Lamborghini Legend Valentino Balboni Reflects on EVs and the Future of Cars

Valentino Balboni was Lamborghini’s chief take a look at driver for 33 years, testing all the pieces from the Lamborghini Countach to the Gallardo. For followers of the model, his identify is synonymous with driving 12-cylinder automobiles almost 200 mph on public roads (legally). Lamborghini even constructed a particular Balboni edition Gallardo after he retired from the corporate. Once we caught up with him, although, he was take a look at driving and consulting on a really completely different form of efficiency automobile: an electrical automobile known as the Drako GTE.

MotorTrend: I feel it will shock lots of people since you are so well-known in your time with Lamborghini, and that is very, very completely different than what Lamborghini does. The query individuals will ask is: Why are you curious about EVs?

Valentino Balboni: Good query. I’m right here as a result of I prefer to expertise day by day. I would like slightly one thing. I’m nonetheless eager to study one thing. I by no means mentioned, “OK, now I don’t care [about] something.” I learn. I’m up to date. I drive. I get pleasure from. All the pieces which is automobile is a part of my life. I’ve to replace myself to that. I’ve to comply with the road. After all, I perceive that it’s unusual for me being a Lamborghini nut and being a lifelong Lamborghini [employee]. Being right here at the moment, it might sound unusual. It might, but it surely’s a part of my nature. It’s a part of my character. Study, and be up to date with my world, which was this manner and now could be that approach. Simply be there.

I mentioned, “Why not? I’m nonetheless in love with automobiles and nonetheless in love with my job. I nonetheless work on the automobiles,” so I nonetheless persist with my ardour and my love. Why not expertise new issues? Why not? I’m respectful of this future, and I left [Lamborghini] on one of the best [terms].

It’s a really optimistic expertise. Assembly individuals. Studying, as a result of that is, for me, it’s new. Once I take heed to the technician explaining, it makes form of sense. It’s related with the automobile. Electrical or not, but it surely’s a automobile that we’re speaking. I discover this good. It’s a brand new world; we have now to know that there’s a brand new world. Lamborghini at the moment is growing a restricted variety of automobiles which will likely be I feel 10- or 12-car [run] with a 12-cylinder engine however with extra electrical motors. It brings the ability to 780 to 800 hp. That is the path. We’ve to study.

There are nonetheless factors the place they should be improved. Weight, batteries. That is weak point. It’s a degree the place there’s so much to do, however let’s say, even a automobile of 100 years in the past was not a automobile in comparison with the trendy automobile. It’s this sort of progress, we have now to pay for it and take it.

Pleasure of driving an electrical automobile: it’s a pleasure. Driving one other automobile with a carburetor or with gasoline injection, similar energy, much less energy, is a automobile. Is a wonderful feeling. Totally different feeling, completely different state of affairs, but it surely’s at all times a pleasure. I don’t know if I’m explaining myself in the appropriate approach, however a automobile is a automobile. That is electrical and I’m an old school man, however I respect and agree with the long run. I respect that.

MT: This appears like the long run to you?

VB:  This must be the long run. See, Lamborghini, Maserati, Ferrari, they’re at all times holding so long as attainable the petrol engine, no matter, however on the aspect, they’re growing [electrics]. They’re now growing the opposite one. Lamborghini with the Sian: 800 horsepower, 700 from the petrol engine, and 100 horsepower extra with an electrical extra engine. With EVs, we’re utterly reverse. We’ve no compromise. It’s a approach of seeing, going with a sure development or going from zero to increase, EV.

MT: Do you assume it is going to be troublesome for firms like Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini to make this alteration after they have a lot historical past and a lot ardour for the petrol engine?

VB: You’re proper. That is one other good query. Effectively, it is going to be troublesome. Most likely it is going to be harder to vary the mentality of the customers, however I’m positive the brand new technology, thankfully, they’re not so conscious of the previous. They are going to take it simpler. The transition is harder for us. Even if you’re very younger, you skilled what it was, and you’re experiencing what it is going to be. It’s at all times a matter of discovering the appropriate stability, the appropriate approach of approaching this sort of fashionable state of affairs.

MT: Do you assume that younger individuals sooner or later will be capable to have the identical ardour, the identical type of feelings for his or her automobiles that we had prior to now for our petrol automobiles?

VB: That is much more troublesome to reply. I feel the eagerness within the tradition of the automobiles will at all times keep. I feel through the years, however a few years to return, it’ll most likely stability, however at the start it’s troublesome. An excessive amount of distinction, an excessive amount of tradition. You already know, time at all times helps restoration from earlier accidents.

It’s query. I actually don’t know. I imply, from my perspective, I’ll at all times say, “Geez, I skilled one of the best time of my life.” I’m very fortunate, however I’m positive individuals could have enjoyable additionally driving this sort of automobile, they’ll present a unique approach of approaching or viewing this case. It’s query.

MT: Do you assume it’s the identical for racing?

VB: Racing? For instance, System One from ’50s, ’60s. Wheels like this [skinny]. 200 miles per hour. In comparison with a System One in every of yesterday, I don’t need to say at the moment. Say yesterday. Your entire wings, pc, electronics, we nonetheless like it. We nonetheless love System One. We nonetheless love what it was 50, 60 years in the past since you, me are passionate. We’re assured, let’s say. New technology, after they see finally a film or a video of System One automobile with the man with the goggles flying with driving, do they settle for it or not? Do they assume it’s a System One?

We’re essentially the most fortunate of this time of life as a result of we all know what we had, and we respect what’s coming. I feel like this. Fortunate to have skilled this better of my life. I by no means thought at some point to be right here speaking or judging or giving impression of EVs. I believed so much earlier than taking this sort of engagement at the moment, “Geez, am I doing the appropriate approach? Am I saying the appropriate issues,” as a result of I’m a lot respectful of what I did on my life and consideration I’ve, however that is the long run. That is the long run. Should you see the scenes from a proper approach and an accurate approach, that is the long run. Lamborghini is doing the identical factor. Ferrari is doing the identical factor. Right here, we have now an excessive. We’ve a complete automobile, however historical past is historical past.

MT: Are you able to get the identical emotions from EVs as gas-powered automobiles?

VB: You must match to each automobile, to each completely different automobile, its particular objective. Our angle is at the moment, driving as knowledgeable, has to match with the automobile. Has to get instantly in symbiosis to understand it. I by no means discovered a automobile in my life which I say, “Oh, I’ll by no means drive this automobile once more.” Every automobile makes you, provides you completely different emotions. I prefer it. I can’t say that is dangerous or not. So long as you are feeling the push and the braking, it’s good. The sound, nicely … As we speak, I imply, the idea is identical. Automobile is identical. What adjustments is the relation we have now to have with the sound, which is there or not there. I feel it’s not a giant deal. I feel it’s not a giant deal. You’re feeling the ability. You’re snug. You’re feeling the wind. Okay, you don’t really feel an engine, 8000 revs or 12,000 revs, however okay, however you have got different optimistic reactions.

MT: A variety of automobile fanatics complain computer systems are getting in the way in which of the driving expertise. That it breaks the connection between you and the automobile. Do you are feeling that approach?

VB: No, no. I’m at all times towards this sort of opinion or feeling. Laptop apps, at the moment we have now ABS. Let’s say, take this as essentially the most simple, ABS, digital stability program. Greater than similar. We are able to keep away from that. We are able to keep away from these gadgets, however they’re necessary.

MT: Do you want having so many controls to vary the automobile or would you favor that the automobile simply be arrange a method and no twisting knobs, no enjoying with buttons?

VB: Effectively you realize, being grown up with none of these issues, I nonetheless prefer it, however I perceive with this sort of energy it might be helpful for a traditional driver to have this sort of alternative to really feel extra relaxed. I feel they’re good when it comes to, I don’t know if it’s appropriate to say, regular driver, however making individuals snug.

MT: There’s one other frequent criticism towards electrical energy steering, versus hydraulic energy steering, that the electrical system doesn’t have the identical really feel because the hydraulic system.

VB: Not with me actually. Not with me actually. I drove many, many fashionable automobiles with electrical energy steering. Different automobiles with hydraulic energy steering. Actually, I feel is extra advertising and marketing and commercials than actually affected. Business and advertising and marketing is necessary. For me, electrical or hydraulic makes no distinction. I imply, the sensation behind the wheel, I by no means felt… I can let you know that is electrical and that is hydraulic? No. Actually not.

MT: What’s your philosophy for evaluating automobiles? What are you on the lookout for while you get right into a automobile for the primary time? What’s the take a look at for you whether or not it’s automobile or not?

VB: Effectively, after I sit in a automobile the primary time, I’m at all times form of afraid as a result of I’m anticipating one thing completely different than [before], anticipating new expertise and each time is one thing new. It’s one thing motivating to see, to really feel completely different reactions or really feel completely different. I’m form of afraid, respectful I’d say.

I’m respectful of the automobile as a result of I don’t know the automobile. It’s utterly reverse rising up with an organization, rising up with a prototype, growing the prototypes so you realize step-by-step. It’s simpler. Once I sit in a brand new automobile, it’s a brand new know-how. It’s not intimidating, but it surely’s one thing that I need to study. I’m initially respectful of the automobile after which slowly, slowly you respect and also you get on the automobile, which is nice.

MT: Is there a sure habits that you simply hope {that a} automobile could have, one thing that you simply anticipate from automobile?

VB: I feel my angle is to get acquainted and respect what the automobile does, what the automobile provides. As a result of each automobile has his personal temperament and character. I don’t know which is one of the best automobile of the world, but it surely’s as a result of I respect each automobile and his character. I feel so much about this.



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