Lamborghini gets rid of all the things we don't like about electric cars
I'd just like to start by saying that I don't know all that much about electricity, except that when you flick the switch on the wall, the bulb hanging off the roof goes bright. And when it doesn't, it means it's time to go to Bunnings and buy a new one.
It all happens in the blink of an eye, which is why it's not too surprising that when you put this sparky stuff into a car, you can put your foot down and the car will take off. Just like that. At the moment, this is all down to motors supplied with power by batteries, or hydrogen if you're Hyundai, but Lamborghini has recently found another way and - not to be all melodramatic - it is possibly some of the better news we've had about the future of the car.
It's called "Supercap", and it better be good, because immediately I can see visions of people calling it "supercrap" if it isn't. What it is, is a supercapacitor.
We saw it first in the Sian supercar (you can see what they did there), but since then, Lamborghini have tinkered away at it further, now with added brains from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT for short. The last time these two worked together, the result was the rather futuristic, but Roomba-looking Lamborghini Terzo Millenio concept. This time, they've filed patents for a new synthetic material that is said to improve energy density by up to 100% compared to anything we've ever known.
This is very big news. But before we go any further, it would be helpful to know what a supercapacitor actually is.
Unfortunately, however, after not very long researching it, my eyes glossed over. So instead, here's what it will look like:
At the moment, the Lamborghini Sian has a 6.5-litre V12 petrol engine that makes 557 kW. A further 25 kW is added by an electric motor in the transmission, for a total of 602 kW. This electric motor is powered by a supercapacitor, which is said to be three times more powerful than a battery of the same weight.
The new "supercap" will offer double that. So that would be 50 kW from the electric motor, making a grand total of 652 kW. And with no extra weight.
In short then, this new electrical thing is smaller, lighter, and more powerful than the rather old and cumbersome lithium-ion battery pack. But it doesn't stop there.
At the moment, owning an electric car is a bit tedious. Not only does it not make any noise, but sooner or later, you'll have to fill it up with electricity again, which currently gives you enough time to play a game of Monopoly. Or you'll have to listen to someone tell you that you're still not friends with the Arctic fox because you have to throw the batteries into landfill every few years.
Two things about the supercapacitor: first, it takes mere minutes to recharge, and second, it lasts longer. This is all jolly brilliant.
However, for those of us who like to drive further than the local post office, it isn't. The current set-up in the Sian only offers 5-10 kilometres of pure electric range. But - and here's the thing - as we learnt earlier, a new Sian with the new technology would offer 100% more energy density. Which is another loose way of saying, 100% more range.
The only hurdle with the supercapacitor has just been jumped over. The future is bright. Still quiet obviously, which is annoying, but bright.