Lightweight sports car manufacturer Lotus recently revealed plans for a family of electric vehicles – and now it has detailed the platform that will underpin the sports car in the group.
It has been developed through Project LEVA (Lightweight Electric Vehicle Architecture), which is a research programme developing lightweight platforms for next-generation EVs.
Today’s announcement is the ‘blueprint’ for construction of the firm’s zero-emission sports cars going forward. To give an idea of the weight savings that have been achieved, Lotus says the rear structure is 37 per cent lighter than that found on the recently revealed Emira V6.
The structure is said to be highly adaptable to underpin EVs with a variety of layouts, wheelbase lengths, battery sizes and configurations. Lotus says its innovation comes from the fact the platform can support both ‘chest’ and ‘slab’ battery configurations.
The chest layout sees batteries stacked behind the front seats in a similar fashion to a mid-mounted combustion engine, making it ideal for sports cars and supercars. The slab layout sees the batteries laid flat beneath the cabin, which is better for practical-focused vehicles such as SUVs.
As well as underpinning Lotus sports cars, Lotus Engineering will be able to commercialise the platform for third parties to use.
Project LEVA was led by Richard Rackham, who is head of vehicle concepts at Lotus and is best-known for his work on the extruded aluminium architecture of the iconic Lotus Elise 25 years ago.
Speaking about the new platform, 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 bolt-on subframes and optimising the multi-link suspension components.”
Funding for the project came in part from the Advanced Route to Market Demonstrator programme from the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.