"We are not here to please a single customer. We are here to pass this territory unharmed to the next generation." – Lamborghini CEO, Stephan Winkelmann
This week the Italian automaker officially opened its new Trigeneration Plant – which is not, lest you think otherwise, an assembly facility spanning multiple eras of production. It's a new power plant, built on the site of the company's headquarters in Sant'Agata Bolognese, that will generate its electricity, heating, and cooling, all from the same source of natural gas. The plant has an installed (potential) capacity of 1.2 megawatts, and will (practically speaking) be capable of generating over 25,000 MWh every year. That'd be enough to power all the houses in Sant'Agata, the otherwise sleepy town which Lamborghini shares with about 7,000 residents.
The clean-burning facility is estimated to cut out 820 tons of CO2 every year, and by 2017 is slated to run on biofuel to raise that figure to a claimed 5,600 tons per year. The question is, who cares? Sure, people buying EVs and free-range chickens want to be assured that their buying habits fit their environmental conscience, but does the average Lamborghini buyer really care if their new supercar came from an environmentally friendly factory?
"If we are going to do the things only because of the importance first thing for the customer, we would not be here anymore," Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann told us during roundtable discussion at the opening of the Trigeneration Plant. "We are not here to please a single customer. We are here to pass this territory unharmed to the next generation."
"It would be ridiculous if you would say we are going to save the world. What we're saying is, exactly, that everyone has to take responsibility in the territory where he's living," continued Winkelmann. "If you have an approach which is 360 degrees of reducing the emissions for the cars while maintaining the DNA of the brand while, on the other hand, doing all that is possible to reduce emissions at the plant, I think this is something which is recognized by those who have an idea of what is going on in this world."
The new Trigeneration Plant was opened together with Italy's Minister of the Environment, Gian Luca Galletti, a Bolognese native. The government subsidized the installation of the plant at about 20-25 percent, Lamborghini's industrial director Ranieri Niccoli told us, but the company shouldered the rest of the investment itself. The plant, however, is only the latest in a raft of measures Lamborghini has undertaken to reduce its carbon footprint.
"It would be ridiculous if you would say we are going to save the world."
There's also a new district heating system that pipes in hot water from a biogas cogeneration plant about four miles away – energy that would otherwise have been lost and whose recuperation is said to cut another 1,800 tons of CO2 per year. The company installed over 160,000 square feet of solar panels to cut another 1,000 tons of C02 per year, and built a park nearby with 10,000 oak trees to offset its own carbon emissions and research reforestation methods.
All these measures form part of a commitment on Lamborghini's part to cut its carbon emissions by 25 percent by this year. But we're not asked to simply take the company at its word: it has achieved key environmental certifications from the European Union's Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS), from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and now from Det Norske Veritas Germanischer Lloyd (DNV GL) – making Lamborghini the first company to be certified as carbon neutral by the Norwegian-German standards organization.
"Sustainability is one of our company objectives and we subscribe to a strong undertaking of environmental responsibility towards our stakeholders and the area where the company operates," Winkelmann declared in a distributed statement. "The new plant and the certification we have earned today are part of our sustainable growth program." So while driving a Huracán or Aventador still may not be the most environmentally conscious decision, Lamborghini as a company is apparently eager to do its part.