The Lamborghini Terzo Millennio will never see production. The company officials calls its latest concept a box — a four wheeled space filled with novel ideas that hint at the future of personal transportation. For generations, Lamborghinis have been at the margins of the automotive world. They are fabulously expensive, brutally fast, and noted for their edgy, angular designs.
Lamborghinis project an image of power, money, sex, and speed. They are cars for arrivistas — people who want the rest of the world to know they have made it, however “it” is defined. The Terzo Millennio is about keeping Lamborhini automobiles relevant for its customers a decade or more from now — when sanitized, cookie cutter autonomous transportation modules will rule the streets, or so we are told.
Maurizio Reggiani, the company’s director of R&D, says the Terzo Millennio is “Really a box that we want to put all that’s necessary” in to meet the needs and expectations of future customers. “If you ask one of our customers, do you want to have a chauffeur? No. For them, the number of cylinders is fundamental, [just] like horsepower,” he says. A Lamborghini is meant to juggle up your gizzards, not drive around sedately while it cossets its passengers in silent luxury. A ferociously powerful gasoline engine that assaults your eardrums with concussive blasts from multiple tailpipes is an inescapable part of that experience.
The Terzo Millennio begins with styling — extreme, mind bending, shape shifting styling. It looks more like a video game creation than a real automobile and that’s a good thing. “The car is super extreme,” says head designer Mitja Borkert. “The car must have a wow factor… otherwise we have failed.” Borket, who previously penned cars for Porsche, and his team have certainly achieved that goal.
But the real significance of the Lamborghini Terzo Millennio is not just its savage good looks but the car’s carbon fiber skin itself. In cooperation with some smart folks at MIT, the company is exploring way to make that skin using carbon fiber nanotubes. If they are successful, that skin will not only be self healing, it will also store and discharge electricity, making the entire car a new form of supercapacitor. Whoa, Holy Wow Factor, Batman!
The alliance with MIT is scheduled to last for three years. Year One is all about selecting the materials that will be used. Year Two involves getting the structure to store and release energy. Year Three will be devoted to turning all that technology into a three dimensional reality. Reportedly, Lamborghini is paying MIT $200,000 a year for its assistance with the project.
Does this mean there is an all electric Lamborghini coming sometime in the future? Not necessarily. A hybrid perhaps, similar in concept to the Porsche 918 Spyder. In fact, there is corporate connection between that iconic Porsche and the Lamborghini Terzo Millennio. Both companies are owned by Volkswagen, so whatever the people in Sant’Agata know, the people in Stuttgart, Wolfsburg, and Ingolstadt know as well.
A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. What Lamborghini and MIT know could disrupt the entire automotive industry and open the door to a low carbon, electric transportation future, even if some cars will still have an internal combustion engine buried somewhere beneath their high tech bodywork.