The latest Lotus and Lamborghini models are the last of the gas age
By Peter Valdes-Dapena | CNN
Lamborghini on Wednesday unveiled what will be its last V12-powered supercar that runs on gas only. While there will be more Lamborghini V12 models in the future, they will be plug-in hybrids, the Italian supercar maker said.
Lamborghini, which has been building supercars with large 12-cylinder engines for almost 60 years, is one of several supercar builders, including Ferrari and McLaren, who are creating plug-in hybrid sports cars or fully electric models to meet regulations. increasingly strict on carbon emissions.
On Tuesday, Lotus, the British manufacturer of more affordable sports cars with an exotic look, also unveiled its latest petrol car, the Emira. After that, all future Lotus models will be purely electric, the company said. Lotus is owned by Chinese Geely, which also owns Volvo, another automaker that plans to go all-electric.
Lamborghini’s latest gasoline supercar
The new Lamborghini Aventador LP 780-4 Ultimae is the latest in a series of 12-cylinder Lamborghini supercars dating back to the 1966 Miura, which is widely regarded as the first modern supercar. This was followed by the Countach, which became the prototypical Lamborghini supercar. Its wedge-shaped bodywork has been copied by every Lamborghini sports car since, including the company’s flagship Aventador.
The Aventador LP 780-4 Ultimae combines the general exterior styling of the Aventador S with the mechanical engineering of the more extreme Aventador SVJ. This new model, however, has more power than either. The Ultimae’s V12 engine produces up to 769 horsepower, 10 more than the SVJ and 39 more than the Aventador S.
Like other current Aventador models, the all-wheel-drive Ultimae features four-wheel-drive steering, allowing it to take tighter turns and make lane changes smoother on the highway. The front bumper has been redesigned to provide more downforce to the front wheels of the car for better handling. Only 350 coupe and 250 convertible versions of the Ultimae will be built. Prices for the coupe version will start at around $ 500,000 and for the convertible at just under $ 550,000.
Lamborghini’s other sports car model, the V10-powered Huracán, will remain a gasoline model until 2024, Lamborghini chief executive Stephan Winkelmann said.
The car that ultimately replaces the Aventador will still have a V12 engine, Winkelman said. But it will be assisted by electric motors and batteries that can be plugged in to recharge. Lamborghini previously announced that by the end of 2024 every Lamborghini model will be a plug-in hybrid. These cars will combine powerful batteries and electric motors with an internal combustion engine to deliver the power, lightness and engine sound demanded by supercar buyers, Winkelmann said.
Lamborghini will later offer a fully electric four-seater car and after that Lamborghini’s replacement for the Urus SUV will also be fully electric, he said. The company did not say when it might offer fully electric two-seater sports cars.
Lotus’s all-electric future
When Lotus’ latest gasoline model, the Emira, goes into production next spring, it will be powered by the same Toyota V6 engine that has been used in other Lotus cars, like the Exige and Evora.
A few months later, it will also be produced with a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine manufactured by AMG, the performance division of Mercedes-Benz. The AMG engine, the first to be used in a Lotus car, will be offered with a new dual-clutch automatic transmission similar to those used in racing cars. Dual clutch transmissions can provide faster gear changes and a more direct connection between engine and wheels than a regular automatic transmission.
The engines will produce between 360 and 400 horsepower, but Lotus will not specify which engine is more powerful. Along with the Toyota engine and the manual and automatic transmissions that come with it, the Emira is also a whole new car, said Matt Windle, chief executive of Lotus Cars. Prices for the Emira will start at £ 60,000 in Britain including tax, equivalent to around $ 82,000.
Lotus’ next car after this will be the Evlja, a 1,900 horsepower all-electric supercar that will cost $ 2 million. With its enormous price and power, the Evija is well outside Lotus’ usual market space. Lotus plans to follow suit, however, with more affordable electric sports cars and, for the first time in the brand’s history, practical models like crossover SUVs.
Windle recognized that manufacturing electric sports cars is a challenge due to competing customer demands for range and high performance.
“The thing with sports cars is that people want them to go far, but they also want them to go very fast, very fast,” he said.
Windle had previously left Lotus to work with Tesla to develop the Tesla Roadster, which was based on a Lotus chassis. He joined the British car maker in 2017.
He is convinced that people will appreciate the performance that electric cars can deliver once they feel the instant response of electric motors.
“No one ever said, ‘If only there was an exhaust,’ he said.