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Lamborghini Seeking Balance Between Performance and “Social Acceptance”

Smaller, third-model, possibly even a hybrid could come from Italian supercar maker.

by on Mar.08, 2011

Lamborghini offsets the added performance of the new Aventador with the use of super-light carbon fiber.

If you want anything faster you might have to hitch a ride off an aircraft carrier.  The new Lamborghini Aventador’s 700-horsepower V12 can propel the supercar from 0 to 100 kmh (62.5 mph) in just 2.9 seconds, about as fast as a skydiver accelerates during freefall.

Performance is the watchword for the Italian brand, whose emblem is a raging bull – indeed, the new Aventador was named after a legendary fighting bull.  Yet for all the emphasis on power and speed, the Volkswagen subsidiary cannot ignore the issue of what CEO Stefan Winkelmann calls “social acceptance.”

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“We can’t turn the clock back” to the days when brands like Lamborghini could ignore mounting concerns about the environment, Winkelmann tells TheDetroitBureau.com.  “We have to do something about social acceptance.”

And that could lead to some surprising moves by the supercar maker, perhaps even the introduction of a hybrid-electric powertrain as it moves forward with plans to add a third model to its current, two-platform line-up.

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First Look: Lamborghini Aventador

Italian supercar maker bull-ish about new model.

by on Mar.01, 2011

The long-awaited Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 makes its Geneva debut.

Lamborghini is bull-ish about its new supercar, the Aventador, and for good reason.  In keeping with tradition, the Italian maker has named its latest offering after a legendary bull that kept even the bravest of matadors at bay.

If looks are any indication, the new Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4will do a good job sending chills through the competition.  Impossibly low and sleek, with an arrow-like body that is one of the sleekest on the road, the new Lambo flagship was developed with twin purposes.

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“It’s all about design and performance,” explained Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winklemann, during the new car’s debut at the Geneva Motor Show.  “Our inspiration,” he added, “comes from fighter jets.”

When it comes to muscle, there’s no bull.  The 700 refers to the horsepower rating of the Aventador’s 6.5-liter V12.  That’s pumped through a new electro-mechanical gearbox that can shift in barely 50 milliseconds.  As with previous Lamborghini flagships, the new model features high-traction all-wheel-drive to ensure all that torque reaches the pavement.

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Sneak Peek: Lamborghini Jota

Lambo's sheet metal striptease.

by on Sep.07, 2010

Lamborghini does the dance of the veils as it prepares for a Paris preview of the new Jota.

Like a temptress doing the dance of the veils or, if you prefer, a siren taking tips at the local “gentleman’s club,” Lamborghini is doing a sheet metal striptease as it builds excitement for the upcoming revelation of its Murcielago replacement at the Paris Motor Show, later this month.

Tentatively named the Lamborghini Jota, the pictures seen here provide only a tiny, if tempting, glimpse at what’s to come, but we’ve nonetheless been keeping our ear open for insights into what’s coming as the Italian maker moves to replace its aging supercar.

You can expect to still see the raging bull hood ornament on this, the latest offering to roll out of the Lamborghini plant in Sant’Agata Bolognese.  And don’t expect to see the Jota go soft and squishy.  Lambo designers will retain true to form with the hard angles that have defined the brand since its founding, in 1963, by Ferruccio Lamborghini.

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But where the maker – now a division of Volkswagen AG (or, more precisely, VW’s Audi subsidiary) – has long relied on brute force to get the steel moving, expect a much more modern machine this time around.  Think a slightly smaller car, somewhere between the size of the current Lamborghini Murcielago and the compact Gallardo.

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Lightweighting: Getting The Lead and Steel And Cast Iron Out Of Tomorrow’s Cars.

Material mix best way to cut weight, think tank president says.

by on Aug.12, 2010

"To add speed, add lightness," said legendary car driver and designer Colin Chapman, founder of Lotus.

The late Colin Chapman, the revered race car and sports car designer, is often credited with the quote “To add speed, add lightness.” If he were alive today, he’d likely put more emphasis on that maxim than ever as a central tenet in the push for better fuel efficiency.
Chapman, founder of Lotus Cars, was known for his clever techniques to reduce weight in both his race cars and road cars. His belief was that a light car could beat more powerful ones because its chassis would handle better. And he was right. Lotus won seven Formula One Constructor titles under Chapman.

Today’s automakers face a far different challenge than Chapman. Instead of speed, auto companies are working furiously to increase fuel economy, but most of the work is focused on more efficient powertrains, not reducing weight.

Jay Baron is amongst those who think they’re making a mistake. Baron, president and CEO of the Center for Automotive Research, an industry think tank, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, said reducing weight might be even more important than increasing powertrain efficiency because no one knows what powertrain technology will win out, but lighter vehicles will help with efficiency no matter what is powering the car.

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A primary way to save weight is using lighter materials. Baron said there are essentially five materials in play here:
• mild steel, which is the predominate material in most cars, costing about 30 to 50 cents per pound.
• high-strength steel, which is about double the cost of mild steel but can be made thinner to provide the same strength.
• aluminum, which costs about $1.50 per pound, but is significantly lighter than steel. Besides the cost disadvantage, it’s more difficult to form and weld.
• plastics, while the prices vary wildly based on material and purpose, plastic is far more expensive than other materials and takes longer to mold.
• magnesium is another material finding its way into vehicles, but it is even more expensive than aluminum.

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