Lotus has announced that it is opening a research and design team dedicated to hybrid and electric cars. The company is well known for its work on electric vehicles, working with American specialist, ZAP, and producing a number of in-house electric prototypes too.The latest of these is a mild hybrid unit that was designed to reduce CO2 emissions whist maintaining an engaging driving experience.
Low CO2 Vehicle concept: The figures
The 'Low CO2 vehicle concept' uses a three-cylinder 1.5-litre engine integrated with a mild hybrid drive to produce 158bhp, 177lb ft of torque and only 149g/km of C02. As the concept uses a Vauxhall Astra body, Lotus has compared it to the closest production equivalent – the 1.8 four-cylinder Astra. The concept comes out best, producing 20bhp and 48lb ft of torque more than the production car, yet emitting 15 per cent less emissions.
Low CO2 Vehicle concept: The tech
The hybrid aspect comes from a 12kw electric motor, which is fitted parallel to the three-cylinder combustion unit. The electric motor aids the performance of the petrol engine, giving it extra performance without the extra emissions. However, as a mild hybrid the car is not capable of being powered by electricity alone. The new Lotus unit not only offers low emissions with improved performance, but is also designed with manufacturing in mind. By creating an exhaust manifold that is integrated into the cylinder head, the unit uses 35 per cent fewer components than a standard engine, with a weight reduction of 20 per cent. This allows for cheaper and easier manufacturing costs, making the unit entirely production feasible.The engine also benefits from electric-powered fuel and water pumps that can reduce fuel consumption by up to 2 per cent.With the dedicated hybrid and electric research and development team now in action, and this lightweight, economical unit in a working state, a hybrid Lotus seems more feasible than ever. We'll take a hybrid Elise, please.