On the road: A conversation with Lamborghini CTO Rouven Mohr

Almost exactly 60 years ago, Ferruccio Lamborghini was of the clear opinion that there was a technically better solution for the clutch in his Ferrari. In general, he had his own very specific ideas about the technical demands that should be placed on such a sports car if it was to be an object of pleasure and relationship that was to arouse our passion in the long term, over and above its extreme design. So from then on he built his own sports cars.

  • Interview
    Michael Köckritz
  • Photos
    Lamborghini / Martin James

It is this avant-garde, ingenious spirit that characterises the brand to this day as a timeless declaration of war on all things sports and super sports car. Well, and ideal if someone like Rouven Mohr, who as CTO of Lamborghini knows exactly what this is all about (and probably always will be), tells us a lot more for once.

What do technology and engineering mean to Lamborghini?

I think the answer can largely be found in the brand’s DNA: Lamborghini certainly isn’t about building a car for just getting from A to B. Instead, Lamborghini has always wanted to generate desire, to create desirability. So it’s all about achieving a harmony between ingenious, rational and analytically structured development and the emotional experience. And this emotionality doesn’t happen by accident. To a certain degree, it can even be measured or calculated, if you will.

How can you measure these emotions?

There are certain trigger points that you can work into a product. Design is a very obvious aspect here. It’s the first desire, so to speak. And that takes us to the heart of the matter: because the design makes a promise, and this promise must be fulfilled in the technology. If you don’t do that, then you can’t permanently position a brand the way we have. The next key point is the interaction with the car. This isn’t just about driving, though of course it is the most important part. Our job is to make that measurable. It’s about things like the seat position, for example, and the feedback from the vehicle in general. All the objective factors. This all adds up to the car’s personality. A car’s personality doesn’t just happen all by itself; it is systematically developed. Here Lamborghini has learned a great deal in recent years. Lamborghini has its very own, specific product fingerprint, and that needs to be cultivated. Together with the Polytechnic University of Milan, we have investigated how a driver reacts to certain stimuli while driving.

And what did you find out?

Not surprisingly, our buyers respond strongly to things like sound, vibrations, vehicle response and sense of integration. And all of this is very much related to the driver’s seat position. We create a lot of positive feelings that can be measured in pulse, breathing rate and eye movements. We measured all that on the racetrack, and the results were really quite interesting in comparison to electric cars.

“Design makes a promise, and this promise must be fulfilled in the technology. If you don’t do that, then you can’t permanently position a brand the way we have.”
Does that mean that electric vehicles and cars with a combustion engine differ in terms of their emotional experience?

I would say yes, though this does not include racing drivers. The ambitious everyday driver, however, appears to need sound to provide feedback. Without the engine sound, non-professional drivers look much more at the speedometer and the speed and always feel a bit irritated because they’re missing a key reference point. We take all of that into account during development. So it’s not about optimizing the time required to go from zero to a hundred, but the experience you have in that time. How does it feel? Only then do we talk about the acceleration curve. That curve can be very boring, in fact, even if it is extremely fast. And vice versa. Then we ask ourselves questions like: Is the acceleration curve linear? Or is it degressive, i.e., does it start off sharply and then somehow decrease in a certain noticeable way? That’s typical for a diesel engine, for example.

Ferruccio Lamborghini once said, “Lamborghini is sophistication, luxury and perfection.” We’ve talked about sophistication. What does Lamborghini luxury look like today?

This brings us to the subject of exclusivity. To put it bluntly: a Lamborghini is always a force of nature and by no means ordinary. That may be a necessary feature, but in my opinion, it is not sufficient for a luxury product. For me, as a product person, the promise must always be kept. A Lamborghini is a design statement, a work of art that absolutely delivers on its promise. That, for me, is the Lamborghini luxury.

Read the whole interview with Rouven Mohr in the upcoming ramp #61 "Love Is in the Air"!

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