The alternative Lambo

Lamborghini is synonymous with the supercar and hypercar worlds. They have long been the pioneers in aesthetics combined with cutting edge technology to provide the world with exquisite examples of work. It is however not the only territory Lamborghini has explored over the years, and with good reason too.

Lamborghini started experimenting with alternative ranges and additions to their super-sports car only portfolio quite while back. The first occourence of this explanatory voyage started in 1976, with the Cheetah. The car was the first attempt at potentially providing the United States military with off-road vehicles. Lambo was after some much needed cash to keep the company afloat, however after many complications the entire project was scrapped. (Lambocars 2000-2013) After a few updates and improvement over following the years, the LM002 came to fruition in 1986, and was the last example of Lamborghini’s detour for decades to come. (Lambocars 2000-2013)

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For the next 22 years, the company continued producing sports and supercars only, and had no intensions of broadening their customer base until the year 2008. On the 1st of October the company revealed their brand new idea, and stepping away from the norm, a 4-door saloon. This car was the impressive looking Lamborghini Estoque. (Lambocars 2000-2013)

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The design aesthetics and styling followed the fundamental elements of a true raging bull. Although this was the pre-Aventador era, and the car got a lot of its styling and use of lines from the Murcielago and the Gallardo, it also made a lot of innovative changes to carry the aesthetic characteristics into future Lamborghinis. The car featured a crisp look, utilising the signature geometric intakes and included features such as the Y-shaped headlights, and taillamps, which were implemented into the later released Aventador.

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The car was initially designed to use Audi’s modular-longitudinal platform, which were a basis for cars such as the Audi A4, A6, A7, A8 and VW Phaeton. This was an obvious choice as Lamborghini is owned by the Volkswagen group, and therefore, platform sharing would mean less production costs for such an extreme 4-door saloon. (Caranddriver 2015) The Estoque was going to be at the top-end of the 4-door saloon market, and was set out to challenge the likes of Porsche with their Panamera, which was under development at the same time, as well as Audi’s new top-of-the line Audi A7, S7, the Mercedes-Benz CLS and the Aston Martine Rapide. (Caranddriver 2015)

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In terms of power and speed this was going to be no challenge at all, as the Estoque housed a colossal 5.2 litre V10 engine, taken straight from the production Gallardo LP560-4, meaning 560bhp was on tap to propel the extravagant family supercar. (Lambocars 2000-2013) The drivetrain was naturally going to be a 4-wheel drive and so the car was going to hold its own all the way up to its’ limited top speed of 186mph (299km/h). (Autocar 2014) This was accompanied by prospects to possibly use a turbo diesel engine as well as a hybrid V8.

Lamborghini had had very high hopes with the Estoque, and projected sales figured said that a production of about 1500-2000 models would be an annual goal. The expected launch for public purchase had been placed at the year 2012, and entering showrooms as early as the end of year 2011. (Autocar 2014)

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Unfortunately 2009 brought with it an economic downturn, and Lambo put the idea of introducing a 3rd product into their range on hold. Lamborghini had not taken any decisions on production, (Topgear 2015) and the project was therefore halted as it was to be an unstable venture at the time. After that, the idea of a high-end family car has not been explored again, and it really is a pity as a 4-door super saloon would have been a great addition to the Lambo line-up.

The ventures did not stop there however, as in an unpredictable turn of events, Lambo brought to reality the Urus; and unveiled it at the 2012 Beijing Auto Show.

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The Urus is Lamborghini’s modern take on an SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle), intended to carry a family of four, on an everyday basis. (Topgear 2015) The car is set to be a threat against the most luxurious of SUV’s in the market such as the Porsche Cayenne, Mercedes G-Class, Range Rover Sport and the 2016 Bentley SUV. The price was to sit at around £150,000 which sets it right between the Aventador and all new Huracàn. (Topgear 2015)

“SUVs make up one of the most successful market segments worldwide, and the Urus is the most extreme interpretation of the SUV idea: it is the Lamborghini of SUVs.” ( Stephen Winkelmann, Lamborghini CEO cited in Topgear 2012)

It is said to use an evolution of Audi’s LBM platform, and will share it with the also VW owned, Porsche Cayenne, VW Touareg and Audi Q7 platforms. (Autocar 2014) If this venture is successful, then Lamborghini will surely be capturing the high-end SUV market with force. In terms of engine, the car is planned to make use of a plug-in hybrid, an Audi derived V8 or even a diesel powerhouse making about 600bhp. (Digitaltrends 2015)

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The styling makes use of Lamborghini’s classic linework, and takes a lot of cues from the Estoque 4-door saloon supercar. The Urus features large geometric intakes in the front, coupled with an adjustable front spoiler, (Topgear 2015) It also integrates the new aesthetic language of Lambo lights, as in, it uses a Y-shaped lighting solution in both the front and rear of the vehicle. Crisp lines, mixed with large muscular fenders, give the car a powerful stance and a strong presence, which surely will be intimidating to see in your rear-view mirror.

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Currently the Urus is set to have its official production launch in 2017, although with never ending turmoil in the Middle East, and uncertainty from Audi’s point of view, the Urus production might still be affected. Lamborghini, likes to set out on unknown ventures, and so, I wouldn’t put money on it, although, the Cayenne worked brilliantly for Porsche, and with Bentley releasing their own SUV in 2017 as well, (Digitaltrends 2015) I would say positive prospects were high.

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A 4-door alternative to Lamborghini’s line-up would be a brilliant step forward into the future, and could even reinvent the name. This combined with the Asterion’s positive introduction of a plug-in hybrid system, could bring with it an extremely prosperous future for Lamborghini.

 

References:

Autocar.co.uk (2015) Lamborghini Estoque: Full Details [online]. available from <http://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/new-cars/lamborghini-estoque-full-details>

Caranddriver.com (2015) Lamborghini Estoque to Share Platform with Audi A7 [online]. available from < http://www.caranddriver.com/news/lamborghini-estoque-to-share-platform-with-audi-a7-car-news> [November 2008]

Caranddriver.com (2015) Lamborghini Estoque Still Years from Launch [online]. available from <http://www.caranddriver.com/news/lamborghini-estoque-still-years-from-launch-car-news>[October 2008]

Digitaltrends.com (2015) Lamborghini’s Ludicruos off-roader SUV, the Urus, Confirmed for 2017 production Date [online]. available from <http://www.digitaltrends.com/cars/lamborghini-urus-confirmed-2017/

Digitaltrends.com (2015) Lamborghini still wants the Urus SUV, But Audi Doesn’t Think customers will [online]. available from <http://www.digitaltrends.com/cars/lamborghini-urus-suv-scrutinized-by-audi/

Lambocars.com (2000 – 2013) Lamborghini – TIMEline [online]. available from <http://www.lambocars.com/timeline.html>

Lambocars.com (2000 – 2013) LM002 – the STORY [online]. available from <http://www.lambocars.com/off_road/lm002.html

Lambocars (2000-2013) Cheetah – the STORY [online]. available from <http://www.lambocars.com/off_road/cheetah.html>

Topgear.com (2015) Estoque: Dead or Alive? [online]. available from <http://www.topgear.com/uk/car-news/Lamborghini-Estoque-2009-03-25>[25 March 2009]

Topgear.com (2015) Lamborghini’s new SUV: this is the Urus [online]. available from < http://www.topgear.com/uk/car-news/lamborghini-urus-suv-revealed-2012-04-22>

 

Image references:

Searchpp.com (2014) available from <http://tinoto.vn/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Lamborghini-Urus.2.jpg>

Searchpp.com (2014) available from <http://www.nettekeyif.net/data/media/56/2012-lamborghini-urus-concept-2.jpg>

Tuningnews.net (2003-2014) available from <http://www.tuningnews.net/news/081001/lamborghini-estoque-concept-hr-01.jpg>

Tuningnews.net (2003-2014) available from < http://www.tuningnews.net/news/081001/lamborghini-estoque-concept-hr-02.jpg>

Tuningnews.net (2003-2014) available from < http://www.tuningnews.net/news/081001/lamborghini-estoque-concept-hr-03.jpg>

Tuningnews.net (2003-2014) available from <http://www.tuningnews.net/news/081001/lamborghini-estoque-concept-hr-04.jpg>

Wallpcars.com (2013) available from <http://wallpcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/2015-lamborghini-urus-gallery–2017-lamborghini-urus-concept-by-jordan-shiraki.jpg>

Wallpaperofcar.com (2014) available from < http://wallpaperofcar.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/lamborghini%20urus-pSOxu-1025×683.jpg>

 

 

A Hybrid future for Lamborghini?

A new era has dawned on the automotive industry in the last decade. It is commonly known, that the World is changing, and there are climate shifts occouring. Eventually, although probably in the very distant future, fossil fuels will become depleted, and the inevitable rise in the prices of fuels to a ridiculous level are sure to accompany the fact. These are further strengthened with the constant social unrest in the Middle-East and their effect on fuel supplies.

Alongside these factors, we have a major issue; pollution and sustainability; people are aware of the negative implications of industries and manufacturing, and thus industries need to find solutions to these problems. One leading ideology about pollution and its’ widespread, is that cars cause the problem; and this is especially true in highly congested areas with a concentration of population, such as cities and town centres. To transcend towards a sustainable future, technologies are changing, and are being developed to brighten the prospects for humanity.

In the last two decades we have seen the envisioning of plug-in hybrids brought to life with cars such as the Toyota Prius, which combined with Toyota alternative energy vehicles, by the end of 2013 had already sold more than 6 million units. (Corporatenews 2014)  It has adapted to our environment, held its own and it feels right at home on our roads filled with standard ICE (internal combustion engine) cars; with customers, with the population and with industry. The popularity of the cars as well as legislations regarding EVs (Electric Vehicles) and Hybrid cars, blossomed into other manufactures jumping on the bandwagon as well. In 2010, a legislation was released that by 2050 the UK is to cut greenhouse emissions by 80%. Obviously with legislations come incentives, although it is projected that EVs won’t be expected to make a major contribution to emission reductions until 2020. (Parliament 2010)

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This means only five years to go until that expected massive shift towards EV manufacture; by most car companies anyway; and starts to outweigh the productions and carbon emissions of current levels and fossil fuel powered cars. Manufacturers from all corners of the Globe have had an early start and started adapting their manufacturing methods and their model line-ups, although there is concern about the energy taken to produce battery powered vehicles, as well as the disposal of said batteries and vehicles. The manufacture of these batteries is pricy and offer relatively low range for vehicles; however new technologies such as lithium batteries are being developed and implemented to improve the overall performance and range, and to lower manufacturing stresses. (ft 2015)

There are quite a few examples of EVs and hybrids on the market today, such as Nissan with their all electric Leaf, Mitsubishi with their i-Miev, as well as adaptions of existing ranges such as VW’s E-Golf, and the Audi E-Tron just to mention a few. (Plugincars 2015) Even smaller production manufacturers have become involved, and not only have risen to the challenge, but are now leading innovators. Tesla is a prime example of that, and have managed to concoct a solution of luxury, performance and electric technology. Although, sales figures suggest that the Tesla Model S’s were only modest compared to large OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturing) companies last year, the Model S has been hitting records sales.(Ibtimes 2015) This, combined with tax incentive solutions by countries such as Norway, and the release of the all new Tesla S P85D, resonate undoubted success to the future of EVs in not only the largest, but smaller companies as well.

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This of course means changes are to come, and will inevitable have to also affect sports, and supercars. BMW stumped the World when they announced their initial concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2009, (Wikipedia 2015) the BMW Vision Efficient Dynamics Concept. It was a proposition of a BMW Plug-in Hybrid vehicle in the form of a 4-seater sports car featuring a brand new design language. It was not only radical in aesthetics but in nature; a proposal of a hybrid sports car was still doubted as the brilliant 2008 Tesla Roadster was still in its very early stages of sales. This car of course has since then blossomed into the currently available BMW i8, and it’s baby sister the BMW i3. A rapidly climbing amount of examples can be seen cruising the streets of cities and towns, especially in the UK and throughout Europe.

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Sportscars, are usually followed by the niche markets, and therefore, supercars. 2014 saw the release of three very special cars to join the Hybrid plug-in category. This truly gave a new meaning to hybrids, and combined conventional petrol engines, with electric engines, not only to decrease emissions, but to also increase performance levels. These new prodigies of the hypercar market came in the form of the Ferrari Laferrari, McLaren P1, and the Porsche 918. These cars truly show the best of both worlds, and demonstrate the effectiveness and sheer power you can get from joining the positive attributes of both the ICE and the electric world.

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An obvious question raises; if this is where the future is heading, how long until all companies are manufacturing EV’s and Hybrid vehicles? Well, it seems, probably not that long at all; and one of these companies happens to be Lamborghini. Although with having to uphold such a lavish name and brand, Lambo needed to follow suit and keep with the times, and so, had to take the inevitable step forward and introduced their first ever plug-in hybrid vehicle.

Lamborghini Asterion at Mondial de l’Automobile 2014 – Press Conference (Lamborghini 2014)

Stephan Winkelmann, the boss of Lamborghini, was quite hesitant and not very interested at first,  but he knew what had to be done. “Even if we might be granted an exemption as a small manufacturer, there is the issue of social acceptance. Things are changing. People are more aware, more sensitive…” (Stephan Winkelmann 2014 cited in Top Gear 2014)

The Asterion is a GT car, and rather than being the signature supercar range that Lamborghini is so renowned for, the design shifts its purpose from being the competitor of the Laferrari, McLaren, or the Porsche to more of an everyday plug-in hybrid super sports car. (Autocar 2014) This takes the company right to the forefront of lavish luxury everyday cruising, and challenges the likes of the BMW i8, and the upcoming Audi R8 EV and plug-in hybrid ranges, (Carmagazine 2015) which happen to be owned by the same parent company; Volkswagen.

Although the Asterion is only in concept form at the moment, designed to be a “technology demonstrator”, (Autocar 2014) prospects of making a production model are looking up. This car would evolve Lamborghini’s portfolio into a new age and widen the horizons, as well as help form a new image to the brand. It was based on the Aventador’s and the Hurican’s monocoque chassis, and the hybrid unit had been tested in an Aventador for the past few years, while it was under development.

The combination of both petrol and electric engines have resulted in a massive 910bhp power output, the highest any Lamborghini has ever injected into any of it’s raging bulls, and skyrockets the car from zero to 60 in just three seconds. It makes use of a V10 petrol engine for normal road driving and combined with a dual-clutch automatic transmission system, coupled with a recovery system. Similar to a KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System), whereby batteries are charged by the kinetic energy forces caused during braking, this system also helps charge the batteries although does so by making use of a motor in the transmission while the car is in normal driving mode. (Autocar 2014)

The car makes use of two electrical motors for each front wheel, and is purely a front-wheel drive car in full electric mode, while being able to reach a top speed of 78mph (126 km/h) in EV mode. The motors also assist the car with torque vectoring and allow the wheels to apply different torques, which also assist the handling as well as the output and efficiency of the normal engine. (Autocar 2014)

How Lamborghini’s Asterion LPI 910-4 technology works (Lamborghini 2014)

It seems then, that Lamborghini has paid careful attention to the world around us, have changed with the times, and progressed into a new way of thinking. However, as with previous, potentially successful endeavours, one can never know with Lamborghini until the day of release arrives. Needless to say though, a hybrid Lambo will be inevitable at some stage in the future, and the Asterion makes a brilliant and impactful introduction.

 

 

References :

 

Autocar.co.uk (2014) Lamborghini Asterion could make production – plus exclusive studio pics [online]. Available from <http://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/paris-motor-show/lamborghini-asterion-could-make-production-plus-exclusive-studio-pics>

Carmagazine.co.uk (2015) Audi R8 (2015): tech chief confirms plug-in hybrid and EV [online]. Available from < http://www.carmagazine.co.uk/Secret-new-cars/Search-Results/Spyshots/Audi-R8-2015-tech-chief-confirms-plug-in-hybrid-and-EV/>

Corporatenews.pressroom.toyota.com (2014) Worldwide Sales of Toyota Hybrids Top 6 Million Units [online]. available from <http://corporatenews.pressroom.toyota.com/releases/worldwide+toyota+hybrid+sales+top+6+million.htm>

En.wikipedia.org (2015) BMW i8 [online]. Available from < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BMW_i8>

ft.com (2015) September New battery aims to transform electric cars [online]. available from < http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/01b47ecc-6126-11e4-b935-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3OCJyJ0bV> [2 November 2014]

Ibtimes.com (2015) September 2014 Tesla Model S Sales: CEO Elon Musk Says Global Sales Hit a Record [online]. available from < http://www.ibtimes.com/september-2014-tesla-model-s-sales-ceo-elon-musk-says-global-sales-hit-record-1714929> [28 October 2014]

Parliament.uk (2010) Postnote – Electric Vehicles [online]. available from<http://www.parliament.uk/documents/post/postpn365_electricvehicles.pdf>

Plugincars.com (2015) Cars [online]. available from <http://www.plugincars.com/cars>

Topgear.com (2015) Meet Lamborghini’s big boss – Topgear [online]. Available from <http://www.topgear.com/uk/car-news/tg-chats-lambo-boss-2014-12-10> [10 December 2014]

 

Electronic Visual references:

Auto News (2014) Lamborghini Asterion LPI910-4 Premiere. [online] available from < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3iaPXSTE_U> [4 October 2014]

Lamborghini (2014) How Lamborghin’si Asterion LPI910-4 technology works. [online] available from < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agaYcay0Dro>

 

Image references:

Dailytech.com (2015) available from <http://images.dailytech.com/nimage/model-s-photo-gallery-08.jpg> [9 October 2014]

Gopixpic.com (n.d) available from <http://www.ausmotive.com/images/BMW-Vision-EfficientDynamics-01.jpg>

Phys.org (2003-2015) available from <http://cdn.phys.org/newman/gfx/news/hires/2012/toyotaprius.jpg> [28 August 2013]

Planete-gt.com (2014) available from <http://www.planete-gt.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/laferrari-mclaren-p1-porsche-918-comparo-top-gear-2.jpg> [12 November 2014]