End of an era: Lamborghini goes hybrid…and very fast

Mar 29, 2023, 3:03 PM

Luxury Italian sports car designer Lamborghini has unveiled its first supercar with a charging port...

Luxury Italian sports car designer Lamborghini has unveiled its first supercar with a charging port. Mandatory Credit: Lamborghini

Closing out a half century of purely gasoline-powered V12 cars going back to the brand’s earliest models, Luxury Italian sports car designer Lamborghini has unveiled its first supercar with a charging port.

The Lamborghini Revuelto is a plug-in hybrid and, while it still has a V12 gasoline engine, it also has three electric motors. Together — the car’s Spanish name translates as “scrambled” — the two systems can produce a total 1,001 horsepower, according to the automaker.

The car, whose price is as yet undisclosed, will offer driving sensations ranging from loud and viciously punchy to smooth and silent. There’s a menu of 13 different drive modes altogether. Front-wheel-drive low-speed cruising will be fully electric, while high-powered aggressive track driving will employ all available power from the V12 engine and the electric motors.

The automaker, founded in Sant’Agata Bolognese Italy in 1963 and still headquartered there, is not resting on its laurels: Everything in this car is new, including the gas engine which was developed specifically for this new car, Lamborghini said in its announcement.

Even the engine’s orientation within the car is different. In past Lamborghini V12 models, starting with the Countach, the engine’s power was sent toward the front of the cars and the transmission was between the two seats. From there, engine power was rerouted through spinning driveshafts to the back wheels or, in many newer models, to all four wheels.

In the Revuelto, the engine points towards the back to make room for battery packs. This unusual arrangement solves a puzzle: allowing the car, despite the addition of heavy batteries, to maintain ideal weight distribution with 44% of the car’s weight on the front wheels and 56% on on the back. The gasoline engine’s power, along with power from one electric motor, goes only to the Revuelto’s back wheels through an eight-speed transmission.

Two more electric motors power each of the car’s front wheels, providing all-wheel-drive. The front wheels’ two independent motors also enable “torque vectoring,” with differing amounts of power being sent to each front wheel as needed for optimal cornering and traction.

The Reveulto’s batteries can be charged through a plug, like an electric car, providing a certain amount of purely electric driving. However, Lamborghini did not say how long the car could drive on battery power alone.

Once the batteries no longer have enough power to drive the car on purely electric power, it will operate like a standard hybrid, switching between electric and gasoline power — or a combination of the two — as needed.

The batteries can also be recharged when braking or by taking some power from the gasoline engine at times.

To save weight, the car’s body is made largely from carbon fiber although rear structures are made from aluminum alloys. The new V12 engine is also slightly lighter — by 37.5 pounds — than the engine in the Aventador supercar it’s replacing.

The plug-in replacement for Lamborghini’s other, less expensive supercar, the V10 powered Huracán, will be revealed later. Lamborghini’s SUV, the Urus, will also become a plug-in hybrid but, unlike the supercars, will not be replaced with an entirely new mode.

Lamborghini has not yet announced the price of the Revuelto but all these new plug-in hybrid models will cost significantly more than the models they replace, said CEO Stephan Winkelmann. Prices for the Lamborghini Aventador, the brands last V12 model, started at around half a million dollars.

Once both the V12 Revuelto and the V10 Huracan replacement go into production they will be built on the same assembly line at Lamborghini’s headquarters, Winkelmann said. Today, those two models are built on separate production lines inside the same factory building.

The new supercars will also share more parts wtth one another than they do today. Still, the sharing of parts and production lines will do little to offset the increased cost of the shift to plugin hybrid power, he said.

The Urus SUV, which is produced in much higher volumes than the supercars, will continue to be built in a separate factory.

The floor space freed up by putting the plug-in hybrid supercars onto a single assembly line could be used to build Lamborghini’s next new model, a full electric car expected to be unveiled in 2028, WInkelmann said. That model will be a four-seat car and not a traditional supercar.

Given current battery technology, an electric Lamborghini supercar just isn’t possible, Winkelmann has said, because the batteries are simply too heavy.

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End of an era: Lamborghini goes hybrid…and very fast