Not surprisingly, Lamborghini’s foray into electrification is unconventional in the extreme. Rather than following its rivals down the battery-electric path, the Italian supercar maker’s first hybrid uses a supercapacitor to store electrical energy which is fed to a small electric motor.
Compared to even the most advanced batteries, supercapacitors both charge and release their energy much faster and can tolerate many more charge and discharge cycles without degradation.
For the Sian, a 25kW motor is built into the gearbox to provide either an e-boost to the 577kW 6.5-litre V12, or power the hyper coupe purely on electricity during low-speed manoeuvring.
With such fast charging, the Sian doesn’t need to be plugged in to top up its supercapacitor. Instead, the full charge is achieved through regenerative braking each time the brake pedal is pressed, which also improves fuel consumption by recovering energy that would otherwise be wasted by conventional brakes.
The other key advantage to the capacitor approach is weight. With rapid power flow rates, the system can be much smaller while still delivering the punch of a large battery. As a result, the capacitor and motor add just 34kg to the overall weight, but top up the total power output to 602kW.
Done in a flash
The flash of a camera is a very visual representation of a conventional capacitor discharging a large amount of power in just milliseconds. The Sian, however, is equipped with a supercapacitor, which multiplies the thump sent to its motor for serious performance.
The downside to capacitors of any size is poor prolonged power storage, as the electricity contained within dissipates relatively quickly over time. Park your Sian for a week and there’ll be no pure EV power left when you come back.
Told you so
With low-voltage supercapacitor technology already in operation in the Aventador, and a partnership with MIT to design a supercapacitor system for the pure electric Terzo Millennio concept, it was only a matter of time before Lamborghini rolled out a full-fat production capacitor vehicle. Expect more to come.
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