Its parent company, the Volkswagen Group, is already developing solid-state batteries for production through its joint venture with Stanford University spinoff, QuantumScape, in California. Lamborghini has gone all the way east to the other US coast to sign on with MIT, which may explain why VW brand boss Herbert Diess in October insisted the group was “hedged for solid-state development”.
It’s also far from the first time Lamborghini’s research and development team has hooked up with a US university programme, with the Aventador’s three different carbon fibre manufacturing techniques emerging from a University of Washington State collaboration.
“Exactly one year ago we signed an agreement with the MIT-Italy Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which marked the start of a collaboration between two outstanding entities for the creation of a project that intends to write an important page in the future of super sports cars for the third millennium,” Lamborghini chairman and CEO Stefano Domenicali says.
“Collaborating with MIT for our R&D department is an exceptional opportunity to do what Lamborghini has always been very good at: rewriting the rules on super sports cars. Now we are presenting an exciting and progressive concept car. We are inspired by embracing what is impossible today to craft the realities of tomorrow: Lamborghini must always create the dreams of the next generation.”
Using smaller, lighter supercapacitors instead of heavyweight batteries is a key part of that development and Lamborghini began using them in a nearly trivial way on the Aventador five years ago. The advantage of supercapacitors is their high energy discharge rates compared to batteries, allowing higher power peaks and higher rates of regeneration.
They also resist “cycling” memory better than conventional batteries and regenerate energy at the same rate it can punch it out, though they don’t carry the same energy density.
“The new collaboration allows us to be ambitious and think outside the box in designing new materials that answer energy storage challenges for the demands of an electric sport vehicle,” Dinca says.
SHAPE THE FUTURE
“We are thrilled to combine our expertise in advanced materials and manufacturing with the vision and support of Automobili Lamborghini and to realise concepts that will shape the future of transportation,” Hart says.
It will also embed the bodywork and the underbody structure with visible and invisible methods to monitor the integrity of the carbon fibre, which it insists will be able to “self-heal”.
Hart’s team has further developed Lamborghini’s own ideas on monitoring and detecting micro damage to the carbon fibre from accidents, then heals them via trick chemistry. The concept, if applicable in production, would allow broader use of lightweight carbon fibre components without the risk of fatal cracking or fatigue.
It is a combination that Lamborghini’s aerodynamicists have used to get the upper hand over the Lamborghini Centro Stile designers.