New series sports car production confirmed for Hethel

New series sports car production confirmed for Hethel

New series sports car production confirmed for Hethel

A new series of sports cars is confirmed, with prototype production of the Lotus Type 131 to commence this year from a world-class manufacturing facility in Hethel, Norfolk.

The new manufacturing investment is part of Lotus’ Vision80 strategy, which will also see the relocation of two Lotus sub-assembly facilities into one efficient central operation in Norwich city to support higher volumes.

To accompany the £100-million-plus investment into Hethel’s facilities, Lotus will be recruiting some 250 new employees. This is in addition to the 670 to have joined Lotus since September 2017, when shareholders Geely and Etika took ownership of the company.

New recruits are required for roles in engineering and manufacturing for both Lotus Cars and the world-renowned engineering consultancy, Lotus Engineering – which opens its Advanced Technology Centre in Warwick later this year.

To acknowledge the forthcoming family of performance cars, Lotus has released an image that hints at the new generation of products that will follow Elise, Exige and Evora, which have entered their final year of production in 2021.  A full programme of activities is planned to celebrate the current range of three sports cars, starting with the elder, the iconic Lotus Elise.

The Lotus Elise was unveiled in 1995, revolutionising the low volume sports car industry with its pioneering use of extruded and bonded aluminium, high-tech composites and lightweight knowhow.

Using the technology pioneered in the Elise, the Exige, launched in 2000, quickly became the epitome of the ‘race car for the road’.  The Exige demonstrated a rare ability to give the driver an involving yet accessible experience on the road, while still managing to lap the most demanding tracks of the world quickly, with the safety and progressiveness expected of a Lotus.

The Evora, unveiled in 2008, returned Lotus to the lucrative super-sports car sector as an award-winning and versatile road car that was more driver-focused than its peers. In motorsport, the Evora was successful too, winning national GT championships around the world and gaining a podium at Le Mans.

Future Lotus cars are taking this learning and further developing it to ensure the preservation of that all-important DNA, with the overriding criteria of being ‘For The Drivers’.

Phil Popham, CEO, Lotus Cars:

“This year will be hugely significant for Lotus with new facilities coming on stream, a new sports car entering production and new levels of efficiency and quality that only a new car design and factory can deliver. Despite the continuing global challenges, Lotus has emerged from 2020 strong and on track in the delivery of our Vision80 business plan.” He added: “As our Vision80 strategy illustrates, Lotus is all about looking forward, and our future is full of continuous innovation. In 2021, however, we will be reflecting on the legacy of our current range, starting with the Elise, a sports car that genuinely revolutionised the automotive industry, not only because it is a legend-in-its-own-lifetime but also for its impact on car design and technology.”

Matt Windle, Lotus’ Executive Director, Engineering:

“Our renowned team of engineers, designers and technicians who are working on the new cars are acutely aware of the legacy from the Elise, Exige and Evora.  Indeed, many were around when Elise was being developed. Members of our team, old and new, are now busy blending the learnings of the past with the innovations of today and tomorrow, to ensure our future cars truly move the game on but remain firmly committed to Lotus values.”

The Elise, Exige and Evora have contributed greatly to the Lotus business over the years, and by the time the last of these models leaves the assembly line, they will have sold a combined circa 55,000 units.

Lotus has created multiple automotive legends over the last 73 years, and with the Evija hypercar and new Type 131 sports car, a new dawn of innovation and legend-making is breaking over Hethel.

Lotus Winter Driving Academy

Lotus Winter Driving Academy

Lotus Winter Driving Academy

You don’t usually associate Lotus with off-roading. But when the driving surface is carved through powdered snow settled on a lake frozen solid, what’s not to enjoy!

Track days are a key activity for the Lotus China team. They’re a great way to raise the profile of our brand to media, customers and potential buyers, showing off the legendary Lotus performance car ride and handling and the lightweight engineering that’s at the heart of our products.

The team took their activities to the next level over the new year period, staging the first ever Lotus Winter Driving Academy. The destination for guests was the frozen beauty of the Hulan Hekou, an 800,000 m2 wetland park at the confluence of two rivers near the city of Harbin. The capital of Heilongjiang, China’s northernmost province, temperatures can drop to well below -30 degrees Celsius at this time of year.

Almost 50 people attended, taking the chance to test their driving and improve their skills under the watchful eye of expert instructors and racing drivers. Set up as a one or two-day programme, those taking part started out doing simple circles and figure-of-eights to build their confidence. Thanks to patient tuition from the passenger seat, they eventually progressed to an icy 4km high-speed course to challenge even the most advanced driver.

Their weapon of choice was the Lotus Evora GT410, offering exceptional dynamic performance and a thrilling 0-60mph time of 4.1 seconds. A fleet of cars were on hand to support the activities, and feedback on the event was overwhelmingly positive.

David McIntyre is Regional Director, China and Asia-Pacific for Lotus. He attended the Academy and commented: “Harbin is known as ‘the ice city’ and famous for its snow and ice festival. That made it the perfect location for the Lotus Winter Driving Academy. Guests were able to test the legendary handling of a Lotus in the most extreme conditions we could find – on a frozen lake!

David added: “Driving the Lotus Evora GT410 on ice is a great test of our cars’ reliability and handling, and most of all just really good fun. All our guests came away safer and better drivers, and with a full understanding and new respect for what our cars are capable of. I truly hope this will become an annual event, and that next year we can invite customers from across China, Asia-Pacific, and other regions of the world.”

Alpine and Lotus Announce Technical Collaboration

Alpine and Lotus Announce Technical Collaboration

Alpine and Lotus Announce Technical Collaboration

As part of the Alpine Business Unit development, Groupe Renault and Group Lotus have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to study a number of areas of cooperation, including the joint development of an EV sportscar.

The Alpine and Lotus teams will conduct a comprehensive feasibility study for the joint engineering, design and development of an EV sportscar by leveraging the resources, expertise and facilities of the respective entities in both France and the UK.

Alpine and Lotus will also explore the development of a joint services offer combining their engineering expertise. A collaboration to leverage Alpine’s motorsport platform covering Formula One to Formula E and Endurance is also under study.

Laurent Rossi, CEO Alpine, said:

“The signing of this MoU with Lotus shows the lean and smart approach we’re implementing as part of the new Alpine brand strategy. Both brands have an amazing legacy and we are most excited to start this work together, from engineering tailored solutions to developing a next-generation EV sports car. This collaboration along with our transformation mark the beginning of a new era in which we’ll be taking the Alpine name and line-up to the future. We’re putting F1 at the heart of our business, leveraging our in-house expertise and best-in-class partners such as Lotus to inject our cars with leading-edge performance, technology and motorisation”.

Phil Popham, CEO, Lotus Cars, added:

“Today’s announcement is the first step in what is set to be a hugely rewarding collaboration between our iconic brands. We are proud to be working with Groupe Renault in this collaboration – sharing Lotus’ technical expertise and abilities, and leveraging our long track record of successful collaborations. Our companies have much in common – from a pioneering pedigree in light-weighting, to championship-winning sportscars which perform as impressively on the road as they do in the motorsports arena. It is a natural fit in many ways and the co-development of an EV sportscar is hugely exciting for our companies, our fans and customers around the world. The joint-services element of our agreement will additionally make our engineering expertise available to those wishing to engage our innovations.”

Lotus Engineering launches new battery test facilities to support booming electric vehicle (EV) sector

Lotus Engineering launches new battery test facilities to support booming electric vehicle (EV) sector

Lotus Engineering launches new battery test facilities to support booming electric vehicle (EV) sector

Lotus Engineering is launching a pilot containerised battery testing facility to assess energy storage solutions for the booming EV sector.

It will allow Lotus Engineering to carry out various battery cell, module and pack characterisation tests, performance evaluations, and component and lifetime testing under controlled conditions. Early feasibility study support and validation of mature designs for implementation into new vehicles will also be available.

The project has been named BattCon, an abbreviation of Battery Containerised Test Facility. The ‘containers’ are individual walk-in laboratories and will be in operation at Lotus HQ in Hethel, Norfolk, as well as the new Lotus Advanced Technology Centre in Wellesbourne, West Midlands. Each is the size of a standard 40ft shipping container and so can easily be packed up and transported as a mobile testing unit, available to Lotus Engineering customers wherever they are. Lotus has three operational units as part of the pilot scheme.

For clients, Lotus Engineering will offer an EV safety-compliant workshop facility with specialist staff experienced in testing batteries. Companies new to the EV field, and those who would otherwise need to invest in additional test facilities, will have access to a fast, efficient and cost-effective solution to develop new technologies and speed up their route to market. For Lotus itself, the new technology will support ambitious plans to launch a new range of performance vehicles.

Lotus Engineering has a wealth of experience in the design and engineering of EVs and other alternative propulsion powertrains dating back two decades. While many of the programmes remain confidential, the consultancy’s work on the Tesla Roadster (2008-12) is the best-known example.

Matt Windle, Executive Director, Engineering, Lotus, commented: “As the race intensifies for automotive and other sectors to develop new and novel battery technologies, there will be increased demand for suitable testing facilities. Project BattCon begins to address this problem by evaluating how Lotus Engineering can meet the battery testing opportunities for the UK supply chain and OEMs.”

Services available include capacity determination, resistance mapping, current and power mapping, open circuit voltage determination and heat capacity. Lifetime testing is comprised of low-voltage cycling, high-voltage cycling, self-discharge determination, storage ageing, cycle ageing, drive cycle ageing and orientation. One of the three Lotus containers features an ambient chamber, the temperature of which can be raised or lowered to replicate climatic extremes around the world.

The pilot project will conclude in spring 2021 and is co-funded by the Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF), part of the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC); Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation; the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for International Trade (DIT). Upon completion, the project will be evaluated and a decision taken about its future.

Lotus Engineering is the consultancy division of Lotus and provides a comprehensive range of technical services to many of the world’s best-known automotive manufacturers and suppliers. In 2020 it is celebrating 40 years since it was formally incorporated.

Lotus partners with the UK’s most creative photographers to celebrate MUSE Global Design award for Evija

Lotus partners with the UK’s most creative photographers to celebrate MUSE Global Design award for Evija

Lotus partners with the UK’s most creative photographers to celebrate MUSE Global Design award for Evija

Lotus is celebrating the all-electric Evija hypercar’s latest award win with a gallery of new images taken during a unique and inspiring collaboration with some of the UK’s most creative photographic talent.

The celebrations mark the results of the prestigious 2020 MUSE Global Design Awards, where the Lotus Evija took overall victory in the Automotive Transportation category.

The eight exclusive photoshoots took place in and around Duke of London, a former 1930s soap factory in West London transformed into a stunning motoring venue and tribute to all things automotive. Lotus invited each photographer to attend for one-on-one private access to the Evija, allowing them to choose how and where to shoot the hypercar – in their own style – in any location around the site. The results are now available at their respective Instagram feeds.

Those invited to attend were:

Alex Carmichael commented: “A huge thanks to Lotus for giving me the opportunity to spend time with the Evija. It’s not every day you get the chance to photograph the next generation of electric hypercars. I hope my photos do the car justice, and I’m looking forward to the next steps in its development before seeing them on the streets.”

Russell Carr, Director of Design, Lotus, was hugely impressed with the unique and creative ways in which the photographers shot the car. “When you have spent thousands of hours looking something from every angle – as I have with the Evija – it’s fascinating to see how talented and creative people choose to photograph it when they’re seeing it for the first time. There is some amazing work in this collection and the design of the car really shines through.”

Russell and the Lotus design team have been honoured at the prestigious 2020 MUSE Design Awards, where the Evija was voted number one in the Automotive Transportation Design category. The international competition is judged by a grand jury of 56 design professionals representing 22 countries.

The Lotus Evija marks the start of an exciting new chapter in the history of an iconic and much-loved British sports car brand. Satisfying a brief to be the most powerful and dynamically accomplished road car in the history of the company, the Evija represents a thrilling new high water mark for Lotus driving performance.

Further investment in Lotus Engineering consultancy with major Hethel site upgrades

Further investment in Lotus Engineering consultancy with major Hethel site upgrades

Further investment in Lotus Engineering consultancy with major Hethel site upgrades

Lotus is revealing the latest upgrades to its Hethel site, which will help drive a new era of success for Lotus Engineering, the consultancy division of the business.

The multi-million-pound investment is the latest chapter in the ongoing transformation of the Lotus company and brand. Site enhancements include the installation of numerous all-new and upgraded state-of-the-art engineering test facilities. These will be used by Lotus Engineering as it expands its portfolio of consultancy services and its client base, and will complement the Lotus Cars business as it prepares to deliver a new range of performance cars – the first of which will be unveiled next year.

Improvements include an all-new Electric Drive Unit (EDU) test cell, plus upgrades to the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) test and development cells, the Propulsion Prototype build workshop and the vehicle emissions lab.

The famous 2.2-mile Hethel test track – the scene of so much historic race and road car development since Lotus moved to the Norfolk site in 1966 – has also been upgraded.

These latest improvements are in addition to the all-new sports car factory which will be home to an all-new Lotus model starting next year, and in addition to the new assembly hall dedicated to the Lotus Evija all-electric hypercar. Both will be manufacturing new Lotus cars during 2021.

In 2020 Lotus Engineering celebrates 40 years since it was formally incorporated. The consultancy provides a comprehensive range of technical services to many of the world’s best-known automotive manufacturers and suppliers. While much of its work and list of clients remains confidential, its ‘greatest hits’ include some of the best-known and most-loved performance cars of all time such as the Lotus Cortina, the Lotus Carlton, the Lotus Sunbeam and numerous others.

Matt Windle, Executive Director, Engineering, Lotus, commented: “We see huge potential to put Lotus Engineering right at the cutting edge of automotive innovation, further building on our core competencies as well as increasing our capability in growth areas.”

He continued: “An example is electrification; the challenges around weight reduction and improved dynamics are a major factor in the quest for more efficient electric vehicles, and those link back directly to the Lotus core values. What we continue to learn on the Lotus Evija all-electric hypercar programme creates knowledge and experience which we can use to help other businesses.”

As announced in July this year, Lotus Engineering’s new home will be on the Wellesbourne campus of the University of Warwick, part of an all-new advanced technology centre for Lotus being established in the West Midlands.

The growth strategy for Lotus Engineering sees the services it offers categorised under three pillars:

EXPERIENCE: active noise, Human Machine Interface (HMI), user interface, user experience, cockpit, infotainment, driver engagement

PLATFORM: concepts, structures, architectures, propulsion, manufacturing

DYNAMICS: ride and handling, lightweighting, aerodynamics, simulation, chassis systems

Further details on the improvements at Hethel are listed below.

All-new Electric Drive Unit (EDU) test cell

An all-new facility at Lotus, it allows engineers to test EV powertrains including the motor, gearbox and supporting electronics. Lotus software can communicate with the motor control system and load the powertrain as if it were in a vehicle, to test, develop and validate its performance.

Upgraded Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) test and development cells

These are used for ICE development, calibration and durability testing, and have been upgraded to enable Lotus to deliver comprehensive world-class test data to the latest international standards. Specific improvements have been made to further improve capability and future-proofing on complex test profiles, calibration requirements, high-speed data acquisition and multiple channel configurations.

Upgraded Propulsion Prototype build workshop

This workshop allows Lotus engineers to build and test new engines, transmissions and EDUs. It has been completely redesigned and re-equipped with all-new hardware and new IT systems to improve the range of services offered. Today it is a world-class and highly efficient location ensuring high-quality prototype building.

Upgraded vehicle emissions lab

New equipment has been added to allow Lotus engineers to test and validate vehicles to the latest emissions standards, not just for the UK and Europe but in all international markets.

Upgraded Hethel test track

New additions to the famous circuit include new protective trackside barriers; new CCTV cameras to enable full track visibility; new safety systems including an upgraded entrance/exit barrier control system; and improved fire protection around the circuit.