Car Industry

Lamborghini wants to build cars with carbon-fiber connecting rods

The company's R&D chief claims this technology could be ready as early as 2020 or 2021.

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Lamborghini Sesto Elemento

Lamborghini built just 20 examples of the Sesto Elemento, which translates to "sixth element." The sixth element in the periodic table, as you may have guessed, is carbon.

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When you think of carbon fiber, exterior dressings usually come to mind. This strong, lightweight material has the double benefit of being positively gorgeous, so you often see it used as vehicular window dressing. But Lamborghini wants to take it a step further, putting it somewhere most people won't see it -- the engine.

No, Lamborghini isn't building a whole engine out of carbon fiber, nor is it just adding a bunch of cute parts under the hood. Instead, the company is aiming to be the first automaker to produce a vehicle with carbon-fiber connecting rods, according to Automotive News.

The automaker's R&D chief, Maurizio Reggiani, told the outlet that this technology could arrive as early as 2020 or 2021, when Lamborghini plans on releasing its follow-up to the 12-cylinder Aventador. Development of the part could finish up within the next year or two, and it's taking place at Lambo's new Advanced Composite Structures Laboratory in Seattle.

Connecting rods connect the pistons to the crankshaft. These parts move at incredibly high speeds, operating at high temperatures. The lighter they and other internal components are, the quicker the engine can rev up. That's why carbon fiber is a good choice for con-rod material -- it's light and it's strong.

Lamborghini wouldn't use a traditional method of creating these carbon fiber components, Automotive News points out. Rather, the automaker would use a forged composite, where heat and pressure turn a mass of resin and carbon fibers into a part in just minutes, rather than other methods, which can take hours. This process was the driving force behind the wild Sesto Elemento that the company unveiled in 2011.

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