Lotus, who recently confirmed it will be launching a new family of performance electric cars, has revealed innovative new lightweight chassis technology that will underpin its electric sports car range.
The new structure has been developed through Project Lightweight Electric Vehicle Architecture (LEVA). Project LEVA is a research programme that’s accelerating the development of new lightweight structures for next-generation battery electric vehicles (BEVs).
This new structure developed through Project LEVA will be integrated into the company’s new electric sports cars. The new rear structure is 37 percent lighter than it is on the Lotus Emira V6 making it ideal for electric vehicles where weight is critical.
The Project LEVA lightweight chassis technology will be officially shown at the Low Carbon Vehicle event taking place on 22/23 September. A new animation from Lotus reveals how the technology will form part of the new electric sports car chassis.
The animation illustrates the versatile nature of this all-new Lotus-developed electric vehicle (EV) architecture. What’s neat is that it’s fully adaptable to provide a platform for a range of electric vehicles with variable layouts, wheelbase lengths, battery sizes and configurations.
As the animation on the Lotus Forums shows, all three layouts feature a common lightweight die-cast rear sub-frame with multiple interchangeable components. This also means a single vehicle architecture can accommodate two different types of battery configurations.
Firstly, it can accommodate a chest-style layout, where the modules are stacked vertically behind the two seats. This layout is a ‘mid-mounted power pack’, ideal for electric sports cars and electric hypercars. This because of a low overall ride height and low centre of gravity is required, and as seen on the Lotus Evija all-electric hypercar.
The second configuration is a slab style layout, where the modules are integrated horizontally under the cabin. This is most suitable for vehicles where a higher ride height and a taller overall profile is required. This is often referred to as a ‘skateboard power pack’ layout.
The innovative new subframe features cylindrical battery cells for high energy density, with the option of a single or twin electronic drive unit (EDU) to support. Cold cure, spot bonding and advanced weld processes mean reduces the environmental impact during assembly.
This unique degree of flexibility and modularity in wheelbase and propulsion solutions will be the genesis for a wide variety of electric vehicle applications. These will feature in Lotus’ first electric sports car, which is scheduled for launch in 2026, as well as for third-party clients through Lotus Engineering.
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 internal combustion engine (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 at Lotus, 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.”
Along with Project LEVA being on display at the Low Carbon Vehicle event, the Lotus will also have their Lotus Evija, the world’s first pure-electric British hypercar. The car, an engineering prototype, will be ‘naked’ with several body panels removed to allow visitors to see key components and systems.