British sports car brand Lotus has unveiled a new lightweight EV architecture that it says will be integrated into the company’s next generation of electric sports cars, to support multiple layouts, wheelbase lengths, battery sizes, and configurations.
Lotus unveiled its new lightweight chassis technology on Tuesday, just weeks after it confirmed it would be launching a new family of EV performance cars. Unsurprisingly, then, this new chassis platform will underpin the promised new family of EVs.
The new chassis structure was developed through the company’s Project LEVA – which stands for Lightweight Electric Vehicle Architecture – a research program with which Lotus hopes to fast-track the development of new lightweight structures for its next-generation battery electric vehicles (BEVs).
The resulting structure will be integrated into the company’s new architecture for electric sports cars and will drastically reduce the chassis weight. For comparison, Lotus says that the rear structure is 37% lighter than it is on the Lotus Emira V6.
As the animation below shows, the new chassis structure can be modified for a two-seat sports car with a standard wheelbase, a longer wheelbase, or a 4-seat longer wheelbase car.
The modularity is made possible through a lightweight die-cast rear sub-frame with multiple interchangeable components, meaning that a single vehicle architecture can accommodate two different types of battery configurations.
Cylindrical battery cells are used for higher energy density and the new chassis structure allows for either a chest layout – where the modules are stacked vertically behind the two seats – or a slab layout – where the battery modules are laid horizontally under the cabin.
Lotus’ Project LEVA program was funded in part by the Advanced Route to Market Demonstrator program (ARMD) awarded by the UK government, and is delivered on behalf of the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) by Cenex.
“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,” said Richard Moore, executive director of engineering at Lotus Cars.
“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.”