The engineering faction of Norwich based car maker Lotus has been awarded $2m by the State of California to conduct research into efficient, lightweight vehicles.
Earlier this year Lotus Engineering was involved in designing the prototype for a new lightweight vehicle. Now, the Air Resources Board of California has commissioned the company to create a detailed structural design and analysis of that prototype to demonstrate that it meets the crashworthiness and stringent safety requirements for vehicles sold in the United States.
Released by the International Council on Clean Transportation in California, the research found that a 38% reduction in mass, giving a 23% reduction in fuel consumption, can be achieved with a 3% increase in vehicle cost.
In its 62 year history, Lotus Cars has focused on ‘performance through light weight’ engineering in its cars. Its Elite, Elan and Esprit legacy models and the Elise, Exige and Evora from its current roster are all the lightest cars in their class. Lotus’ consultancy division Lotus Engineering has also concentrated its efforts 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 team in Michigan, USA and will be completed 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.