The Lamborghini Murcielago is dead. Work is well underway on its replacement, the Lamborghini Aventador, and some details have dribbled out. Here’s the latest automotive equivalent of showing some ankle, the carbon fiber tub for the Aventador. The whole car will be revealed in just a couple of weeks at the Geneva Motor Show but for now, a view of the composite bones are it. The Aventador will be the first production Lamborghini to use composite instead of a metal core structure.
While the final product is described as a single shell, the central structure is assembled from a number of individual components with fibers oriented to maximize strength where needed. The components are bonded together and after the final curing process, it becomes essentially one large piece. The complete tub which includes the finished roof weighs in at about 324.5 pounds while the complete body-in-white tips the scales at 505 pounds. That’s lighter than your typical pair of midwesterners leaving Golden Corral.
The individual panels are fabricated from fiber mattes pre-impregnated with a precise amount of resin. The mattes are then laminated in molds and baked in an autoclave. Prepreg construction is more complex to manufacture, but it yields a class-A surface finish. Going this route removes the need for extra body panels to cover up a ghastly-looking structure, keeping weight in check. Well-finished surfaces also avoid looking like that bondo bucket in your driveway that waves back at you. In addition to the fiber-reinforced parts, the structure is augmented by epoxy foam components for extra stiffness.
The biggest downside to carbon fiber in street cars is a lack of repairability. A damaged carbon structure typically needs to be scrapped, although BMW is working on carbon structures that can be fixed for the upcoming MegaCity EV. Given the price of the Aventador, this probably won’t be an issue as owners will just replace broken parts. Most likely won’t be doing Eddie Griffin impressions, either, so it’s not much of a concern.
Eventually, some of this technology will make its way to mainstream vehicles to boost fuel economy and performance by reducing weight. For now, just the rich and credit-hyperextended get to play.