Lotus has unveiled its next-generation architecture for its forthcoming electric sports cars, and its rear structure is claimed by the manufacturer to be 37% lighter than that of the recently launched Emira, that is powered by either a turbocharged inline-four or supercharged V6 engine.
Developed through Project LEVA, or Lightweight Electric Vehicle Architecture, there will be three configurations utilising two layouts. These will form the basis of future Lotus products, both as complete cars and as other, third-party applications through the Lotus Engineering consultancy arm.
The first of these is a two-seater structure that houses an eight-module battery pack in a ‘chest’ configuration where the battery modules are vertically stacked, and this is described as a “mid-mounted power pack” much like an internal combustion engine’s location in a rear-mid-engined chassis.
This will have a wheelbase of at least 2,470 mm, maximum battery capacity of 66.4 kWh and a maximum of 350 kW (470 hp) from a single electronic drive unit (EDU) layout, and will therefore underpin the more compact of future models from Lotus.
The second “chest” configuration battery pack configuration is a larger one, to house a 12-module battery pack also vertically stacked and located behind its occupants. Cars built from this version will sport wheelbase lengths of over 2,650 mm, a maximum battery capacity of 99.6 kWh, and boast of a dual EDU layout with up to 650 kW (872 hp) of output.
The third is of a slightly different configuration, namely of the “skateboard” layout where the vehicle’s battery is in “slab” form and is located beneath the cabin. This will be for a 2+2 occupant layout where a taller ride height and a taller overall profile for more cabin space is required.
Being for larger models, this third layout will also materialise with wheelbase lengths upwards of 2,650 mm, while maximum battery capacity is 66.4 kWh. This will offer either a single or dual EDU configuration, with up to 470 hp or 872 hp respectively.
The first of these new electric vehicles from Lotus on the new architecture will debut from next year, starting with an UV currently codenamed Type 132 and rumoured to be called the Lambda. The Type 133 that follows in 2023 will be a sedan, after which a smaller SUV dubbed Type 134 will arrive in 2025. A new sports car under the codename Type 135 is set for debut in 2026.
The aforementioned shared use of the new platform for products through Lotus Engineering could be that which be being co-developed with Alpine, and its mid-decade debut timeline ties in with the 2026 arrival of the Type 135.
“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,” said head of vehicle concepts engineer Richard Rackham, whose work developed the extruded aluminium structure of the Lotus Elise.
The new architecture that encloses the battery pack within the vehicle’s structure eliminates having to use bolted-on subframes, while the car’s mutli-link suspension parts can be further optimised, Rackham added.
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