During a recent ride-and-drive with Pirelli, the tiremaker showcased its relationship with Lamborghini with a stop at the prestige OEM’s Lamborghini Lounge, a no-frills building tucked inside New York City’s Chelsea District. Inside, it’s where discerning soon-to-be Lamborghini owners can go and customize their vehicles (namely, the Huracán and Aventador) as part of the carmaker’s “Ad Personam ” customization program. When I say customize your vehicles, I mean you can even choose the color of thread that will sew their seats together. Just take a look…
As I thought about what my dream Lamborghini would look like (quite frankly, I got overwhlemed!), I couldn’t help but think about how Lamborghini’s customization process for its vehicles aligns with Pirelli’s “perfect fit” strategy that Pirelli Tire North America CEO Claudio Zanardo explained to a “T.”
“Today, the technology on cars is much more complex, and we need to have a product that is exactly designed for the specific car. It’s a challenge and a nice exercise to work together with the OEMs to develop new technologies and never stop improving our product. Our goal is to bring maximum performance to our customers.”
Members of the trade media and I experienced Pirelli’s “perfect fit” strategy in action as we had the opportunity to drive the Lamborghini Urus, the company’s first high-performance SUV with 23-in. wheels, from the busy streets of New York City to the Finger Lakes region of New York state. There, we’d see how Pirelli and Lamborghini test out their most advanced innovations on the extremes of the racetrack at Watkins Glen International for the Lamborghini Super Trofeo North American race. The Urus was an experience.
First, this thing accelerates quick. In fact, it can go from zero to 62 mph in 3.6 seconds and zero to 124 mph in 12.8 seconds. Its maximum speed is around 190 mph – it’s been billed as the fastest SUV in the world. Second, the Urus has memory seats. Yes, you can program it to remember your seat height and memorize the setting of your steering wheel and side mirrors. When you get in and start the engine, the seat and steering wheel automatically adjust to where you had them last for a comfortable drive.
Third, this car has 23-in. wheels. Imagine designing tires for that! Initially, Pirelli manufactured six tires for the Lamborghini Urus when it first came out in 2017 between 21 and 23 inches. According to an earlier Tire Review article, one big technical challenge for Pirelli was creating a tire that could cope with contrasting demands, such as grip, snow traction, durability and laceration resistance in off-road driving. (The Urus has different driving modes, and one of them is for light off-road driving.) So, Pirelli engineers created a more open tire pattern by leaving out some tread blocks to guarantee handling off-road on gravel, while offering dry and wet handling to tackle more conventional surfaces in complete safety.
To find out about how Pirelli’s technology transfers from track to street and vice versa, check out this story I wrote from our time with the tiremaker following its technology journey at Watkins Glen. And, hear from Pirelli executives how they’re investing in the North American market and tackling EV tire development here.