Lotus has always had a focus on weight, or lack thereof, to improve the performance of its sportscars. As it treads down the path of batteries and electric motors to provide the motivation for its future products, weight reduction is again the focus of its engineering efforts.
And so the company has revealed its new platform strategy for its family of EV performance cars as part of Project LEVA (Lightweight Electric Vehicle Architecture).
This platform it calls its ‘blueprint for the next generation of electric sports cars, for future Lotus products and for the Lotus Engineering consultancy to commercialise’.
Some of the claims for the new platform include its rear subframe being 37 per cent lighter than the one used on the Lotus Emira V6. It is fully adaptable to provide a platform for a range of EVs with variable layouts, wheelbase lengths, battery sizes and configurations.
At its heart is a common, die-cast rear sub-frame that features multiple interchangeable components and it can house two different types of battery configurations. The first is the ‘Chest’ layout, where the battery modules are mid-mounted, stacked vertically behind the two seats.This Lotus says is ‘ideal for sports car / hypercar vehicle types where a low overall ride height and low centre of gravity are required’. This can accommodate a battery capacity of up to 99.6kWh and outputs of 650kW with a dual motor set up.
The other is the Slab (or skateboard) layout where the battery pack is arranged under the floor, the company saying this is ‘most suitable for vehicles where a higher ride height and a taller overall profile is required’.
The platform can support both single and dual motor layouts.
The first electric cars from Lotus are scheduled for launch in 2026, though the technology is intended to be farmed out to third-party clients through Lotus Engineering.
Richard Moore, Executive Director, Engineering, Lotus Cars, commented: “Today’s EVs are heavy in comparison to their ICE equivalents, so the ARMD funding has helped Lotus to innovate earlier in the product cycle and develop a new vehicle architecture that targets lightweight and performance density from conception.”
The platform development has been overseen by Richard Rackham, Head of Vehicle Concepts, who was instrumental in the extruded aluminium chassi of the Lotus Elise. He said: “Project LEVA is as revolutionary now as the Elise architecture was in 1996. In true Lotus spirit, significant weight savings have been achieved throughout, with a focus on ultimate performance, efficiency and safety being engineered into the structure from the outset – for example, by utilising the vehicle structure as the battery enclosure, having an integrated EDU, eliminating subframes and optimising the multi-link suspension components.”