In the exotic world of high-end supercars, carbon-fibre and carbon composite construction is nothing new.
While body panels and chassis elements rendered from the material are now commonplace in higher-end sports cars, and carbon fibre wheels are also taking off, Lamborghini is looking at the next challenge for the exotic material.
In an interview with Automotive News at the opening of its new Advanced Composite Structures Laboratory in the USA, Lamborghini R&D chief Maurizio Reggiani revealed that carbon and carbon-fibre engine components are the next step for the Italian supercar firm.
"I hope that we are able to have something in production soon." Reggiani said, revealing that he expects to have development completed within 12 to 18 months.
The advantage of carbon-fibre engine components, like the engine’s connecting rods, are the same as they are for body construction, with weight reduced by around 40 to 50 percent compared to current forged-steel conrods.
Unlike traditional carbon construction, which involves pressing resin-filled carbon sheets into a mould and curing in an autoclave, a process that is both time and labour-intensive, Lamborghini is looking in a new direction.
By using forged composites, Lamborghini is able to start with a premixed solution of resin and carbon-fibre, apply it to a mould, and cure using heat and pressure in a process that takes just minutes compared with up to 12 hours using current methods.
The same construction method was used on the 2010 Sesto Elemento concept, with around 80 percent of the concept’s construction formed from forged composites.
Despite the Advanced Composite Structures Laboratory’s Seattle location, Lamborghini’s technical centre remains in Sant'Agata, Italy with the six-person ACSL team able to quickly turn around concepts provided by the Italian head office.
A production version of the carbon con-rod engine won’t make its way into the current Aventador however, with that car’s replacement likely to feature the new engine development instead, set to surface in 2021.
Before that happens though, Lamborghini is likely to display its engine construction achievements in concepts leading up to the engine’s eventual production debut.