• Sep 9, 2010
Lotus Elise aluminum chassis

Since the earliest days of Lotus, founder Colin Chapman lived by the philosophy of "Simplicate and add lightness." Over the last 60 years, that has manifested in cars from the Seven and Elan to the Elise and Evora. We can look for more of the same from the company, now that the California Air Resources Board has awarded Lotus Engineering a $2 million grant to conduct a study into future lightweight vehicles.

The new study is a follow-up to an earlier program that saw Lotus build a prototype vehicle capable of being built in volumes of 50,000 units a year. The mass of this earlier vehicle was slashed by 38 percent while the cost was only increased by 3 percent. More importantly, fuel consumption of the lightweight vehicle would be reduced by 23 percent. Unlike many lightweight concepts constructed from carbon fiber, the Lotus-designed vehicle was built mainly from more conventional materials like aluminum, magnesium and high-strength steels.

The goal of the new program, due to be completed by April 2011 and led by the Lotus Engineering office in Ann Arbor, MI, will be to demonstrate that the lightweight vehicle can meet all U.S. crash standards. If anyone can do it, we think Lotus has a shot.

[Source: Lotus]
Show full PR text
State Recognises Lotus as Expert in Lightweight Vehicles

The State of California awards $2 million research programme to Lotus Engineering for a study into efficient, lightweight cars of the future.

Lotus Engineering is delighted to announce that it 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 crashworthiness and stringent safety requirements for vehicles sold in the United States.

In April this year, Lotus Engineering concluded the first part of the study, released by the International Council on Clean Transportation in California, which recognised that a reduction in vehicle mass of 38 in vehicle cost and giving a 23% reduction in fuel consumption.

It is widely recognised in the automotive industry that a reduction in vehicle mass gives more efficient vehicles; with the global drive to reduce emissions, manufacturers are working hard to take mass out their cars. 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 'performance through light weight' engineering. The strict adherence to this philosophy enabled Lotus to develop some of the finest sportscars of all time such as the Lotus Elite, Elan, Esprit from Lotus' peerless past and the Elise, Exige and Evora from the 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.

This study will be led by Lotus Engineering's Michigan, USA 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.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 28 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      WTH? Cali spent more money where it didn't need to... Imagine that!

      When will people get a clue?

      • 4 Years Ago
      This is really good news, after hearing about Lotus possibly shifting their focus to Luxury cars.
      • 4 Years Ago
      As a California resident I don't really understand how we can afford it, although I'm not that knowledgeable about politics, but if anyone deserves it I guess Lotus is the company.

      • 4 Years Ago
      I apologize, but this is deserved:

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      • 4 Years Ago

      In the world of sports cars: Lighter is righter.
      • 4 Years Ago
      No wonder that people want our state to sink into the ocean.
      • 4 Years Ago
      If i were to give money to any company it would be lotus as well. They are so good yet so simple. Now if i just had the extra cash to snag myself a exige. Damn Topgear... why did you have to go and lay me off.

      • 4 Years Ago
      oooo... nice... a new 'beetle' designed by lotus? bring the light weight awesomeness on, I'm ready.
      Carlos
      • 4 Years Ago
      That is awesome to here, but I thought California was bleeding money out the wazoo. Why would they hand out money when they need it the most?
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Carlos
        Great. Now they're into automobile production.

        Screw all those government functions, like maintaining roads, running schools, paying the employees. We're going to play auto-mo-bile games now and maybe even save the world! Neat-o!

        The entire California legislature ought to be voted out of office so as to start anew. Just absurd.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Carlos
        California laid off numbers of teachers in public schools, raised college tuitions, and reduced college courses

        all for this?
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Carlos
        It is but I have a feeling the CARB gave Lotus this money out of their budget. I'm assuming here and obviously could be wrong.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Carlos
        Wait, you guys think this is a NOT a waste of money because, oh, it's CARB's money?

        Like CARB earned that money? Or they printed it themselves? No, CARB took that money from the taxpayers, and it's blowing it on frivolous stuff that the private sector is already doing.

        If people are that gullible - that a line on a budget means the only possible use of money is to piss it away - then you all deserve the bankruptcy California is about to declare.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Carlos
        Paul, it's good to hear that you're going to get involved in the political process. We need more of that in this country.

        But I hope you understand that CARB didn't pull this money out of the general fund. If CARB doesn't use this money for research related to their mission, then the money sits there unused.

        The idea that unused funds in one pool can be borrowed against (or taken away permanently) to be used to fund other programs is the exact reason why Social Security is in trouble.
      • 4 Years Ago
      It's "Simplify" not "Simplicate".
        • 4 Years Ago
        Simplicate sounds like a good way to combine complex and simplify; I'll allow it.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Simplicate is correct.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Actually, Colin Chapman did say "Simplicate"
      • 4 Years Ago
      The title reminds me of a monopoly chance card......
      " please collect 2million dollars from California for Lightweight vehicle study and pass go."
      • 4 Years Ago
      someone tell me why california, one of the most cash strapped states in our country is giving away 2 million to them for this?? cant they fund their own research??? and the study is being done in MI, not even CA so why should the people of CA foot this bill?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Because if their communists can fund a legitimate study that says you can raise fuel econ by over 20%, adding only 3% cost, than they have a better leg to stand on when they clamor for ridiculous new CAFE standards.
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