You are here

Lamborghini Sesto Elemento An extreme lightweight in carbon fiber for sensational performance and handling

News International-French

22 Jan 2013

Lamborghini is redefining the future of the super sports car with a unique technology demonstrator. Boasting an extremely lightweight construction thanks to advanced carbon-fiber technology, the Lamborghini Sesto Elemento has an overall curb weight of just 999 kilograms - including V10 power unit and permanent all-wheel drive.

This makes the Sesto Elemento a unique demonstration of the technological expertise of Automobili Lamborghini. Innovative carbon-fiber technologies are being used here for the first time in an automotive application.

At the same time, fuel consumption also drops because of the extreme lightweight engineering applied throughout. The name of this technology demonstrator is derived from the periodic table, where carbon is classified as the sixth element. Thus, the Sesto Elemento demonstrates the worldwide leading expertise of Lamborghini in carbon-fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP) technology. The sports car brand from Sant'Agata Bolognese have mastered the complete CFRP process across a range of technologies, from 3D design through simulation, validation, production and testing all in a state-of-the-art industrial process that stands for the very highest quality standards. Lamborghini drives the technology development in its two research centers the ACRC (Advanced Composite Research Center) and the ACSL (Advanced Composite Structures Laboratory) through collaborations with organizations such as Boeing, with the resulting technology secured under a host of patents.

"The Lamborghini Sesto Elemento shows how the future of the super sports car can look - extreme lightweight engineering, combined with extreme performance results in extreme driving fun. We put all of our technological competence into one stunning form to create the Sesto Elemento," comments Stephan Winkelmann, President and CEO of Automobili Lamborghini. "It is our abilities in carbon-fiber technology that have facilitated such a forward-thinking concept, and we of course also benefit from the undisputed lightweight expertise of AUDI AG. Systematic lightweight engineering is crucial for future super sports cars: for the most dynamic performance, as well as for low emissions. We will apply this technological advantage right across our model range. Every future Lamborghini will be touched by the spirit of the Sesto Elemento."

Groundbreaking technology package
With the Sesto Elemento, Lamborghini's R&D engineers have put together a groundbreaking package. As a pure and radical concept, the Sesto Elemento is the unique synthesis of an extremely low curb weight of less than 1000 kilograms, enormous 570 hp output, the sensitive and prompt responsiveness of the high-revving, naturally-aspirated V10 engine and the superior traction and stability of permanent all-wheel drive there has never been a super sports car as thoroughbred as this. Sesto Elemento delivers an unbelievable degree of driving fun, concentrated on absolutely sensational dynamics.

Systematic use of carbon fiber
The basis is an extremely solid, stiff, safe and lightweight carbon-fiber structur: the monocoque cell of the Sesto Elemento. The entire front frame, the exterior panels and crash boxes are also made from CFRP. The Sesto Elemento's major suspension components and the rims are made from carbon fiber. The tailpipes are made from Pyrosic, which is an advanced glass-ceramic matrix composite, able to reach and stand very high temperatures up to 900° celsius. Even the propeller shaft is made of CFRP.

Amazing power-to-weight ratio
The Sesto Elemento demonstrates the outstanding expertise of Automobili Lamborghini in all areas of carbon-fiber technology. Carbon composite materials are a key technology for the automotive engineering of tomorrow, especially for high-performance sports cars. These materials made from carbon-fiber reinforced plastics combine the lowest weight with excellent characteristics they are extremely stiff and highly precise. Lighter cars improve fuel consumption and CO2 emissions: above all, however, it improves the power-to-weight ratio the crucial factor for a sports car and thus the performance. A super sports car built using CFRP accelerates faster, has outstanding handling and better braking.

Extreme lightweight engineering delivers extreme performance
The Lamborghini Sesto Elemento offers the ultimate proof; thanks to its sensational power-to-weight ratio of only 1.75 kilograms per hp, the concept car delivers unparalleled performance. From a standing start, the Sesto Elemento catapults itself to 100 km/h in a sensational 2.5 seconds. In the interests of completeness, it should also be mentioned that the top speed is well over 300 km/h. Extreme lightweight engineering and extreme performance come together in the Sesto Elemento to create an all-new dimension in super sports car driving.

On a Lamborghini, every single line has a clear function; the two vertical ribs at the front, for example, improve the stiffness of the component and guide the cooling air directly to the radiator behind them and to the brakes.
A major strength of carbon-fiber technology is that complex structures can be integrated into one single component. This improves quality and reduces weight. On the Lamborghini Sesto Elemento, the front and rear of the body-shell are each manufactured in a single piece. Engineers call this "cofango", created by combining the Italian word "cofano" (hood) with "parafango" (fender).

In the Lamborghini Sesto Elemento, the monocoque forms the complete passenger cell. Connected to it are the front subframe and the crash boxes, both also made using specialized carbon-fiber technologies. The extreme stiffness of this assembly guarantees not only a very high level of safety, but also unparalleled handling precision.
The suspension and the area around the engine have also been optimized with lightweight engineering. Alongside aluminum components, there are also carbon-fiber control arms: innovative forged composite technology is also well-suited to this kind of high-load part. These components are around 30 percent lighter than comparable aluminum parts. The propeller shaft is also made of CFRP by using wrapping technology. The rims are also made from CFRP, while the brake discs are from carbon-ceramic composite material. A similar composite material is used for the tailpipes on the exhaust system, the compound of ceramic powder and synthetic resin makes this carbon material extremely heat resistant.

Here, forged composite materials, prepegs and braids are used.

Forged composite materials: short carbon fibers are hot pressed in a mould. The process facilitates complex structures and is used for parts such as the underside of the monocoque and the suspension arms.

Prepreg: The carbon-fiber mats are soaked in a thermoset liquid resin. They are pressed in moulds and cured in an oven under heat and pressure.
Prepreg components have a very good surface finish and are therefore the preferred choice for use in visible areas.

Braiding: This is a method to manufacture composite filament derived from the textile industry. Each thread is diagonally intertwined on different levels.

New development center for carbon-fiber technology
Lamborghini possesses many years of experience with carbon-fiber reinforced materials. As far back as 1983, it produced the first prototype CFRP chassis for the Countach, with the first series production parts appearing in 1985. The current Lamborghini Murciélago is made largely from CFRP, its body-in-white contains 93 kilograms of carbon-fiber materials. The engine cover panel of the Gallardo Spyder is one of the largest CFRP components with class A surface quality in the automotive world. The company is now working steadily to expand its worldwide leading position.

The new Advanced Composites Research Center (ACRC) at the company headquarter in Sant'Agata Bolognese is working on innovative construction and production methods for carbon-fiber elements in automobile design. The Advanced Composite Research Center in Sant'Agata Bolognese secures leading-edge research on innovative materials and production methods for carbon fiber elements for small production volumes. Here, over 30 experts develop vehicle components of all shapes and sizes. They build prototypes and the associated production tools while developing optimized production technologies. Sophisticated systems largely developed in-house allow extremely high precision levels as engineers simulate manufacturing processes as well as carry out crash tests on complex carbon-fiber structures. Thanks to the extensively patented "RTM Lambo" process, Lamborghini can use minimal pressure and relatively low temperatures to manufacture carbon-fiber components to the highest levels of quality, precision and surface finish, from small parts to complexvehicle structures. Further benefits include higher process speeds, lower costs, and extremely light tooling.

The Lamborghini Advanced Composite Structures Laboratory (ACSL) at the University of Washington uses experimental tests to define the mechanical behavior of the different materials and technologies using methodology from the aviation industry. The team of research engineers in Seattle works with very specific instruments and methods in close cooperation with the R&D headquarters and the ACRC in Sant'Agata Bolognese.


More information: