28 December 2011

Lotus World Vehicle Concept - a pointer to Lotus City car?

Lotus Engineering revealed their latest undertaking in the form of efficient compact supermini designed to tackle the vehicle cost-effective design as well as to achieve the reduction in CO2 emission. The project was undertaken by Lotus Engineering of North America under the fund of International Council on Clean Transport.

The World Vehicle Concept represents a fun-to-drive, low-cost and back to basics commuter that provides practical and high volume solution for reducing the green house emission and improving fuel efficiency. The car is uniquely packaged with central driving position, two second row seat slightly behind the driver and the fourth seat is in the "third" row, slightly behind the second row passengers, right in the middle transverse-wise of the car. This solution enable the occasional seating for four, or as a luggage space totalling 255L. The overlapping of passenger and luggage enabled the compact footprint of just 3,100mm in length, 1,420mm in height and 2,240mm of wheelbase. To reduce the frontal area in quest of aerodynamic efficiency (Cd of 0.19), and to eliminate the dead space, tyres (155/80 R13) are mounted outboard. Not only this solution reduced the frontal area, it also improve the tracking stability.
The concept is stipulated to be powered by 600cc with 50bhp on tap. The engine is mounted midship, just ahead of rear axle. The frees up the space up front for crumple zone, a critical design element for compact city car, particularly with such compact dimension. The other advantage is in terms of vehicle dynamics, resulting in low polar moment of inertia, long withstanding advantage of mid engine layout. The inclusion of internal combustion engine is quite a rare proposal these days, especially in the era of EV and hybrid buzzword. However, Lotus Engineering has their own justification for this, which in the end tied up to the overall cost of the project. Fuel economy is projected to be in the region of 103 mpg. More photo and detail after the jump.

Advanced material is used to curb the weight down. High strength boron steel, aluminium, magnesium and composites are featured in the structural components, bringing the weight to a respectable 521kg. To further reduced the component in the cabin, instead of traditional instrument panel, the driver is expected to plug in his smart phone or tablet to reach for his data from the "cloud" computing. So the days when we accidentally left behind the mobile phone could be very disastrous indeed!
Will this World Vehicle Concept influenced their forthcoming Lotus City car? No one knows. However, the most important things is the Lotus City Car is tied up with our new Proton compact car, the EMAS, so will EMAS be this advanced in its packaging?

Well, with rumoured GSC project being done in collaboration with Proton partner Mitsubishi, and probably share major component with the new Mitsubishi Mirage, it is a distant unlikeness that our new homegrown supermini will be this radical. However, probably the influenced of Lotus styling will filter out to the detail of aerodynamics and chassis/platform design.