Lotus has unveiled the world premiere of its new lightweight chassis technology that will underpin the next generation of electric sports cars.
The new structure has been developed through Project LEVA (Lightweight Electric Vehicle Architecture), announced last October by Lotus. Project LEVA is a research programme that’s accelerating the development of all-new lightweight structures for next-generation battery electric vehicles.
The manufacturer has now revealed that the structure developed through Project LEVA will be integrated into the company’s new architecture for electric sports cars.
Lotus and the Project LEVA partners’ new innovation will see the rear structure become 37% lighter than it is on the Lotus Emira V6, the manufacturer’s brand new internal combustion sports car.
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 commercialise.
The Project LEVA lightweight chassis technology is being shown at the Low Carbon Vehicle event staged by Cenex, the UK’s Low Carbon and Fuel Cells Centre of Excellence, at Millbrook Proving Ground, Bedfordshire, UK, on the 22nd and 23rd September.
A new animation from Lotus reveals how the technology will form part of the new electric sports car chassis, illustrating how the Lotus-developed vehicle architecture is fully adaptable and can provide a platform for a range of EVs with variable layouts, wheelbase lengths, battery sizes and configurations.
All three layouts feature a common lightweight die-cast rear sub-frame with multiple interchangeable components. This is the Project LEVA innovation, and it means a single-vehicle architecture can accommodate two different types of battery configurations.
Lotus has hinted that these configurations could be used for the eagerly anticipated Lotus electric sports car – scheduled for launch in 2026 – as well as for third-party clients through Lotus Engineering.
Richard Moore, executive director of engineering at Lotus Cars, commented: “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.”
Funding for the project came in part from the Advanced Route to Market Demonstrator programme (ARMD). Awarded by the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the programme is delivered on behalf of the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) by Cenex.
Moore added: “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 commercialise.”
Richard Rackham, head of vehicle concepts, Lotus and responsible for leading Project LEVA, added: “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.”