The State of California recognizes Lotus as expert in lightweight vehicles, and awards $2 million research programme to the company for a study into efficient, lightweight cars of the future.
Lotus Engineering will conduct a detailed structural design and analysis of the prototype vehicle from an earlier study to demonstrate it meets the crashworthiness and stringent safety requirements for vehicles sold in the United States.
In April this year, Lotus Engineering concluded the first part of the study, released by the International Council on Clean Transportation in California, which recognised that a reduction in vehicle mass of 38% can be achieved for medium volume vehicles (around 50,000 units a year) with just an increase in 3% in vehicle cost and giving a 23% reduction in fuel consumption.
It is widely recognised in the automotive industry that a reduction in vehicle mass gives more efficient vehicles; with the global drive to reduce emissions, manufacturers are working hard to take mass out their cars. Lightweight vehicles have additional benefits in terms of performance, agility and cornering, (the lighter the car, the less power it needs to propel it along the road for the same performance as a heavier car).
This study will be led by Lotus Engineering’s Michigan, USA office with completion in April 2011. The vehicle design will use a mixture of materials best suited to its application including aluminium, magnesium, composites, high strength lightweight steel and plastics.
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