Lotus goes 'green' with Elise
Perhaps the world’s purest sports car, the Lotus Elise, is showcasing its environmentally friendly side at the British motor show this week.
Eco: the even lighter Elise
Although the Elise, with its chemically bonded aluminium chassis, low mass and huge performance thanks to a tremendous power to weight ratio is hardly in the Italian supercar CO2 emission league. Lotus though, is always keen to showcase efficient performance car technologies.
With the Eco Elise on display at the British motor show in London this week the Hethel based engineering consultancy aims to share its vision of holistic environmentally friendly performance motoring.
Lotus is at pains to not only measure CO2 numbers (although the Eco Elise includes an economy minded shiftlight function), it wants to thread a new engineering philosophy right into the construction and efficient cooperation of performance vehicles as a whole.
Lotus says they’ve added more lightness to the Elise, which is a not only a remarkable semantic achievement (we assume they meant ‘shaved weight off’), but the 32kg trimmer Eco Elise now weighs a positively bunny lane friendly 828kg. A key driver of the trimming exercise here are the new lightweight wheels which save 15.8kg over the already standard Elise wheels.
Weighing less than half of conventional sports car competitors whilst retaining outstanding driving dynamics, the Elise is already a veritable emissions saint amongst performance cars. The Eco Elise showcases just how guilt free potential Elise ownership can get.
Clever materials, cleaner manufacturing
Renewable materials – such as hemp, eco wool and sisal - provide natural, biodegradable engineering materials for the Eco Elise.
On the manufacturing side water based paint technology reduces paint shop solvent emissions. Using this paint system saves energy and reduces emissions of solvents from the paint shop.
With the use of locally farmed hemp, the carbon miles to produce the Eco Elise are reduced, in keeping with the holistic approach to this vehicle.
The seats are upholstered in a durable yet, biodegradable woollen fabric, this new material does not use any dyes or harmful processing. In fact the colour is created from the selection of sheep breeds used to produce the wool for the yarn.
Attention to detail of the interior materials and construction have been meticulous, including a lightweight stereo and speaker system from Alpine that saves an impressive 1.5 kg.
Sisal is a renewable crop that, like hemp, is used for its strong material properties. Sisal has been used for the carpets in the car, as it is a tough, abrasion resistant material.
The hemp hard top on the vehicle has two flexible solar panels neatly embedded in the roof, contributing power to the electrical systems and saving energy that would be drained from the engine.
Solar panels have been set into the hemp hard top to help power the electrical systems and give a means of renewable energy generation.
This application shows the installation of solar panels into a composite "A" class panel with a double curvature. Practically useless in most of Europe, solar enhanced power would be of practical interest to customers in the Southern hemisphere most particularly South African and Australia.
Using this technology on a greater number of panels would make it possible to provide more power, especially on a larger vehicle than the diminutive Elise.
Many may say the Eco Elise is a cynical exercise, especially consider the Elise underpinned Tesla Roadster provides true emission free electric performance.
Despite the garish earth-tone colour scheme the Eco Elise is a sign of forward thinking at Hethel so characteristic of what Colin Chapman had in mind when he found the famous British lightweight performance car manufacturer.