Lamborghini revealed the Terzo Millennio concept in Boston yesterday. A collaborative project between the Sant’Agata based supercar manufacturer and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the hybrid-powered concept car is claimed to preview the future direction of the VW Group-owned company.
Powered by four in-wheel electric motors, the concept benefits from four-wheel-drive as well as the high torque and kinetic energy regeneration afforded by the electric powertrain. Moving the electric motors into the wheels has also had another positive effect: freedom for designers and aerodynamicists.
As expected, the Terzo Millenio was conceived by the Lamborghini Centro Stile under the direction of former Porsche exterior design director Mitja Borkert.
Lamborghini says the concept expresses future design elements for the brand that have been made possible thanks to advances in technology. This can be clearly seen in the thin LED Y-signature strips that make up the front and rear lighting, an unmissable identifier and an evolution of the current DRG of recent Lamborghini production cars. But that’s just the start. There are also rectangular lights below the floating front fenders that are also enabled by technology. Thanks to LEDs and lasers, lighting can be considerably smaller than it is today and will continue to decrease in size in the future.
Functionality was key in the design process. The bodyside is an exercise in aerodynamic efficiency, with a multitude of winglets and vents, all of which guide air around and through the car, while the windshield that extends all the way down to the front bumper massively increases forward visibility. From the two seats within the cabin, the glass continues down through to the footwell. An advanced monocoque based on Lamborghini’s forged composite technology ensures that the driver and passenger are kept safe in their racecar-inspired seats.
The Terzo Millennio, which translates to ‘Third Millennium’, extends the use of technology far beyond the scope of the exterior and interior design. Thanks to Lamborghini’s cooperation with MIT’s Department of Chemistry and the Department of Mechanical Engineering, the concept also includes a new energy storage systems and materials that are claimed to ‘self-heal’.
Prof. Mircea Dinca of MIT’s chemistry department is investigating the potential of supercapacitors to optimize energy storage, which would allow the company to shed the weight of several kilograms worth of battery packs as well as preserve the high power, symmetrical behavior and the long lifecycle related to supercapacitor technology. This is in line with the application of low voltage supercapacitors in the V12 Aventador five years ago. The next logical step is the development of a storage system deliver high peak power and regenerate kinetic energy with very limited influence from aging and cycling during the vehicle’s life.
“The new Lamborghini collaboration allows us to be ambitious and think outside the box in designing new materials that answer energy storage challenges for the demands of an electric sport vehicle,” says Dinca.
Meanwhile, Lamborghini is also looking to further develop the design and production of carbon fiber structures and parts to take lightweight materials to the next level. That’s where mechanical engineering specialist Prof. John Hart comes in. Hart is investigating new manufacturing routes for carbon fiber materials that make up the bodyshell of the Terzo Millennio concept, which will also act as an accumulator for energy storage and enable the car’s body panels to be used as a storage system.
“We are thrilled to combine our expertise in advanced materials and manufacturing with the vision and support of Automobili Lamborghini, and to realize new concepts that will shape the future of transportation,” says Hart.
The technology also enables the Terzo Millennio to continuously monitor its carbon fiber structure and conduct its own health monitoring to detect cracks and damages in its substructure. Should it become damaged, a self-repairing process starts via micro-channels filled with healing chemistries, eliminating the risk of small cracks propagating further in the carbon fiber structure. This allows further weight reduction with increased use of carbon fiber and carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFK) to high-fatigue parts. Impressive stuff.
Lamborghini is also incorporating a virtual cockpit with an autonomous ‘Piloted Driving’ simulation feature which allows the driver to be taken around a track by a virtual expert before taking the wheel himself and experiencing the real car and circuit while following the virtual ghost car. This type of system could prove useful for those wanting to get the best lap times on a circuit, but will most owners enjoy this video game-inspired virtual reality fusion? Only time will tell.
Fundamental to a Lamborghini hypercar is sustaining the emotion of driving and an immersive experience. That’s where the responsiveness of the electric motors, the four-wheel torque control and the dynamic body control system comes into its own. Lamborghini hopes the consequent aerodynamics and innovative lightweight approach will result in a new dimension of longitudinal as well as lateral dynamics currently absent in all electrified cars.
The Lamborghini Terzo Millennio concept is a massive technological stride that looks towards solutions for the future of the supercar, augmenting the genre’s relevancy in the current social and environmental climate. The lessons learned in Lamborghini’s partnership with MIT will certainly trickle down into other vehicles over time, which will enable huge gains for electric vehicle manufacturers as a whole. Exciting times.