Future Performance In A Greener World – Part 2 of 3

What is the key to the future for Lamborghini? We are pretty sure that carbon fiber will be one of the major players for the structural parts of the next decade. It was forecast that in the next four years the automotive business will be the number-one consumer of carbon fiber, so this is clear. Carbon fiber will be a key for the future to improve safety, to improve the stiffness, and reduce weight.

The 2011 Lamborghini Sesto Elemento Concept
One of the most striking features of the Sesto Elemento is that its entire body is constructed from visible, matte-finish carbon fiber (the so-called “sixth element” indicated by translating the concept’s name from Italian), as expensive a material as it is light. In fact, the curb weight of the entire car is claimed to be a mere 2200 pounds. That’s 1100 fewer than our estimated curb weight for the supposedly “superlight” Gallardo Superleggera.

Turbo or hybrid Lamborghini?
Normally, you talk about turbochargers when you think about downsizing, and downsizing is something that is difficult for a super sports car [manufacturer] like Lamborghini to think about at this moment. I think it is against the heritage of the DNA of the flagship like Aventador. The turbo is something…but at the end, the really sportive car is naturally aspirated. If you are a good engineer, you are able to achieve the best performance without using boost. And for us, the challenge that we have is to be the best. To have the best means to use the best possible, that means the flow efficiency of the intake manifold, of exhaust, reduce the back-pressure ..everything in the best way. If we talk about [a] hybrid solution, it is the same discussion. We want to use everything in order to achieve our target of reduction of the CO2 of 35 percent compared with 2007. To reach this, you must maintain the DNA. If you put 400 kilograms [880 pounds] of batteries it will be difficult to have a car that can be able to run with handling that we want.

The 2022 Aventador?
If I close my eyes, I want to retain the DNA of Lamborghini, but I want also to be more and more aggressive in the CO2 reduction and fuel consumption. I must think something like this: Cylinder deactivation-we have 12 cylinders, but if I can use in the town three, four, six…if I can have some energy storage, something like this, can be another opportunity. But what is important is to maintain the DNA of Lamborghini. If when I want to open the throttle body, I push the accelerator, I must have 12 cylinders that push me from behind. I must hear the noise. If I don’t have this, it is finished emotionally for Lamborghini. And if it’s finished emotionally, then there is no sense for Lamborghini to exist. -Maurizio Reggiani, Research and Development Director at Automobili Lamborghini, s.p.a.

MAZDA RX-9: RETURN OF THE ROTARY
Word from deep inside Mazda’s Hiroshima HQ is that development of its much-rumored, rotary-powered RX-9 is well underway. As one source told us, the company has put most of its R&D efforts into its new SkyActiv engines and transmissions and the next-generation MX-5, hampering the RX-9’s progress. “We want to take the RX-9 to the next level, but just can’t find the man-hours to do it,” says our insider. “We have a guideline. We know what we have to do. But as we must give priority to the next-gen MX-5, we have only a small band of guys working on the RX-9.” The image you see here is one artist’s impression of what the next-gen RX-9 will look like. Taking strong styling cues from Mazda’s recent Shinari concept car, the RX-9 is expected to receive some of the most flowing, fluid lines and edges ever given a Mazda sports car. Unlike the outgoing RX-8, with its complicated rear-door setup, the RX-9 will be a coupe. This means it will be more of an RX-7 for the 21st century, but with a twist. That twist will reportedly be in the form of hybrid technology Mazda will borrow from Toyota, thanks in part to an agreement the automakers signed last year. Apparently Mazda will only use Toyota’s hybrid drive unit, with the main power coming from the Mazda-built rotary. The hybrid unit will reportedly be used primarily as a power booster and range extender. Our confidant tells us there is no point in doing with a rotary what a current gasoline engine can do, hence the move to a hybrid-assisted setup. “If that were the case, we could pop a rotary into a compact lightweight car tomorrow. But there’s no merit in that. There’d be no reason to continue using a rotary.” Our source then changed tracks and mentioned platforms. “Do you know why the MX-5 grew so much in size? Because we had to drop it onto the RX-8 platform, as both cars employ the same platform.” Now, roles have been reversed. The next MX-5 will land in showrooms long before the next rotary-powered car, which will use the MX-5’s new platform, reportedly being downsized to dimensions close to the first-gen model. “Smaller, lighter, cleaner, more fuel-efficient, and more fun to drive. That’s where we want to take the next rotary car,” says our source, who hinted at a late 2013 debut. Given the bad rap the RX-8 suffered — fuel-guzzler, oil-guzzler, weak mid-range torque — such a radical rotary rebirth is the only way to take Mazda’s greatest legacy forward.

MCLAREN: PUSHING THE PERFORMANCE ENVELOPE
McLaren customers will soon take delivery of the 592-horsepower, mid-engine MP4-12C, but the wizards at Woking aren’t resting on their laurels. The company has already announced that it intends to release at least two more models based on the 12C over the next two years. The first should be a street version of the 12C GT3 race car that is currently being campaigned in the European FIA GT3 series by CRS Racing. That $512,000 GT3 race car is limited to a run of 20 and uses a detuned version of the 12C’s 3.8-liter twin turbo V-8 paired with a new paddle shift geabox developed by Ricardo. Expect similar bodywork and race-tuned performance the GT3 street version that should make its debut in 2013. McLaren has been mum on the second variant, due out in 2014, but it could be the 12C Spyder as seen below in our artist conception. The 12C’s signature carbon monocell makes a mid-engine cabriolet a no brainer, since the specially designed carbon-fiber tub is essentially roofless.

What will be the key performance-enabling technologies of the next decade?
McLaren Automotive has developed a range of technologies to use across its future sports cars, including our innovative one-piece Carbon MonoCell chassis, bespoke 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-8 powertrain, and a new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. In combination, these technologies are the essence of a lightweight, high-performance, yet efficient sports car. My role is to research how we can maintain those values in future technology and continue to push the performance envelope. For McLaren to consider hybrid technologies, we would have to focus on reducing weight and cost and increasing the efficiency of electric-drive units. We have designed and built an incredibly compact and efficient engine for the 12C and it produces the most horsepower in its segment and yet the least CO2. This supports the case for future investment in higher-rated gasoline engines producing even higher specific outputs.

What will the McLaren flagship supercar be like 10 years from now?
We will undertake further research into the use of carbon-fiber composites. McLaren hasn’t produced a road or race car with anything other than a carbon chassis for 30 years. I expect us to continue to find intelligent ways to use carbon in more applications in our future range of sports cars. We’ll also consider alternative powertrain concepts. Key to success in this area will be developing energy storage units that are lightweight and efficient, yet allow us to push ultimate performance and increase driving pleasure. We understand sports car customers won’t accept compromise, so our future cars must provide class-leading fuel efficiency and deliver the performance one expects of a car wearing the McLaren badge. -Dick Glover, McLaren Automotive, Inc. Research Director

MERCEDES-BENZ: DOES “A” STAND FOR AMG? Mercedes-Benz has released several forward-looking vehicles, including the eye-searing SLS E-cell electric supercar, but the future may rest in A-class, according to Ola Kaellenius, chairman of Mercedes-Benz’s AMG division. “That car screams sportiness. Whereas we haven’t made an official commitment or a final decision, it’s something that we’re looking at very carefully,” says Kaellenius. Selling a small Benz in the U.S. is something the company has been hesitant to do thus far, but as Americans continue to downsize and car companies face CAFE pressure, the question may no longer be if, but when. Question is, will it be a platform suitable for AMG? “When we put together a performance package for AMG, it’s about the holistic engineering experience,” says Kaellenius. “We have as our core brand value, Driving Performance — in the dual sense of the term. It needs to be a fantastic driving experience, but we also want to be, from a technological point of view, from an innovation point of view, the driving force of the performance segment. Which means, if you want to make a performance car that fits that brand core, it’s not one specific thing. You have to go for the whole package. “Clearly, in the engine/transmission combination, the power delivery [is important] as is efficiency. Our goal is to not only have benchmark performance, but also benchmark efficiency in the segment. It’s a lot about the chassis. For a lot of AMG cars we re-engineer the chassis completely to fit to the driving profile we’re looking for.” <<< Future Performance In A Greener World – Part 1 of 3

 

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