LESS WEIGHT, MORE PERFORMANCE
“The systematic development of carbon fiber technology is an important part of our strategy,” says Stephan Winkelmann, President and CEO of Automobili Lamborghini S.p.a. “Weight reduction is becoming a central issue for sports car manufacturers because the scope to further increase performance is limited by emission curbs.” In fall 2010, Lamborghini gave a foretaste of the future of lightweight construction at the Paris Motor Show with the pioneering Sesto Elemento (“Sixth Element”): Producing 570 PS from a V10 engine and weighing in at just 999 kilograms, it achieves a sensational weight-to-power ratio of 1.75 kilograms per PS. The Sesto Elemento is a marriage of high performance and lightweight design – thanks to carbon fiber materials in the vehicle structure, the body outer skin, the chassis and the drivetrain, where the ultra-light material can be found in the control arms, the propeller shaft and even in the rims.
Future technology that is far too expensive for series production. For the moment. However, Lamborghini has already set the wheels in motion with a number of future technologies already being implemented in the new Aventador. Weighing just 1,575 kilograms with a weight-to-power ratio of 2.25 kilograms per PS, the latest addition to the Lamborghini family sets a new record for series-produced sports cars. Its body is around a third lighter than that of predecessor model Murciélago. This massive weight reduction is thanks to the monocoque passenger cell of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic and a newly developed aluminum frame structure replacing the steel frame structure previously used in Lamborghini’s V12 class.
WHETHER ON THE ROAD OR IN THE AIR, EVERY KILOGRAM COUNTS
By this stage, lightweight construction expert De Oto and Lufthansa’s Head Pilot are wholly immersed in the world of innovative materials, discussing development ideas for cars and planes centered on carbon fiber-reinforced plastics. Boeing is regarded as a pioneer in the use of carbon materials for aircraft construction. The US manufacturer plans to use carbon fiber composites for specific areas, including aircraft window frames. And the carbon material that Boeing is currently putting through its paces is exactly the same as the kind that Lamborghini is testing for body parts.
Once a month, De Oto flies to Seattle, home of Boeing. Lamborghini has its own small laboratory at the city’s university where – in close cooperation with the aircraft manufacturer – researchers test the behavior of carbon materials. De Oto will also be spending more time studying golf equipment in the near future. This is because Lamborghini and Callaway, the US golf club manufacturer renowned for the “Big Bertha” super driver, have joined forces with a view to developing new carbon fiber composite structures. According to De Oto, the focus is on material with microscopically small carbon fiber components. These are not only very light and stable, but can also be produced economically in small series.
De Oto goes into great detail, explaining what is meant by “500,000 intertwined fibers per square inch” and shows his German guest a selection of parts made from the new material. Both men touch, bend and examine the various components closely. De Oto firmly believes that the new material will be instrumental in shaping the future of automotive production. This is also because a new, patented manufacturing process called “Forged Composite” allows engineers – at both Lamborghini and Callaway – to attain a whole new level of precision when producing carbon components. Lamborghini has already mastered all phases of carbon fiber component production at its plant in Sant’Agata – from 3-D-Design to simulations, tests, production and protection.
ON THE SAME WAVELENGTH WHEN IT COMES TO LIGHTWEIGHT CONSTRUCTION – Lufthansa Head Pilot Werner Knorr and Luciano De Oto, Head of the Advanced Composites Research Center in Sant’Agata. Lamborghini and aircraft constructor Boeing, a pioneer in the use of carbon materials in aircraft construction, are working together to develop carbon fiber materials.