Monday, March 27, 2023

As Lamborghini and Ferrari Embrace EVs, They’re Ushering In the End of Combustion Engines


In a sign of the times, leading luxury auto rivals Lamborghini and Ferrari are leaning into electric vehicles. If they can master the tech for their high performance sports cars, there’s no future for combustion engines.

Italian car manufacturer Lamborghini teased a new model of its iconic Countach sports car this week. And the new Countach is expected be a hybrid or fully electric plug-in vehicle.

In a post on the Lamborghini website, the new car was cloaked under a cover. The company simply stated that the “new Lamborghini Countach is coming.”

The Countach isn’t the brand’s first foray into EVs; the Sián FKP 37, announced in 2017, was the first super sports car powered by a V12 engine and hybrid technology.

Image courtesy Lamborghini

But an electric version of the Countach—one of the brand’s most iconic designs—would usher in a new era for automakers. A video teaser shared by the brand claimed the “future is our legacy.” That, Roadshow says, means a Lamborghini hybrid powertrain is in the works:

Thanks to some leaks on Instagram, we know even more details. The car’s full name will be Countach LPI 800-4, with the “800” getting little bull horns on the end digits. Lamborghini has used the LPI moniker once before, on the hybrid Asterion concept from 2014. LPI stands for Longitudinale Posteriore Ibrido, meaning the car will have a longitudinally mounted engine in the middle of the car with a hybrid system. Initial rumors pointed to the new Countach using the same V12 and supercapacitor hybrid system as the limited-run Sian, and that’s the likeliest setup. But that car didn’t use the LPI designation, so there’s a chance the new Countach could use a full hybrid system, maybe even a plug-in-hybrid setup — the Asterion did, after all, and so will the Aventador’s replacement in a few years. This would be a great way to preview that car’s powertrain. The 800 in the name refers to how much power the car will make in metric PS, so about 789 horsepower, while the 4 means it will be all-wheel drive.

Ferrari 296 GTB

Rival Italian automaker Ferrari announced its third hybrid and first plug-in vehicle in June. The 296 GTB follows the SF 90 Stradale in 2019 and the convertible SF90 Spider, which debuted last year.

“If the SF 90 was designed to reach the peak of performance, this has been designed for the peak of pleasure of driving,” Ferrari Chief Marketing and Commercial officer Enrico Galliera said during a recent web presentation. “We expect this will also help us attract clients who are not driving a Ferrari now.”

Image courtesy Ferrari

For sports car manufacturers, the biggest challenge in shifting away from combustion engines is performance. High performance is what justifies their high prices—the Ferrari 296 GTB is expected to retail for more than $300,000. Its top speed will reach more than 205 mph.

Luxury EVs

Sports cars aren’t the only vehicles challenged by switching to electric engine technology. Luxury brands including Porsche Mercedes, and Jaguar have all announced plans to shift away from combustion engines.

Once the epitome of the automotive industry’s fossil-fuel problem, General Motors is resurrecting the Hummer SUV, too. The “supertruck” notorious for its fuel inefficiency — about 14 miles per gallon in the city, 18 on highways — will return 100 percent electric. The new EV SUV’s will be Hummer’s priciest, with the special edition models costing about $110,000.

Image courtesy Hummer

GM announced it was discontinuing the military-style vehicles in 2010 after the 2008 recession, failed distribution in Asia, and a shift in consumer habits away from less fuel-efficient vehicles. It returned though in 2020 with the announcement of the Hummer pickup EV. Those EVs have already begun rolling out, with the first production of the new vehicle selling for more than $2.5 million last April. Proceeds went to a veterans assistance organization, Tunnel to Towers. Hummers, also called Humvees, are military vehicles best known for use during the Gulf War.

Unlike its gas-guzzling predecessor, the EV Hummer SUV will get a range of 250 to 300 miles per full charge. According to GM, the 0 to 60 mph is as fast as about 3.5 seconds, and the truck boasts 830 horsepower. That’s about 170 less horsepower and a range of 50 miles less than than the electric pickup due to the SUV’s size difference.

Race to the Combustion-Free Future

Ferrari has said its first fully electric sports car will debut in 2025, the same timeline as luxury automaker Bentley. “It’s a process which has started a couple of years ago,” Galliera said. “We’re working to cope with regulation and the task of reducing emissions.”

Image courtesy Lamborhini

Lamborghini is expected to reveal the updated Countach on August 15th during Monterey Car Week. It’s the original Countach’s 50th anniversary.


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