Composites Manufacturing Magazine

Lamborghini Terzo Millennio Can Store Electric Energy and Heal Itself

Last week, during the EmTech MIT Conference, Lamborghini unveiled a prototype of the Terzo Millennio – a concept for a future electric supercar. The reveal came roughly one year after Lamborghini and MIT announced they would collaborate on a new generation of sports cars.

The technological goal of the Terzo Millennio project is to enable Lamborghini to address the future of the super sports car in five different dimensions: energy storage systems, innovative materials, propulsion system, visionary design and emotion. MIT engineering professor Anastasios John Hart heads the material science side of the collaboration. Hart and Lamborghini are working on developing a new carbon fiber body shell for the Terzo Millennio that will be able to store electrical energy. These body panels will use electricity-storing carbon nanotubes sandwiched between two laminates of carbon fiber.

“To support this revolution in energy storage systems, materials and their functions have to change, too,” Lamborghini said. “Lamborghini aims to further develop its leadership in the design and production of carbon fiber structures and parts, enhancing its ability to develop features and functions that take lightweight materials to the next level.”

The project also aims to combine the technology to continuously monitor the whole carbon fiber structure, both visible and invisible, with the concept of “self-healing.” The purpose of the self-healing technology is to give the Terzo Millennio the ability to conduct its own health monitoring to detect cracks and damages in its substructure after accidents. If the car detects damage to the carbon fiber, micro-channels can generate heat to seal cracks and mitigate risk of any further damage. Lamborghini says this tech will allow carbon fiber to be used more extensively throughout the car to reduce the vehicle’s weight.

The monocoque of the Terzo Millennio will be made with Lamborghini’s signature Forged Composite technology, during which shredded carbon fiber threads are combined with resin and sandwiched between two steel molds. The composite is then heated and placed under 1,200-1,500 psi of pressure. Three minutes later, the component is ready. The process drastically reduces the time it usually takes to bake layers of carbon fiber cloth separated with resin in an autoclave and also cuts production costs significantly.

“The new Lamborghini collaboration allows us to be ambitious and think outside the box in designing new materials that answer energy storage challenges for the demands of an electric sport vehicle,” said Stefano Domenicali, Chairman and CEO of Lamborghini. “We look forward to teaming up with [MIT’s] engineers and work on this exciting project.”