Lotus at The Birmingham Motorshow 2000


Autobytel championship 1 Autobytel championship 2 Elise (2front3-4) Elise (above) Elise (front3-4) Elise (interior)
Autobytel 1 Autobytel 2 Elise 1 Elise 2 Elise 3 Elise 4
Elise (rear3-4) Elise (side) Esprit V8 Esprit V8-GT Exige (front) Exige (front3-4)
Elise 5 Elise 6 Esprit V8 Esprit V8 GT Exige 1 Exige 2
Exige (rear3-4) Extreme (front3-4) Extreme (rear3-4) M250 (front) M250 (side)
Exige 3 Extreme 1 Extreme 2 M250 1 M250 2

Lotus Today

Latest News from Lotus

This year at the Birmingham International Motorshow Lotus is showing six different cars, ranging from current production models to glimpses of what we might be driving in the not too distant future.

The Elise is reborn: quicker, more agile and even more exciting to drive.

Development of the stunning Project M250 (having been given the green light for production) is progressing extremely well and will be seen on the world's roads in early 2002.

The Lotus Extreme the latest concept car from Lotus (designed by Ted Mannerfelt, a Coventry University Student, in conjunction with Lotus) takes the key principles of Lotus (fun to drive, performance through lightweight, great ride and handling and innovation) and clothes them in a radical two seater, 450kg sportscar with a hybrid engine that would give a 0-60mph sprint in around 5 seconds and a top speed of 150 mph as well as a fuel consumption figure of 110mpg without compromising performance.

The Sport Elise is fresh from a season of frantic racing around Europe in the marque's Autobytel Lotus Championship.

The Lotus Exige is its road going cousin that brings racecar levels of performance within the reach of the average motorist.

The 2000 Birmingham line-up is completed with the Esprit, the classic supercar that combines performance speed and luxury.

But it's not only sportscars at Lotus.  Here's a glimpse of some of the other projects we're working on:

Lotus Engineering - Developments for the future

Lotus Engineering is set to radically shape current thinking on engine development through a number of key technological projects undertaken by Lotus Technologies Group. Lotus is leading the way in pioneering research and implementation which will result in the full management of the combustion process within an engine. This will in turn lead to high increases in fuel efficiency and will drastically cut emissions levels.

Direct Injection - Gasoline and Natural Gas

The automotive industry has in recent years looked to GDI as the way forward in decreasing fuel consumption. Early exploiters hastily quoted fuel savings of up to 40% but none have achieved anywhere near this level. Attainments by most have only been in single figures. All the developments to date have been made with modified stratified charge engines. That is until now.

Lotus Engineering has been working on a fully homogeneous system which is now collecting data within a working vehicle. The vehicle is a standard production model with a 1.8 litre engine. The only major modification to the engine has been the substitution of the port injector with the special direct injection system. Therefore, unlike previous GDI engines where the combustion chamber shape has been compromised, this engine has not needed to be altered in any way from its basic form so no extra cost has had to go into engine or platform development.

Initial data has found fuel economies of between 5 and 10% with greatly reduced emissions levels.

Lotus Engineering has also been the first in the world to build and run a Natural Gas Direct Injection Engine. The four cylinder engine has produced ground breaking reduction in emissions of 60% HC, 26% NOx and 20-25% CO2.

Active Valve Train - AVT

A fully flexible valve train system is seen by the automotive industry as one of the key drivers in the future of engine performance and fuel economy. AVT (Active Valve Train) eliminates the restrictions placed upon an engine by conventional camshaft profiling and allows the optimisation of the gas exchange process across the whole engine speed and load range.

As with GDI, Lotus Engineering has been taking a fresh approach in looking at engine developments. Where many are utilising electro-magnetic AVT, Lotus is developing an electro-hydraulic system. The Lotus system has evolved from technologies first introduced by Lotus within active suspension in Formula 1 vehicles and anti-noise research.

Lotus has built and developed an electro-hydraulic AVT system which is currently being used to investigate Active Combustion (or controlled auto-ignition). The system has proved so successful that Lotus Engineering is working on prototype versions. The first Lotus AVT production prototype will be ready for engine testing by Christmas 2000.
Preliminary results from the Lotus developed AVT have shown that a fuel consumption of 80mpg is attainable with current engine management system technology.

Active Combustion

Lotus Engineering is set to 'master' the combustion process having controlled the active combustion process using Active Valve Train within a four-stroke engine. Active combustion (AC) is a controlled sparkless ignition where temperature and chemical effect of exhaust residuals initiate the combustion process.

Active Combustion has three primary benefits:
- improved combustion stability
- reduced fuel consumption
- reduced NOx emissions

In the traditional engine there is a single point of ignition, around the spark plug, which then spreads throughout the combustion chamber. During Active Combustion, ignition takes place at multiple points simultaneously and so effects a more stable and thorough burn of fuel.

The process is achieved with a combination of fuel, air and exhaust gas under specific temperature and pressure. Where the process of AC has previously been achieved air has required heating prior to delivery to initiate the combustion process. Lotus Engineering achieve AC without going through this procedure and delivering air at ambient temperature.

Preliminary results are causing great excitement with emissions levels decreased by up to 95% whilst showing increased fuel economy of up to 20%!  A detailed AC operating map of speed and load will be available by February 2001.

The research undertaken by Lotus Engineering has been made possible through the application of its knowledge in AVT in conjunction with its Optical Access Engine. This engine is allowing Lotus Engineers to actually see what goes on during the combustion process and so manage it more effectively.

The majority of previous studies into Active Combustion have centred around 2-stroke engines but Lotus has concentrated on developments using a single-cylinder four-stroke engine.

Lotus Makes Combustion Transparent

Lotus Engineering has designed, developed and validated a new optical access single cylinder research engine. Existing optical research engines have been shown to be limited by speed, degree of optical access, robustness or ease of use but the Lotus designed engine has overcome all of these challenges. It offers the opportunity to move combustion diagnostics and calibration to a rapid development environment.

The optical access is achieved via a combination of fused silica cylinder, pent roof combustion chamber and optical piston crown (sapphire.) The optical techniques to be used with the engine include phase Doppler anemometry, high speed imaging and laser induced fluorescence.

The engine is now being commissioned and will be capable of being motored or fired to speeds up to 5000 rpm and pressures of 60bar. It has the ability to operate at real engine speeds and loads and is easily adaptable to new engine geometrics.

Simon Wood, Director of Lotus Technologies Group says," Our optical access engine is set to rewrite engine development processes. Traditionally research into fuel economy and emissions has been difficult to manage as the fuel injection and combustion processes under real engine operating conditions have taken place 'out of sight'. Now we can see exactly what's happening, where it's happening and understand why it's happening. Savings in time and cost of development will be significant."

The optical access engine is currently being utilised by Lotus Engineering for analysing fuel sprays for direct injection, active combustion and active valve train developments.

Lotus Engineering is working in collaboration with Loughborough University on this project.

Lotus has been commissioned to manufacture the new Opel Speedster / Vauxhall VX220.

Lotus has worked in co-operation with Opel and Vauxhall from the start of the project. Together with designers and engineers from the Opel/Vauxhall International Technical Development Centre in Ruesselsheim, Germany, Lotus built the original concept show car - one of the stars of the March 1999 Geneva Motor Show.

Powered by Opel/Vauxhall's all-new, aluminium ECOTEC, 2.2 litre, four-cylinder gasoline engine, the Speedster/VX220 will go into production soon.

New Manufacturing Facility

Lotus is completing a new manufacturing facility, which will take Lotus production capacity from 3,500 to 10,000 units per annum. Two new assembly lines have been installed to accommodate the Elise and Opel Speedster / Vauxhall VX220, in the final stage of a significant investment programme to accommodate the increase in manufacturing demand.

For the first time in Lotus' history at the Hethel site, the whole of the manufacturing process for Lotus cars from body build through paint shop and vehicle assembly will be located in one bespoke area. This will enable Lotus to increase both the efficiency and productivity of the build process for both Lotus cars and products built by Lotus for other manufacturers.

Lotus Design to move to a brand new facility

Lotus' new Research and Development Centre building has been completed.  Lotus Design, under the leadership of Chief Designer Russell Carr, which has designed and styled many products for both Lotus and external engineering clients, is the first department to move into a bespoke styling studio, designed to fulfil all the needs of a world leading vehicle design studio in the 21st Century.

But it's not all happening in Norfolk

In November 1998 Lotus purchased an engineering centre in the Midlands specialising in rapid prototyping, body engineering and model build. This facility, now known as Lotus Coventry, has given Lotus the opportunity to bring in-house previously out-sourced work, enabling Lotus to provide its world-wide client base with an even more comprehensive engineering service.

And last year, Lotus expanded its diesel engineering capabilities by embarking on a venture with the world-renowned engineers of Powertrain Technology Limited from Shoreham-by-Sea in Southern England. Interestingly, diesel engine development accounts for over 25% of all powertrain work that Lotus undertakes - quite a surprising fact considering that the many still believe that Lotus is only about high-performance petrol engined sportscars!

And, with what is likely to be the most important strategic move for any automotive consultancy this year, Lotus acquired a new Testing and Development Facility business in Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.A. This world recognised testing facility (formerly Michigan Automotive Research Corporation - M.A.R.C.O.) includes: 27 engine and transmission test beds, emissions certification testing, engine build workshops rolling roads and other leading automotive testing facilities together with over 50 skilled engineers, technicians and administrators.
To accompany this acquisition, Lotus Engineering will be opening a brand new USA Engineering Centre in Southfield, Michigan USA in November of this year.
The Southfield and Ann Arbor facilities, on the doorstep of the most important automotive manufacturing region in the world, will be known as Lotus Engineering Inc. and will be an extension of Lotus Engineering's hi-tech UK operations. This expansion will enable Lotus to run all types of automotive engineering programs in the US, from initial concept and project design through development to full production prototype build, including whole vehicle projects.

These new facilities all complement Lotus' existing structures at its Hethel Headquarters, and of course will not be a substitute for any of the work done at Hethel.

That is why 33 clients from around the world are working with Lotus on over 50 major engineering projects. Indeed this year, 10% of all new cars sold in Europe will have a Lotus designed engine!

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