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How Lamborghini became the first official CO2-neutral Italian car maker

Lamborghini exclusively makes high-end supercars powered by large-displacement engines, but that doesn’t mean it’s not green. The Sant’Agata-based automaker has just become the first automotive company in Italy to obtain the coveted CO2-neutral certification from DNV GL.

Lamborghini set out to become CO2-neutral a couple of years ago, and it has finally achieved its ambitious goal by completing several key projects including opening an innovative tri-generation plant and inaugurating a district heating system.

Located a stone’s throw from the Sant’Agata Bolognese factory, the tri-generation heating plant uses natural gas to produce electricity, heating, and cooling. It is capable of generating approximately 9,800 MWh annually, which equates to the amount of energy used annually by every household in the town of Sant’Agata. Inaugurated last week, the tri-generation plant will allow Lamborghini to save approximately 820 tons of CO2 each year.

The tri-generation plant will allow Lamborghini to save about 820 tons of CO2 each year.

The Raging Bull is building the required infrastructure to power the plant using Biogas. The project won’t be completed until 2017, but executives predict that switching fuels will further reduce CO2 emissions by up to 5,600 tons every year.

Capable of saving up to 1,800 tons of CO2 annually, the plant’s district heating system relies on an extensive network of underground pipes to draw hot water from a Biogas co-generation plant that’s about four miles away from its headquarters. This system makes Lamborghini more eco-friendly because it greatly reduces the company’s electricity consumption, but it also makes the Biogas plant greener because the energy harnessed by the Raging Bull would otherwise be lost. It’s a win-win situation for all parties involved.

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Lamborghini is also saving energy by building more eco-friendly buildings with LED lighting and shades to keep the temperature in check, and by installing solar panels on top of its factory. Additionally, it has earned carbon credits by funding projects such as a new network of bike lanes in the region and by joining forces with three European universities on an oak forest research project. The large-scale experiment aims to study the relationship between plants, their density, their environment and CO2.

lamborghini-the-tri-generation-plant-inauguration
Lamborghini

It’s no secret that Lamborghini will significantly expand its operations over the next few years as it prepares to launch the production version of the Urus concept. About 500 new employees will be brought on board, and the factory will ultimately be nearly twice as big as it is today. However, that doesn’t mean the company will set aside its green aspirations.

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“Our goal is to keep the plant CO2-neutral, even after the expansion that will take place in the upcoming years with the introduction of the third Lamborghini model,” affirmed company CEO Stephan Winkelmann last week during the inauguration of the new tri-generation plant.

What’s next?

An eco-friendly production process is just the tip of the iceberg, and Lamborghini has reached its long-term goal of cutting its cars’ CO2 emissions by 25 percent by 2015. The company plans on re-investing 20 percent of its profits into research and development in order to ensure the momentum continues.

For example, the Aventador LP 700-4 makes extensive use of weight-saving materials such as carbon fiber, and it packs cylinder deactivation technology as well as a start/stop system with supercapacitators. Lamborghini has never resorted to using turbochargers in order to improve efficiency, but that could change once the Urus arrives. Similarly, the crossover could become the company’s first-ever hybrid, a technology that was previewed with the Asterion concept that was presented last year at the Paris Motor Show.

“The SUV could be our first car with a turbo, and it could be our first car with a plug-in, if we have the opportunity to have more than one engine,” said Winkelmann during a roundtable discussion with a small group of journalists at the company’s headquarters last week.

That doesn’t mean the next Aventador will be a turbo-hybrid. Winkelmann admitted a turbocharged engine could be a good option for the Urus, but he stressed that Lamborghini’s sports cars will continue to use naturally-aspirated engines until “something better comes along.”

Until then, Lamborghini clearly has an eye toward the future.

Update: We’ve corrected this story to reflect that BMW also has a CO2 neutral plant. Apologies for the error.