Speaking to Autocar, Lamborghini boss Stephan Winkelmann said a production version of the Asterion is now unlikely: "It was built to show what we would do if the regulations forced us to have 30 miles of electric range as well as high-speed performance,” he said. “Because of the weight of the batteries, we also took the opportunity to make the car bigger and roomier. We wanted to see customer reactions.
“They told us that they were open to innovation, including hybrid technology, but only if it came with the benefit of added performance. A Lamborghini super-sports car is driven maybe 3000 miles a year, not every day, so the electrification has to offer an added intensity to justify its inclusion.”
Unveiled at the Paris motor show last year, the Asterion was conceived to be more of a luxury daily cruiser than for "ultimate track performance." At the time, Lamborghini officials said a production variant of the Asterion would look to significantly undercut super-sports cars like the McLaren P1 and Porsche 918 on price - a cost of around £350,000 was mooted.
If made, the Asterion would have been a neat move for Lamborghini in the supercar wars. It would have broadened Lamborghini’s portfolio and opened the company up to customers who find today’s models too hardcore.
The firm did an unusually good job of keeping the Asterion concept under wraps prior to its reveal. Until it rolled on to the stage at a Volkswagen Group event on the night before the Paris show, the only news had been that Lamborghini would be showing a hybrid car. The assumption was that the car would be a variation of the new Aventador.
When the new car finally appeared in the spotlight, it took a few seconds for those in the audience to realise that this GT car was the new Lamborghini. And although it doesn’t look it, the Asterion actually has quite a degree in common with the Aventador and Huracán.
Described by Lamborghini as a “technology demonstrator”, the Asterion combines the Huracán’s 5.2-litre V10 with a new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, a lithium ion battery pack (in the space normally occupied by the Huracán’s forward-driving propshaft) and two electric motors on the front axle.
The main Aventador connection is the lower part of the carbonfibre monocoque, which the Asterion shares with the range-topping model. The front and rear subframes are most likely based on those of the Huracán.
Work on the concept “started a couple of years ago”, according to Maurizio Reggiani, Lamborghini’s head of research and development. “We began with an installation [of the prototype] hybrid drivetrain in a standard Aventador, so we wouldn’t gain any attention,” he says. “The idea was that we could have [internal] discussions on what type of hybrid would be suitable for Lamborghini. We needed to conduct an investigation of the behaviour of a plug-in system and the mix of the battery electric engine and [internal combustion] engine. We needed to test and exercise it. You can’t judge such a thing in a better way.”
Having settled on the exact recipe for the plug-in transmission, Reggiani says the idea for the actual concept car could be “refined”. He says: “We wanted under 100g/km and an autonomy [battery-only] range of 50km. In the future, we are sure in many cities when you drive downtown, you will need to travel fully electrically.”
Reggiani describes the somewhat unexpected Asterion package – which is mid-engined but looks rather like a classic, long-nosed, front-engined GT car – as a “plug-in with good handling. It offers more comfort in the interior and the exterior is less edgy”.