Lotus will partner with Britishvolt, a UK battery manufacturer, to develop a new, high-performance sports car, the two companies announced today.
The “innovative” new battery technology they’re working on is expected to also find its way into more mainstream EV applications. The partners did not provide details about the chemistry Britishvolt is working on, beyond saying it is an “advanced” form of today’s lithium-ion batteries.
“These are the first exciting steps on the journey towards an all-new electric sports car from Lotus,” said Matt Windle, the British automaker’s managing director.
Last year, Lotus Cars announced it will end production of gas-powered models and, Windle noted in a statement, shift to “a pure electric future.”
“In the coming months,” he noted, “we will be unveiling the Type 132, an all-new and all-electric Lotus SUV and we’ve confirmed three more EVs are on the way.”
The lighter the better
The Type 132, the first Lotus battery-electric vehicle, will use batteries from an existing manufacturer. Neither Lotus nor Britishvolt would say which future product will switch to the new lithium-ion technology. But the “key goals,” they emphasized, “will be fast charging, optimizing energy density and weight reduction.”
The latter target is directly in line with the classic Lotus mantra laid out by founder Colin Chapman, “Simply, then add lightness.”
That is a challenge with today’s battery-electric vehicles which can add hundreds of pounds of mass compared to similar products using internal combustion engines.
Engineers are addressing this in a variety of ways that likely will show up in the sports car Lotus and Britishvolt announced:
- New chemistry will increase the energy density — the amount of power that can be stored in a given mass of batteries;
- New pack designs will squeeze in more batteries in a given space. Currently, batteries make up about a third of a typical pack’s weight. Experts say that could rise to 80 percent.
Lotus and Britishvolt released a simplified rendering of the sports car they are working. It clearly follows the classic Lotus design language but appears to put even more emphasis on aerodynamics. Cheating the wind helps improve both performance and range.
Ironically, despite some of the drawbacks of electrification — notably the added weight — performance-focused manufacturers are learning that the technology offers numerous advantages, starting with the instant torque that electric motors deliver. And they can punch out gobs of horsepower in a small powertrain package. Mounting multiple motors on front and rear axles offer the advantages of all-wheel drive, as well as torque vectoring.
The batteries for the Lotus sports car will be produced at a new plant in Great Britain, the partners announced.
Big plans for the future
Meanwhile, Lotus is investing about 100 million British pounds, or $134 million, in new facilities for Lotus. That includes a manufacturing complex in Hethel already slated to produce the Emira sports car and the all-electric Evija hypercar.
Lotus is jointly owned by Malaysia’s Etika Automotive and China’s Geely — the latter also owning Sweden’s Volvo.
Since it was founded in 1948, Lotus has focused on racing, as well as the production of exotic sports cars, while also serving as an engineering center for other manufacturers. Going forward, it plans to produce only battery-electric models starting in 2028. But it is taking a cue from larger rivals, such as Ferrari and Aston Martin, with plans to broaden its portfolio to include high-end utility vehicles and sedans.
The Detroit Bureau Read More