We should maintain the combustion engine as long as possible, says Lambo and Bugatti boss Winkelmann – paultan.org12/14/2020
Last month, Stephan Winkelmann was officially announced as president and CEO of Automobili Lamborghini. Already head of Bugatti, he is now assuming a double role and is head of both Volkswagen Group’s supercar brands. Having been the game changing CEO of Lamborghini from 2005 to 2016, it was a homecoming for the 56-year-old.
The sharp suited German-born boss was three days into his new-old seat in Sant’Agata Bolognese when Top Gear caught up with him. The Brits asked good questions, and the little that Winkelmann shared will be sweet music to car lovers.
The man knows what needs to be done in this changing climate where electric is not just the future, but is already at our doorstep. But Winkelmann, more than anyone else perhaps, would understand the essence of brands like Lamborghini and Bugatti. Those hallowed marques couldn’t be in safer hands.
Will there be an electric future for Lamborghini? “I think there is a future because of the people developing the future. And for that future it’s important to tackle the needs of legislation and environment with the expectations of the customers. This is the biggest challenge in my opinion. I see what (Maurizio) Reggiani (Lambo’s R&D head), Mitja (Borkert, chief designer) and the team at Sant’Agata have imagined, and it’s something that I can really buy into,” Winkelmann said, declining to share details.
“I think the DNA of a Lamborghini is a super sports car with a design which is immediately recognisable but also a product that is at the peak of all the competitors by delivering a balance between acceleration and handling attitude. For Lamborghini, this is much more important in my opinion than top speed, even if our top speed is beyond 330, 340 km/h. Top speed is not the big discussion of tomorrow,” he told TG.
“But now we are entering this new period of partial electrification, how do we deliver the power to weight and agility? Even with the additional weight of the batteries, it’s something which is important to achieve. I think this is where Lamborghini has a big word to say. The V12 is one of the things we have to update because it’s core to the history of the brand,” Winkelmann declared, confirming the V12’s immediate future.
Lambo’s new-old boss concedes that with electrification, some of the brand’s ICE advantage will be chipped away. But the firm’s goal is still to be the best of its kind. “Due to the legislation, we will have to do some type of electrification, and that will lead to a reset of the competition. The competition must be amongst the same type of cars. We have to be better than the previous model; whether it is a naturally aspirated or turbo engine,” he said.
“And the new generation, whether it is a hybrid or not, has to be better than the previous one. But also – and this is the bigger challenge – it has to be the best in the segment. And this is what we’ll be able to work on,” he added.
Remember that we’re talking about electrification, and not fully electric cars. Those will have to wait, at least for Lambo and Bugatti. “I don’t see BEVs for hypercars or super sports cars now or this decade. So neither for Bugatti nor for Lamborghini. Maybe close to the end of the decade, and when we know a bit about legislation, acceptance, range, charging time, costs, performance etc,” Winkelmann said.
“We need to come to a point where we have a better understanding. We might test things out with our closest customers, but we have a constant discussion with them about future developments. I cannot rule it out but it’s not for the time being,” he added, firmly.
The Lamborghini naturally-aspirated V12, the Bugatti Chiron’s 8.0 litre turbocharged W16 with 1,500 PS – these ICE beasts are clearly at odds with the eco concerns that has accelerated electrification. Should cars like the Chiron be put away for good, now?
The Lambo/Bugatti chief takes a different view. “The Chiron is a collector’s item. It’s something which is maybe the last of its kind. It’s about holding or increasing its value over the decades. It’s the peak of current automotive technology. It’s possibly the last time a combustion engine like that can be done. But remember, the average mileage of a Chiron is one thousand miles a year. It’s a low volume car; less than 100 a year. So we are not massively impacting emissions worldwide. So, if it’s possible, we should maintain the combustion engine as long as possible,” Winkelmann ended.
Let’s hear that once again. “We should maintain the combustion engine as long as possible”. Salute!
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