Lotus Shows Hints of Future Electric Cars

Editor’s note: Jo is our newest addition to the Gas 2.0 team. He’s written for us before as a guest writer, but this marks his transition to full fledged writer status. We’re pleased to have him on board. Welcome Jo!

Envied worldwide for producing feather-lite supercars just itching to be made into electric torque monsters (even Tesla has borrowed heavily from the Lotus parts bin), Lotus has indicated it wants to enter the world of exotic electric cars itself – perhaps even as soon as late 2009.

Lotus Evora - clay concept

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Ever since the late Colin Chapman began building his own sportscars under the Lotus brand (way back in 1952!) the company has followed a simple philosophy for its go-fast racers: add lightness.  “Adding lightness” meant that Chapman’s cars were incredibly efficient – using less fuel and fewer tires than the competition.

For this very reason, Lotus cars had to pit less often during races, giving them a clear advantage over the bigger Mercedes and Ferraris that had dominated the sport until Chapman came on the scene. To this day Lotus still produces extremely light cars that make use of advanced extruded-aluminum chassis to extract exotic, supercar performance from relatively mundane components.

In fact, the current Lotus Elise uses a Toyota engine similar to the one found in the Corolla.  It should come as no surprise, then, that a lightweight Lotus chassis has become THE must-have Festivus gift for any company wanting to make a big splash in the EV world, with companies like Tesla, Proton, and Chrysler actively publicizing their raids of Lotus’ parts bins (note: Chrysler’s Dodge EV is a UK-only Lotus Europa model with an off-the-shelf electric motor and flash yellow paint).

Surprising absolutely no-one who’s followed Lotus’ fortunes over the past 50 years, Mike Kimberly (Lotus’ current CEO and bona fide low-weight/high-efficiency evangelist to the automotive stars) will be throwing Lotus’ hat into the EV ring later this year with a new, extended-range plug-in hybrid sportsscar to be unveiled at the Geneva motor show this March (according this quick blurb in the UK’s Financial Times).

I’m putting my smart money on this new hybrid being a version of Lotus’ upcoming Evora 2+2 passenger coupe (shown above), which will be sold as a 2010 model in the US beginning this April (hint: look for the battery pack to replace the car’s smallish rear seats).

Image credit: from exfordy’s photostream, under a creative commons license.

 

Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.