Automobili Lamborghini has become one of the driving forces in carbon-fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP) research. The Italian automaker runs two development facilities, the ACRC (Advanced Composite Research Center) and the ACSL (Advanced Composite Structures Laboratory), and collaborates with companies such as Boeing. The result is a “host of patents” for CFRP technologies, designed for the production of incredibly light yet strong and stiff automobiles. To show us all what’s possible when it kicks out the carbon fiber jams, Lamborghini has just unveiled its Sesto Elemento concept supercar at the 2010 Paris Motor Show.
The Sesto Elemento takes its name from the periodic table, in which carbon is classified as the sixth element. It’s a showcase for Lamborghini’s CFRP technology, with a great deal of the vehicle being constructed from the material – the monocoque passenger cell, front frame, body panels, crash boxes, major suspension components, wheel rims and even the propeller shaft are all made of CFRP. This results in a curb weight of just 999 kg (2,202 lbs). That’s pretty good, considering that the car is hauling around a naturally-aspirated V10 engine and permanent all-wheel drive.
Output is rated at 570 hp, with a power-to-weight ratio of 1.75 kilograms per hp, 0 to 100 km/h (0-62 mph) acceleration time of 2.5 seconds, and a top speed of over 300 km/h (186 mph). No fuel economy figures have been provided, but one would assume they’re not stellar. Given the car’s light weight, however, it would use much less gas than it would if it were constructed from heavier materials. Better fuel consumption and reduced CO2 emissions are two of Lamborghini’s goals with its CFRP usage, although achieving an optimum power-to-weight ratio is what the designers are really trying for.
Inside, minimalism appears to be the key word. There aren’t even any seat frames, with the seat cushions instead being affixed directly to the monocoque – instead of adjusting the seat to suit themselves, drivers would instead adjust the steering wheel and pedals. The console features just three piezoelectric buttons – engine start, reverse gear enable and lights. Not surprisingly, the techy-sexy carbon fiber is proudly unhidden, on display throughout the cabin.
So, will you be able to buy one? Well no, because you couldn’t afford it. But will a millionaire be able to? There’s presently no word on the Elemento ever reaching production, but much of the technology on display in the car will very likely find its way into Lamborghini’s existing and future models.
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