Automotive

Lamborghini Sián: The world's first supercapacitor-hybrid supercar

Lamborghini Sián: The world's ...
Sensual curves meet jagged angles in the remarkable Sian, Lamborghini's first hybrid and the first car in production history to use a supercapacitor hybrid system
Sensual curves meet jagged angles in the remarkable Sian, Lamborghini's first hybrid and the first car in production history to use a supercapacitor hybrid system
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The Sián's design is pure Lamborghini, and very out there
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The Sián's design is pure Lamborghini, and very out there
The Sián features savage front splitters and Y-shaped headlights
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The Sián features savage front splitters and Y-shaped headlights
The Sián is all straight lines and sharp angles from certain perspectives
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The Sián is all straight lines and sharp angles from certain perspectives
Glass slats on the Sián cover a pornographic naturally aspirated V12
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Glass slats on the Sián cover a pornographic naturally aspirated V12
Active aeros in the rear wing of the Sián
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Active aeros in the rear wing
This Sián is finished in "Verde Gea" with "Oro Electrum" accents
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This Sián is finished in "Verde Gea" with "Oro Electrum" accents
The Sián boasts outrageous star-shaped rims
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The Sián boasts outrageous star-shaped rims
Crafted by Lean
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The Y-shape theme of the headlights is carried through to the taillights
The Sián is a teenage dream made metal
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The Sián is a teenage dream made metal
The Sian's interior is curiously restrained
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The Sian's interior is curiously restrained
Digital dash and center console touch screen
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Digital dash and center console touch screen
The Sian's curves become apparent from other angles
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The Sian's curves become apparent from other angles
Unapologetically attention-seeking
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Unapologetically attention-seeking
The Sian in motion
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The Sian in motion
The most powerful, hardest-accelerating car Lamborghini has ever made
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The most powerful, hardest-accelerating car Lamborghini has ever made
The Sian looks dagger-sharp from low angles
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The Sian looks dagger-sharp from low angles
Lamborghini's designers are not given to subtlety or modesty
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Lamborghini's designers are not given to subtlety or modesty
Sensual curves meet jagged angles in the remarkable Sian, Lamborghini's first hybrid and the first car in production history to use a supercapacitor hybrid system
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Sensual curves meet jagged angles in the remarkable Sian, Lamborghini's first hybrid and the first car in production history to use a supercapacitor hybrid system

Lamborghini has chosen a radically different way of dipping its toe in the waters of hybridization with the announcement of its new Sián, which couples a screaming, naturally aspirated V12 engine with a supercapacitor-based secondary electric system.

Supercapacitors, as opposed to batteries, offer a unique set of advantages and drawbacks to automakers. They have enormous charge and discharge rates, meaning they can put out huge amounts of power, charge up almost instantly, and pull in a much larger amount of energy through things like regenerative braking, in which a battery's ability to accept charge becomes a limiting factor. They also don't deteriorate over time, maintaining their performance over millions of cycles.

On the other hand, their energy density is terrible in comparison to lithium-ion batteries. Even cutting-edge ultracapacitors like those from Nawa in France can only store about a quarter of the energy per volume that a regular lithium battery can – and lithium is far from energy dense itself in comparison to hydrogen or hydrocarbon fuels. They also stink at long-term energy storage, steadily leaking away what they've got stored up over the course of maybe a week or two.

Thus far, automakers have been hesitant to use them outside some interesting edge cases like supercapacitor buses, which use their formidable discharge rates to get giant, heavy vehicles moving quickly. So it's very interesting to see Lamborghini being the first to adopt the tech for its latest limited-edition supercar.

Having said that, the Sián is really all about its combustion engine, a roaring monster of a naturally aspirated V12. Making 785 horsepower @ 8,500 rpm thanks to titanium intake valves, it's the most powerful engine the company has ever built. The electric component, on the other hand, runs at a measly 48 volts and contributes a very modest 34 hp (25 kW) to bring the car's total peak output to 819 horses.

Lamborghini's designers are not given to subtlety or modesty
Lamborghini's designers are not given to subtlety or modesty

What's it good for, then? Well, you frankly need some electric assistance if you're going to accelerate with the big boys these days, and while Lamborghini has never lost its flair for outrageous design, it's been lagging far, far behind the rest of the field in sprint times of late. The Sián does 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in "less than 2.8 seconds," which might not impress anyone who's found the floor with the back of a Tesla accelerator pedal, but the instant torque of that puny e-motor helps to make this the quickest accelerating Lambo in history.

It also fills in some power delivery gaps, providing some instant shunt when you hit the gas pedal as the transmission scrambles to drop a couple of gears, and making sure acceleration is maintained through upshifts so you're constantly pressed back into your seat instead of jerked through the gear changes.

Lamborghini is also using the electric motor for fuss-free slow-speed reversing and parking maneuvers, and of course for regenerative braking. The company says "the Sián's energy storage system is fully charged every time the vehicle brakes," enabling "an instantly-available power boost" as you come out of a corner.

That gives us some sense of how much energy this supercapacitor will be able to store - ie. not much. This jives with the fact that nothing is mentioned about charging the capacitor when parked, suggesting that Lamborghini is purely charging this thing through the brakes, which raises the question: if you leave it parked nose-in to a wall for a few weeks, and the supercapacitor loses its charge, can you still reverse out of your parking spot using the gasoline engine?

Glass slats on the Sián cover a pornographic naturally aspirated V12
Glass slats on the Sián cover a pornographic naturally aspirated V12

The exterior design is just hysterical fun. Lamborghini's designers seem to have a unique license to go flat-out spaceship-level futuristic, particularly with special editions like the gob-smacking Egoista, which came with an orange-tinted jet fighter cockpit. The Sián doesn't go quite that far, but it's still a wonderfully space-age cacophony of sharp angles, straight lines, Y shapes and the odd sensuous curve.

There's nothing subtle about it, from the colossal starburst rims to the gaping air intakes at the hips and the lascivious peeks you get at the V12 engine through the carbon and glass slats on the back. It's a teenage dream carved into metal, and personally, I love it. There are plenty of other options out there these days if you prefer to be all classy and sensible with your bajillion-horsepower toys – this thing is bold, brassy and ... a weird shade of nuclear-waste green.

Digital dash and center console touch screen
Digital dash and center console touch screen

The interior, on the other hand, is a lot more laid back in black and tan leather with carbon accents, a loud digital dash and a small, but spunky touchscreen in the center console.

Production-wise, the Sián will be limited to just 63 units, each specified to the buyer's tastes and built for the first time in Lamborghini history using some 3D-printed parts – although we know not which parts. The public can take a look at this wild machine when it hits the Frankfurt Motor Show in a couple of weeks where New Atlas will be on the floor to take a closer look.

Source: Lamborghini

11 comments
vince
Sorry but accelerating from 0 to 60 isn't in league with the big boys. Try 0 to 60 in 1.9 seconds for the new 2020 Tesla Roadster.
minivini
Vince - you’re totally missing the point. Very few people will cross shop this vehicle with the Tesla. First, this car will cost at least five times the projected Tesla Roadster, and second this is a car that will appeal to the gas crowd - it’s a hybrid only in the most technical sense. At 2.8 seconds to 60mph, it’s doing just fine against other gassers. There will be faster cars, but none will wear the Bull on the hood, and that will move as many of these as Lamborghini needs. Meanwhile, this is the second or third design I’ve seen use an electric motor for reverse. That is just brilliant. If you’re going to have the motor anyway, the weight and complexity of a transmission with no reverse is a wonderful option!!
guzmanchinky
I do not think vince is missing the point at all. If I chose to spend the money on a supercar I would have one that can outrun any other at any time, and do it without the $20,000 tuneups required of the Aventador. The Tesla (and Rimac) are the world beaters and until Ferrari and Lambo come out with one of their own they will steal their lunches...
MarkmBha
Amazing.
Michael Shewell
Quite honestly, it, to me, is a far more visually pleasing car that most I've seen on the road at all, and I certainly like it more than the Tesla. Even the interior is sharp. I'd like to have either.
minivini
Guzman, the people buying the Sián will promptly take delivery and park it next to their three special edition Veyrons, laFerrari, and various sundry invaluable vintage works of art. There it will rot. The guy who buys the Sián will buy Porsche Taycans for all his kids to trash. Maybe (hopefully?) a few of these will see action on track days and maybe even be seen on a freeway near you, but trust me, the vast majority of these will serve as trophies of wealth and access.
guzmanchinky
minivini, Unfortunately you are 100% correct. I think the beauty of the Tesla (and the new Corvette if I'm honest) is that the Tesla is (relatively) simple as far as moving parts go, and the Corvette is cheap enough where people will actually go out and enjoy them...
minivini
Guzman, right on. An interesting part of the super-EV trend is an almost democratization of of hyper quick cars. With the Teslas, Rimacs, and the upcoming Taycan we are seeing unprecedented 0-60 and 0-100 times for money that, while expensive, makes million dollar cars seem superfluous. Honestly, there aren’t many Ferrari/Lambo cars that I find appealing any more in favor of vintage European models. One exception is the Lamborghini Asterion. That’s a lottery winning car for me.
GaryB
I suspect that you don't have to use electric power to reverse. Just use the gearbox as per normal.
sidmehta
Guys -- these cars are about handling, driving experience, throaty engine roar and sex appeal. 0 - 60 is just one of many things. I'd rather buy the Lambo. Not convinced? OK, are women going to turn their heads when you drive by in a Tesla? No. BTW, great use of super-caps. Excellent thinking.