There are engineering issues—batteries are heavy, range is still limited, recharging is slow. But there are also emotional challenges, major philosophical hurdles for a company that pins its identity on screaming V10s and V12s. Electric motors don’t scream. And their character is relentlessly homogeneous. How would an electric Lamborghini of the future differentiate itself from electric Ferraris—or anything else, for that matter?
To answer that question, Lambo turned to MIT, in what will undoubtedly be an extremely popular on-campus research project for the next three years. While most automotive development focuses on near-term sellable products, MIT is aiming for moonshots. The embodiment of that ambition is parked outside the Stata Center on campus. The car is called the Terzo Millennio. It’s a full-scale model, a dream of what a distant future Lamborghini could look like if cars were freed from modern engineering constraints.
Current Lamborghinis are built around a big engine bolted behind the seats. And current electric cars are built around their batteries, which is to say they’re often built on top of their batteries. The Terzo clearly doesn’t have room for a stack of batteries between its seats and the ground (okay, it doesn’t actually have seats, but use your imagination). Instead, the idea is that the body is the battery. Within three years Lamborghini and MIT hope to develop carbon nanotube technology to the point that structural parts can double as batteries. How? Well, they’re working on it. But it’s not like nanotube battery cars are imminent. The concept’s name translates to “Third Millennium,” which is another way of saying, “Don’t bother us if this isn’t available in your Huracán four years from now.”
The other major subject of this MIT-Lambo team-up concerns supercapacitors, which can be quickly charged and discharged but can’t store as much energy as an equivalent battery. That might not be a problem for Lamborghini’s particular mission, though. Prior to the concept unveiling, Maurizio Reggiani, Lamborghini’s chief technical officer, explained that an electric Lamborghini is going to have different priorities than most other passenger cars. “I’d rather have quick charging than long range,” he said. “Because if you have really quick charging, the range doesn’t matter as much. I’d rather be able to do four laps of the Nurburgring and then charge in three minutes than be able to drive a long distance but take a long time to recharge.”
Neither Lambo nor MIT wants to put a date on that three-minute recharge—hey, you can’t see the future. But you can get a sneak preview. It’s still parked outside in Cambridge.