- Lamborghini’s 17 designers, led by Mitja Borkert, have been working remotely during COVID in Italy, Germany, Poland, South Korea, California and elsewhere.
- He explains how ‘MacGyver methods’ helped bring the Countach LPI 800-4 hybrid supercar to last August’s Quail Motorsports Gathering.
- Lamborghini will launch its first all-electric car in the second half of this decade, and Borkert declined to say how many design concepts are currently on the table.
COVID has hit us all hard, but imagine what it’s like for automotive design teams tending to the details of a brand new model while working individually at home in a dozen different time zones.
That’s how it’s been for the past two years for Lamborghini’s 17 designers, who are all scattered – in Italy, Germany, Poland, South Korea, California and many other places in between – working remotely in the interest of public health.
Lamborghini design chief Mitja Borkert tells Autoweek that “the last two years have been very challenging,” and he admits there were hectic conference calls in March 2020 as the world grappled with a pandemic and looked for ways to get the job done anyway to do.
Still, he can now smile about certain aspects – particularly the “MacGyver methods,” which were improvised using sketches taped to computer screens and lots of snapshots so the team could share ideas online.
“The Countach came out like this,” says Borkert, referring to the limited-edition (112 units) Countach LPI 800-4 V12 hybrid that debuted at the Quail Motorsports Gathering last August. He is satisfied that these unorthodox methods have resulted in a modern take on the legendary Countach of the 1970s and 1980s.
Even if COVID is defeated, Borkert, 48, says some members of his team will continue to design from home because they have been productive and “worked smart” while retaining a sense of “team spirit” and the best make virtual connections out of it.
“We’re very digital and we have young people using computer programs while they’re still sketching things,” he says. “It’s a modern way of doing things.”
As much as he wishes his entire team would once again be gathered at Automobili Lamborghini’s headquarters in Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy, Borkert doubts that will happen. “Honestly, we will never go back to the pre-COVID times because this digitalization gave us a boost,” he says, although he knows as boss that the overall process would be streamlined personally.
On the other hand, he knows that many of his designers prefer unusual working hours and are inevitably more productive when the boss is not constantly looking over their shoulder. “You have to be able to be yourself in order to develop an idea,” says Borkert.
Working from home proved fruitful as his team developed the sleek V10-powered Huracán Tecnica, which recently debuted at the New York Auto Show with a new bumper that includes an air curtain for the first time on a Huracán. The team also added a new front splitter for improved downforce and cooling, reshaped the rear end and redesigned parts of the interior.
Looking ahead, Lamborghini will launch its first all-electric car in the second half of this decade, and Borkert declined to say how many design concepts are now on the table.
“I can’t say directly, but stay tuned,” he says. “We will always deliver the unexpected.”
Born in the former GDR, Borkert became head of design at Lamborghini in 2016 after working at Porsche. Shortly before leaving, he worked on the Porsche Mission E concept, which debuted at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show and later became the all-electric Taycan.
He looks forward to leading Lamborghini into the battery-electric age, recognizing that the absence of exhaust pipes and other mechanical components allows for more design freedom. “But you have batteries, which are a big part of the package,” he says, not to mention the ability to repackage the front and back of a vehicle, with no engine or gas tank and no need to bleed the air through a radiator up front to let flow.
He recalls the 2017 Terzo Millennio electric supercar concept developed with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which featured supercapacitors for energy storage and a carbon fiber body, and was conceived as a “radical expression of aerodynamic superiority”.
“We always want to create something stunning, and we want to be the most visionary and always use cutting-edge technology,” says Borkert, promising that the first all-electric Lambo will carry on the brand’s dramatic design DNA and evolve into the future.
Are you looking forward to a production? all-electric Lamborghini, or do you think that there is no place in the lineup for such a car? Please comment below.
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