England-based Performance car maker, Lotus, is taking its electric future seriously. It previously announced a new lineup of all-electric models and is now sharing details on the chassis architecture that will power them.
Lotus has more than 70 years of legacy as an automaker, which much of its history being internal combustion engines. Its cars have appeared in popular racing competitions, including Formula One. It has been majority-owned by Chinese conglomerate Geely Holding Group Co Ltd since 2017.
The new chassis was developed through Project LEVA, which stands for Lightweight Electric Vehicle Architecture. It is a research venture focused on developing lightweight structures to support the next generation of purely electric vehicles.
One of the outcomes of Project LEVA is a rear structure that is 37 percent lighter than what is on Lotus’ Emira V6 electric supercar. Lotus hopes to commercialize the chassis by making it available for other car manufacturers.
The chassis was on display at the Low Carbon Vehicle event organized by Cenex from 22nd to 23rd September. A feature of the vehicle architecture is its ability to support a range of electric vehicles. This versatility is a result of its variable layouts, including wheelbase lengths and battery sizes.
There are different layouts for the chassis: a two-seater sports car with a standard wheelbase, a two-seat sports car with a longer wheelbase, and 2+2 sports.
Based on the battery, the chassis can be configured in two different layouts: the chest layout, which places the battery modules vertically behind the two seats, and the slab layout, which puts the battery modules horizontally under the cabin.
The former battery configuration is ideal for a sports car that has a low overall ride height, and a low center of gravity is required. It is similar to the chassis of the Evija. The latter works best for cars that require a higher ride height and a taller overall profile. It is also known as the skateboard chassis.
Lotus collaborated with Sarginsons Industries and the staff of Brunel University London, both of whom contributed their materials expertise. The project was led by veteran engineer Richard Rackham, who is head of vehicle concepts at Lotus. He led the development of the Lotus Elise architecture 25 years ago.
Describing Project LEVA, Richard Moore, executive director of engineering at Lotus, said, “Project LEVA and the electric sports car architecture are perfect illustrations of the innovation which continues to be at the heart of everything Lotus does. 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. Rather than developing a single vehicle, it means Lotus now has the ‘blueprint’ for the next generation of electric sports cars, for future Lotus products and for the Lotus Engineering consultancy to commercialize.”