Geneva Watch: Lamborghini’s ‘lightweight’ Aventador LP700-4

Geneva Watch: Lamborghini's 'lightweight' Aventador LP700-4

It’s actually quite a refreshing change to see Lamborghini revealing its new V12 super sports car from the inside-out. If you think back to previous Lamborghini launches the focus has been firmly on the glitz, glamour and sheer celebrity of the car, which can be a frustrating experience for an enthusiast when all you’d like to see is someone crack open the throttle and silence all the polite conversation.

I remember back in 1990 at the Diablo launch event outside the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo, which was attended by such luminaries as Lee Iacocca and Mario Andretti, and what struck me most was the fact that I couldn’t hear it, far less see it move any quicker than 5 mph.

With the new LP700-4 however, the conversation is far from polite or glitzy, Lamborghini are clearly excited by what they’ve managed to achieve with the use of lightweight composite materials and carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) in producing the highest power-to-weight ratio sports car in the marque’s history.

They were able to show off the rolling chassis of the new LP700-4 this morning at a TechDay event in collaboration with Audi, together with a sample of their CFRP material which is developed in-house.

Some of the interesting insights which arose from this morning’s press conference include;

  • Lamborghini is working closely with parent company Audi to ensure that every future model generation is considerably lighter than its predecessor – for both brands.
  • The entire monocoque (passenger cell and cockpit) of the LP700-4 is made from a single physical component weighing just 147.5 kg.
  • The entire chassis boasts an enormous static torsional stiffness of 35,000 Newton meters per degree. Yet the whole body-in-white weighs only 229.5 kg – a best-in-class for a super sports car with a power output of nearly 700 bhp.
  • A completely new 5400 sq. meter production facility has been built in Sant’Agata for the innovative monocoque and the complete body-in-white of the LP700-4. Lamborghini are set to triple the amount of carbon fibre materials used in production from 100 tonnes in 2009 to 300 tonnes by 2013.

 

Performance will be ‘extensively redefined’ for future Lamborghinis

Stephan Winkelmann, President and CEO of Automobili Lamborghini used the TechDay event to lay out a ‘new manifesto’ for the super sports car according to Lamborghini;

“Lamborghini stands for extreme and uncompromising super sports cars in the best Italian tradition. For Lamborghini, however, innovation has always been part of that tradition. The time has come for us to redefine the future of our super sports cars.

Obviously, the focus is on our customers’ two most important purchasing criteria – design and performance. Design has always been the number one reason for wanting to own a Lamborghini – and that’s not going to change. We will ensure that a Lamborghini will always remain unique and clearly recognizable.

Performance, on the other hand, is something that will be extensively redefined. Just a few years ago, the most important aspects were top speed, acceleration and handling – in that order of priority. However, things have changed since then.

[blockquote type=”blockquote_quotes” align=”right”]…increased power is no longer the focal point – because we no longer need to achieve higher top speeds, and because CO2 emissions are relevant for super sports cars, too.[/blockquote]

Together with design, handling and acceleration have become increasingly important. Top speed is no longer as decisive, because all super sports cars can manage more than 300 km/h (188 mph) – a speed that can barely be attained on the race track, and that is out of the question on the public roads of most countries on earth. Nowadays, the issues of handling and acceleration are far more crucial to consistent driving fun.

The power-to-weight ratio is the key factor in the improvement of both and in the experience of more direct driving fun. This means that increased power is no longer the focal point – because we no longer need to achieve higher top speeds, and because CO2 emissions are relevant for super sports cars, too.

This means that weight must be reduced.

It is important to understand how best to approach this reduction. Since the 1980s, the average weight of our vehicles has increased by around 500 kilograms (1,100 lb), due to the requirements set by safety, comfort and emissions reduction. This is a trend that we must reverse with urgency. However, because cannot sacrifice either safety or comfort, we will start using new materials.

The magic words are carbon fibre. We already began working with this in Sant’Agata Bolognese more than 30 years ago. We now have two research laboratories in Sant’Agata Bolognese and Seattle, and we have mastered a host of technologies that put us in a clearly dominant position when it comes to low-volume series production. With our new plant for building carbon-fibre monocoques and complete carbon-fibre bodyshells, we are delivering the highest quality levels and absolute precision.

Every new Lamborghini will make use of this carbon-fibre technology for optimum weight reduction. 2011 will see the new Lamborghini V12 super sports car launch a whole new chapter in the history of the brand.”

Fascinating eh? We’ll bring you full pictures and details of the Aventador LP700-4 from Geneva next week.

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