The State of California awards a USD 2 million research programme to Lotus Engineering for a study into efficient, lightweight cars of the future.
Lotus Engineering has been commissioned by the Air Resources Board of California to undertake the second stage of a study investigating efficient, lightweight vehicles manufactured using lighter, stronger materials.
Lotus Engineering will conduct a detailed structural design and analysis of the prototype vehicle from an earlier study to demonstrate it meets the stringent safety requirements for vehicles sold in the US.
Lotus Engineering concluded the first part of the study in April this year, which suggested that a reduction in vehicle mass of 38% can be achieved for medium volume vehicles (around 50,000 units a year) with just an increase in 3% in vehicle cost, thus giving a 23% reduction in fuel consumption.
It is widely recognised in the automotive industry that a reduction in vehicle mass produces more efficient vehicles and,with the global drive to reduce emissions, manufacturers are working hard to make their cars lighter.
Lightweight vehicles have additional benefits in terms of performance, agility and cornering, (the lighter the car, the less power it needs to propel it along the road for the same performance as a heavier car).
For 62 years Lotus has been leading the car world with their philosophy "performance through lightweight" engineering. "Strict adherence to this philosophy has enabled Lotus to develop some of the finest sports cars of all time, such as the Lotus Elite, Elan and Esprit in Lotus' peerless past and the Elise, Exige and Evora from our current line up – all of which are the lightest cars in their class. But it is not just sportscars; Lotus' consultancy division, Lotus Engineering, has been applying its light weight principles behind the scenes for other car makers for years on many types of vehicles, both low volume and mass production", said a spokesman for the group.
This study will be led by Lotus Engineering's Michigan US office with completion in April 2011. The vehicle design will use a mixture of materials best suited to its application including aluminium, magnesium, composites, high strength lightweight steel and plastics.
Scroll down in archive to read previous auto news on Lotus and its light car philosophy