Lamborghini’s 17 designers, led by Mitja Borkert, have been working remotely in Italy, Germany, Poland, South Korea, California, and elsewhere during COVID.
He explains how “MacGyver methods” helped bring the Countach LPI 800-4 hybrid supercar to the Quail Motorsports Gathering last August.
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 on the table now.
COVID’s been hard on all of us, but imagine what it’s like for automotive design teams fussing over the details of an all-new model while working individually at home, in a dozen different time zones.
This is what it’s been like for two years for Lamborghini’s 17 designers, each one scattered about—in Italy, Germany, Poland, South Korea, California, and many other points in between, working remotely for the sake of public health.
Lamborghini design chief Mitja Borkert tells Autoweek the “last two years have been very challenging,” and he admits there were frantic conference calls in March 2020, when the world was grappling with a pandemic and figuring out ways to still get the job done.
Still, he can chuckle about certain aspects now—particularly the “MacGyver methods” improvised with sketches taped to computer screens and lots of snapshots, so the team could share ideas online.
“The Countach came out that way,” Borkert says, referring to the limited-edition (112 units) Countach LPI 800-4 V12-powered hybrid that debuted at the Quail Motorsports Gathering last August. He is satisfied these unorthodox methods led to a modern interpretation of the iconic Countach of the 1970s and ‘80s.
Even if COVID is conquered, the 48-year-old Borkert says some members of his team will continue designing from home because they’ve been productive and “working smart,” while maintaining a sense of “team spirit,” making the most of virtual connections.
“We are very digital, and we have young guys using computer programs while still sketching things,” he says. “This is a modern way to do things.”
As much as he’d like his entire team assembled once again at Automobili Lamborghini headquarters in Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy, Borkert doubts it will happen. “Honestly, we will never go back to the times before COVID because this digitalization, it has given us a boost,” he says, even though as the boss he knows the overall process would be streamlined in person.
On the other hand, he recognizes many of his designers prefer to work unusual hours and are bound to be more productive if the boss isn’t constantly looking over their shoulder. “You need to be able to be yourself to create an idea,” Borkert says.
The process of working from home proved successful as his team developed the lithe V10-powered Huracán Tecnica, unveiled at the recent New York auto show with a new bumper incorporating an air curtain for the first time in a Huracán. The team also added a new front splitter for improved downforce and cooling, reshaped the rear, and redesigned parts of the interior.
Looking forward, 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 on the table now.
“I can’t say directly, but stay tuned,” he says. “We will always deliver the unexpected.”
Borkert, originally from the former East Germany, became head of design at Lamborghini in 2016 after working at Porsche. Shortly before leaving, he worked on the Porsche Mission E concept that debuted at the 2015 Frankfurt auto show and went on to become the all-electric Taycan.
He’s excited about bringing Lamborghini into the battery-electric age, recognizing that the lack of exhaust pipes and other mechanical components allows for more design freedom. “But you have batteries defining a lot of the package,” he says, not to mention the potential to repackage the front and rear of a vehicle, with no engine or gas tank and no need to keep air flowing through a radiator up front.
He recalls the 2017 Terzo Millennio electric supercar concept that was developed with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, incorporating supercapacitors for energy storage and a carbon-fiber body shell and designed to be “a radical expression of aerodynamic supremacy.”
“We always want to create something stunning, and we want to be the most visionary and always use cutting-edge technology,” Borkert says, while promising that the first all-electric Lambo will carry over the brand’s dramatic design DNA and advance it into the future.
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