For the plug-in purist, plug-in hybrids generally represent a car which offers some of the fun and zero emissions capability of a fully-electric car, but mitigates some of the worry and inconvenience of needing to find a charging station everywhere you go.
But increasingly for high-performance and luxury marques, plug-in hybrid drivetrains are being looked upon as a legitimate way of meeting ever-tightening emissions targets while simultaneously giving their customers what they really want: powerful, fast, no-compromise vehicles. As a consequence, companies like McLaren, Porsche and Rolls-Royce — firms which once mocked plug-in vehicles — are working hard to develop and produce plug-in variants of their vehicles for customers to enjoy.
Now Italian Supercar manufacturer Lamborghini can be added to the list of premium automakers who already make or are intending to make a plug-in hybrid vehicle, with the news that it is seriously considering building a plug-in hybrid supercar based on the Asterion concept car we first saw at the Paris Motor Show in September.
As Autocar reports, the luxury brand — now owned by the Volkswagen group — is in the process of making final production decisions for the Asterion. If approved, it would go on sale at some point in the near future for around £350,000, said Lamborghini boss Stephan Winkelmann.
That might seem like a lot for a plug-in hybrid, but compared with some of its closest rivals, most noticeably the McLaren P1 plug-in hybrid (which costs an eye-watering £732,300) the plug-in Lamborghini would be something of a deal.
Like its nearest rival, the Lamborghini Asterion isn’t designed as a vehicle capable of driving extended distances in electric only mode. Instead, its primary mode of operation would be to use its electric drivetrain to assist the powerful 5.2-litre V-10 gasoline engine at periods of high power demand. That, and improve the vehicle’s overall efficiency on paper, of course.
Yet while that might lead you to expect the Lamborghini Asterion to be nothing more than a plug-in compliance car, built to satisfy increasingly tough emissions requirements, Autocar says Lamborghini is shooting for a 50 kilometre all-electric range for the super-sexy supercar, at speeds of up to 78 mph. That’s partly thanks to more than 200 kilowatts of electrical power split between two motors at the front axle, which is more than enough to drive the car at low-speeds without firing up the gasoline V-10 monster.
When combined with the gas-guzzling V-10 a total of 898 brake horsepower is released, giving ballpark performance figures that suggest a sub 3-second 0-62 mph sprint time, and a top speed of close to 200 mph. And thanks to the front-wheel drive electric motor, rear-wheel drive gasoline layout, Lamborghini claims the Astereon is one of the best-handling cars they’ve worked on, with torque-vectoring on each wheel to ensure perfect, all-wheel drive traction at every turn.
We’re guessing most plug-in purists reading this will scoff at Lamborghini’s attempts and argue that Tesla’s all-electric Model S P85D — with a 245-mile range and 0-62 mph time of 3.2 seconds — is more than enough for anyone wanting to make the switch to electric. The same readers might argue that without a totally electric drivetrain, Lamborghini’s attitude to plug-in vehicles is outdated and laughable.
But for a moment, we’d just like to remind readers that not everyone is ready — or willing — to give up their gas-guzzling habits just yet. And while we too would love to see gasoline engines die out in favour of more advanced, greener fuel technologies, we’re also sure on one simple fact.
We’d rather Lamborghini fans — the ones who won’t make the switch to an all-electric vehicle — drove a plug-in hybrid than no plug-in at all.
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