, one that Winkelmann is nevertheless charging his company with.
Though he declined to share many details with me, Winkelmann confirmed that Lamborghini will introduce an all-electric mode, the company's first pure EV and what will be the fourth regular-production model in its lineup. Something that, presumably, will be capable of surviving the 'Ring.
"It will be a four-seater," he said. "So it will not be the typical Huracan or Aventador. It will be something that is more available for a daily drive." My mind immediately went to the J1 platform shared by the Porsche Taycan and the Audi E-Tron GT, but Winkelmann told me the platform is not yet decided. "[We] still need to see the body style, the size of the car, two or four doors, etc." That car, sadly, won't hit the streets until sometime after 2025.
A Lamborghini EV is a fascinating concept, but the changes won't stop there. The company's other three models -- right now filled by Aventador, Huracan and Urus -- will all feature hybrid drivetrains by 2024. And not just any hybrid, but plug-ins, presumably delivering some degree of pure-electric, emissions-free driving.
And what about that thirsty Aventador SVJ you just planted in your garage? Is that destined for obsolescence? Lamborghini is working on solutions there, too, investigating the same sorts of e-fuels that Porsche says will save the day for adherents of the church of internal combustion.
But isn't this all just an eco-friendly PR song and dance? A red-blooded company making a show of saving the environment at the cost of killing the evocative nature of its cars? Winkelmann is adamant that is not the case, that these technologies will genuinely improve the machines they put on the road. "They have to be better than the cars of today," he said. "In terms of what I know from our customers, and what I see how they behave in front of their competitors, hybridization is very accepted. Full electric cars in terms of super-sports cars is not."
Clearing that hurdle could be Winkelmann's greatest challenge of all.