Lotus Engineering and Jaguar have been co-operating on key engineering programmes, including the new front-engined Jaguar XE roadster.
The relationship between two of Britain’s most significant automotive companies has already resulted in Lotus handling gurus helping with one of Jaguar’s recent models.
Experts at Lotus helped Jaguar set up and hone the chassis of the limited-run Jaguar XKR-S coupe, work that also helped Jaguar decide the chassis settings of the new 503bhp XKR.
Another on-going project relates to advanced engineering feasibility work for the new Jaguar XE sports car, mooted for a 2011 Geneva launch but yet to be committed to production.
Lotus is working through the detailed numbers to see if the front-engined two-seater can be a production reality. “They’re sending data to Lotus Engineering on Jaguar’s behalf,” said a well-placed source.
Key details under the Lotus microscope are the basic economies of putting the Jaguar XE into production with an aluminium chassis, after ruling out a steel structure based on the XF.
Lotus pioneered aluminium sports car technology with the Elise, knowledge that it subsequently deployed on the Aston Martin Vanquish, which it engineered for Ford.
Jaguar has two potential aluminium technologies for the XE: the extrusions/castings structure of the XK and the riveted monocoque of the current Jaguar XJ.
Lotus is also a front-runner if Jaguar looks to outsource production of the XE. Lotus has plenty of spare production capacity at Hethel.
Although there’s no indication that will happen, Jaguar did look at outsourcing production of the aborted alloy-bodied, mid-engined F-type.
It was seen as a necessary step to get production costs down, a problem that Jaguar now faces again with the XE.