Lamborghini Is Not Ready to Give Up Its V12
“The sound of the engine will remain one of the most important characteristics of our future cars,” Chief Technology Officer Maurizio Reggiani says.
Thirty-one years after the last Countach rolled out of Italy in 1990, the Lamborghini Countach LPI 800-4 is born again. This time, the 6.5-liter V12 engine, which is mounted longitudinally at the rear of the car, is paired with a mild 48-volt hybrid. And while the wedge looks familiar, it’s decidedly more modern, harnessing innovations like the supercapacitors that store energy instead of the more-typical lithium ion battery cells.
The man leading the team behind Lamborghini’s technology and engineering is Maurizio Reggiani, a 20-plus-year veteran of the Italian automaker. He started as a project leader for the Murciélago in 1998 and straddles the line between heritage and progress in Sant'Agata Bolognese. For the updated Countach, that means celebrating what works and building on that, like the roaring V12 that is Lamborghini’s calling card.
To meet Reggiani is to be charmed by the affable Italian, who has been charged with the heavy lifting of Lamborghini’s body and chassis technologies, powertrain, suspension and electronics for the last 15 years. He’s passionate about the brand and speaks in effusive sentences that don’t sound like the canned script one might expect from an executive. The phrase “respect the DNA” is sprinkled throughout our conversation at the Concept Lawn of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and it is clear Reggiani innately understands what makes the brand tick. .
“I believe that what we sell is emotion, and part of that emotion comes from the sound of the engine. For us, it’s fundamental to continue to use a V12 engine,” he says. “That is the best in terms of sound and progressivity, and it’s the sound Lamborghini customers want to hear.”
That’s not to say that Lamborghini is resisting change or avoiding the march toward reducing emissions. On the contrary, Reggiani says every step toward progress must improve upon the performance of the previous model, and the company has made a commitment to reduce CO2 by 50 percent by 2025. For now, the focus is on plug-in hybrids but an all-electric model is on the horizon.
One significant factor in the development of the future of the Raging Bull is a partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston. At the end of 2019, MIT announced it had filed “a joint patent for a material that will serve as the technological base for a new generation of supercapacitors.” Reggiani says what they’re building is much more advanced than even the one in the new Countach. It sounds like Lamborghini is keeping the V12 in the lineup and finding ways to achieve its electrification goals at the same time.
“The V12 is our heritage, and we want the sound of the engine to remain one of the most important characteristics of our future cars.”
Looking ahead, he sees Lamborghini remaining at the pinnacle of supercars; simultaneously overseeing the expansion of the brand to include more types of vehicles outside of the supercar realm.
“What I imagine in ten years is based on our experience with the Urus; we proved we can enlarge our product range in a successful way,” the CTO says. “And if I look back at the story of Lamborghini, we have several examples, like the LM002. I think we can have other body types that can be fitted on our DNA. And along the way, our first electric Lamborghini at the end of this decade.”
Several years ago, I was invited to drive the Aventador S at Motorsports Ranch south of Fort Worth, Texas. There we were in the land of pickup trucks and big oil, pushing the supercar as hard as we could manage on the twisty track. To this day, when people ask me about my favorite cars, it remains a contender; it's like riding on a wild tiger. Or, more appropriately, a pissed-off bull. I can't wait to find out what it feels like to drive the next reboot.
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