STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Ferrari and Lamborghini say 'Not so fast' on electric supercars

Article Image

Electric vehicles have arrived in all forms from hypercars to ride-sharing autos to mobile living rooms.

Posted: Mar 20, 2019 5:50 PM
Updated: Mar 20, 2019 5:50 PM

Sure, a Tesla Model S sedan can go from zero to 60 miles an hour in 2.3 seconds, at least as quick as a supercar from Lamborghini or Ferrari. But both of those Italian automakers say electric car technology isn't ready for real high-performance supercars just yet.

That's because supercar performance means more than launching from a stoplight as fast as possible. It means rounding curves at high speeds and accelerating, not just from a dead stop but at high speeds, over and over again.

Electric cars need big battery packs to store enough power for acceleration and long driving range. Those battery packs usually weigh even more than a gasoline-powered car's engine and transmission. Makers of electric cars will often boast that the battery weight is down in the floor, providing for a lower center of gravity and, theoretically, better handling. But the simple fact is, more weight is just never good for a sports car.

Then there's the sound. Or, rather, the lack of sound. Ferrari and Lamborghini take pains to provide drivers with a rich symphony of rapid-fire internal combustion. The gentle whirring of electric motors can be cool in its own right, but it's far from the ripping metallic howl of a Ferrari V12. Fake engine noise could be pumped into the cabin — some automakers already do this, even in gasoline-powered cars — but Ferrari's chief technology officer, Michael Hugo Leiters, called the idea unthinkable for his brand.

"We have to have a certain credibility," he said at a press conference during the Geneva Motor Show.

Ferrari has said it plans to offer a new hybrid supercar in the near future, but that an all-electric Ferrari remains farther off.

Maurizio Reggiani, chief technical officer at Lamborghini, detailed the packaging challenges of big battery packs during a conversation behind the scenes at the Geneva Show. Yes, batteries can be laid down flat in the floor of the car, as they are in Teslas. But if you've ever sat in a Lamborghini sports car you'll know there's not much room between your seat and the road. Adding space for batteries would mean making the cars taller sacrificing much of that "low center of gravity" benefit.

Rimac, based in Croatia, makes electric supercars today albeit at extremely high prices, even by supercar standards. The Rimac C_Two costs over $2 million. The company also contributed engineering to the Pininfarina Battista, another $2 million electric supercar unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show earlier in March.

Founder Mate Rimac said he didn't start an electric supercar company because he wanted to save the environment. There are far betters ways to do that. He believes that electric propulsion, with its instant acceleration and precise control of power to the wheels, holds the promise of ultimate supercar performance.

It was surprising, then, to hear him agree with much of what engineers from Lamborghini and Ferrari had to say.

"What is a big challenge is long-term performance, thermal limitations of overheating batteries and powertrains," he said. "So that's something we are working really hard to solve and I think we can solve that but it's a big, big challenge."

Batteries can get hot when lots of power is pushed in and out of them quickly, limiting the amount of time a car can spend going full speed around a track.

Weight is also a major issue, he agreed. Rimac's car, he said, is most comparable to something like the Bugatti Chiron, a fairly large, heavy car designed to provide exhilarating performance but it's not really at home on a twisting race track.

Lamborghini's proposed solution is a technological long shot. The company is working with engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on the use of carbon nanotubes to store electricity in a car's body panels. The car body would become a supercapacitor. Supercapacitors take in and release energy much more rapidly than batteries can. But there are serious technological hurdles. For one thing, supercapacitors have trouble holding energy for a long time.

When the first electric supercars from companies like Ferrari and Lamborghini do come out, don't expect them to just stop making internal combustion engine cars, said Robert Sorokanich, the deputy online editor of Road & Track. Electric cars will always offer a different sort of performance from an internal combustion-powered car and there will be those who still prefer the experience of an Italian V12.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 15752

Reported Deaths: 739
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds100625
Lauderdale73862
Madison72423
Scott65012
Neshoba64639
Jones62928
Forrest56438
DeSoto5427
Rankin4398
Holmes42928
Leake42712
Copiah3124
Jackson30813
Attala29817
Yazoo2814
Newton2714
Leflore26431
Lincoln26329
Harrison2587
Monroe25725
Oktibbeha23912
Lamar2385
Lowndes2119
Pearl River20931
Wayne2041
Pike20311
Adams19915
Noxubee1866
Washington1787
Warren17310
Covington1652
Jasper1634
Bolivar16211
Lee1536
Smith15211
Kemper14411
Clarke14418
Lafayette1364
Chickasaw13512
Coahoma1254
Carroll11711
Winston1171
Marion1159
Clay1124
Claiborne1112
Lawrence1021
Simpson1010
Tate941
Grenada943
Yalobusha935
Hancock9111
Wilkinson889
Itawamba877
Montgomery851
Sunflower843
Union835
Marshall833
Jefferson Davis773
Tippah7311
Panola713
Webster692
Calhoun654
Amite641
Humphreys607
Walthall560
Tunica553
Prentiss533
Perry503
Choctaw432
Jefferson421
Pontotoc353
Quitman330
Tishomingo320
Stone300
Franklin292
Tallahatchie271
George251
Alcorn171
Benton150
Greene131
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 18075

Reported Deaths: 644
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2239116
Jefferson1837102
Montgomery171040
Tuscaloosa78315
Marshall6939
Franklin5567
Lee54833
Shelby51720
Tallapoosa42765
Butler41118
Chambers35525
Walker3542
Elmore3548
Madison3394
Baldwin2909
Morgan2801
Dallas2723
Etowah25711
DeKalb2483
Lowndes24612
Coffee2361
Sumter2247
Autauga2214
Houston2204
Bullock2095
Pike2030
Colbert1842
Hale1739
Russell1710
Marengo1706
Barbour1671
Lauderdale1642
Calhoun1603
Choctaw1538
Wilcox1487
Clarke1442
Cullman1430
Randolph1277
St. Clair1231
Marion12211
Pickens1164
Dale1150
Talladega1135
Limestone1060
Chilton1011
Greene944
Winston900
Macon824
Henry802
Covington801
Jackson782
Crenshaw753
Bibb751
Washington706
Escambia633
Blount621
Lawrence500
Geneva430
Conecuh411
Coosa401
Monroe402
Perry390
Cherokee373
Clay272
Lamar260
Fayette160
Cleburne151
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 84°
Columbus
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 82°
Oxford
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 79°
Starkville
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 73°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather