(NEW YORK) – Walk into a Lamborghini dealership and prepare for bad news.
The wait time for the new Huracan STO supercar, a track weapon with a conspicuous carbon fiber wing, air ducts and a shark fin, is at least a year. The same goes for the Italian brand’s muscular Urus sport utility vehicle. The Aventador LP 780-4 Ultimae, the automaker’s latest supercar with a naturally aspirated V-12 engine, sold out instantly when it was unveiled last July.
Lamborghini, Cadillac, Porsche and Mercedes build some of their best sports cars before hybrid and electric powertrains dominate the road. Industry watchers say consumers are rushing to buy performance cars with powerful V-8, V-10 and V-12 engines for one reason: a boycott of electrification.
“After 130 years of internal combustion engines, these companies need to write one last love letter to the industry, to their fans, and come out strong,” said Tyson Jominy, vice president of data and analytics. at JD Power, at ABC News. . “Battery cars can’t replicate the sound, vibration and feel of an ICE sports car.”
Cadillac, the luxury brand of General Motors, will exclusively manufacture electric cars by 2030, with the futuristic crossover SUV Lyriq the first to go on sale in the spring of 2022. Before that, Cadillac gave performance fans one last hooray: street predators CT4-V Blackwing (472 horsepower) and CT5-V Blackwing (668 horsepower), two sports sedans with boosted V6 and V8 engines that deliver a visceral and exhilarating driving experience.
“The reception has been so amazing, beyond what I expected,” Cadillac chief engineer Tony Roma told ABC News. “It speaks to the quality of these cars. Few cars reward driving experience.
These cars mark the end of an era for Cadillac, Roma said, adding that neither he nor his team realized their importance until halfway through the development process.
“The Blackwings are a swan song for the internal combustion engine and the V-8,” he said. “The pressure was on us. Obviously, these cars were designed for the ultimate enthusiast. We were obsessed with lap times and measurements.
He added: “But performance doesn’t go away with electric vehicles.”
Karl Brauer, executive analyst at iSeeCars.com, said enthusiasts are frantically buying ICE sports cars — even used ones — before they’re gone. The long wait times for new Porsches and Lamborghinis on top of the absurd markup on car prices send a signal to automakers that electrification has its downsides, he argued.
“There are two opposing forces – the hardcore enthusiasts, who make up a small fraction of the market – and the government,” Brauer told ABC News. “Usually the enthusiasts lose.”
He pointed to Ferrari’s 458 Speciale, a mid-engine sports car with a naturally aspirated V-8 engine that was produced from 2010 to 2015.
“This car didn’t have electrification and everyone wants one now,” he said. “He represented the latest generation of traditional Ferrari engineering.”
Brauer said he is watching closely to see if any sports car makers are keen on electrification.
“I don’t see it as an asset. Electrification is not yet fully developed,” he explained. “I sincerely believe that there are a number of enthusiasts who are starting to panic about electric vehicles.”
Andrea Baldi, CEO of Lamborghini America, conceded that owners still crave gasoline thrills.
“There’s still a huge appetite for internal combustion engines,” Baldi told ABC News. “Today, there is no doubt, everyone prefers them. It is what they consider to be the purest expression of a super sports car.
STO, the newest addition to the Huracan family, sprints from 0 to 62 mph in 3 seconds and huffs when the driver holds onto the throttle. The hardcore supercar’s naturally aspirated V-10 engine produces 630 horsepower and will likely be Lamborghini’s last; a plug-in hybrid successor is coming in 2024.
The next generation of the Aventador, Lamborghini’s flagship model with a fierce V-12, will come with a cord for charging an electric battery in 2023. A fully electric Lamborghini will be launched in the second half of the decade.
Baldi, however, said the legendary automaker isn’t ditching its legendary V-10 and V-12 engines. But the company realized it couldn’t continue producing gas-guzzling sports cars in an era of increasing regulation.
“What we see in the Huracan and Aventador successors will be dramatically disruptive,” Baldi said. “The V-10 and V-12 engines will soon reach their full potential.”
German automaker Mercedes-Benz will go all-electric by 2030, with a battery-powered option for every vehicle by 2025. By then, Mercedes-AMG CEO Philipp Schiemer said the company will offer more V-8 sports cars like the completely redesigned AMG SL roadster, which replaces the AMG GT coupe.
“There are still three years to go and there are still more exciting projects to come,” he told ABC News. “There is consistently high demand for our V8 models. I’m pretty sure we’ll still be seeing, feeling and driving the V-8 for some time to come.
The seventh generation SL, an automotive icon since its launch in 1954, received modern updates like all-wheel drive and a power folding fabric roof in this iteration. Two powerful engine configurations are also available: a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 developing 480 hp in the SL 55 or 560 hp in the SL 63. A plug-in hybrid SL will arrive next year.
“Mercedes-AMG is in full transition and well prepared for a purely electric future,” Schiemer said. “The V-8 is not dead. It will also survive in combination with our E Performance hybrid technology.
Porsche’s nimble mid-engine 718 Cayman and Boxster sports cars will go electric by 2025, according to a report by Car and Driver. That may explain the massive demand for the 2023 Cayman GT4 RS, a naturally aspirated 493-hp road rocket with a 9,000-rpm redline. Even long-time Porsche owners can’t get one. A Porsche spokesperson did not confirm the 718 report, telling ABC News, “As a matter of principle, we are unable to comment on speculation about future products.”
Ralph Gilles, design director at Stellantis and avid enthusiast, has promised that Dodge’s Charger and Challenger muscle cars will still appeal to fanatics when they go electric. Dodge is gearing up to launch an electric muscle car by 2024, according to CEO Tim Kuniskis, with production of the revered Hellcat supercharged V-8 engine ending next year.
“We are quite confident that we have several good solutions that will be an alternative visceral stimulus. We are going to vibrate in a different way,” Gilles told ABC News.
Brauer is skeptical; Hellcat muscle cars are “selling like crazy” and collectors are “rushing” to get one, he said. Jominy, however, disagrees.
“The muscle car segment is shrinking rapidly. An electrified powertrain gives it relevance,” he said.
Cadillac’s Roma recognized that building performance electric vehicles is more difficult and that engineers are struggling with the emerging technology.
“Can you cool the battery, can you make the car light enough? It all gets harder,” he said. “There is no set recipe for an EV performance car.”
Enthusiasts will have to accept that internal combustion engines won’t make a comeback, Jominy explained.
“The train does not stop. Electrifying cars is the way forward in terms of performance, not just emissions,” he said.
There is a silver lining, however: this recent generation of sports cars will at least satisfy the desires and desires of performance die-hards and muscle car fans.
“Automakers are coming out with their best engines. These are going to be some of the most sought-after vehicles,” Jominy said.
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