Lotus is still on track to launch the hybrid city car it showed at the Geneva Salon in March — and there will be a Proton version, with both due in 2014.
You may recall the Norfolk sportscar maker’s onslaught at the Swiss motor show earlier this year, when it revealed a five year plan and six new cars. Most of the limelight shone on the new Esprit, Elan and front engined Elite GT and Eterne super-saloon, but a little Lotus parked up at the back of the stand raised some eyebrows too.
Inspite of announcements since then that some of those sports cars are being put on hold, Lotus Chief Technical Officer Wolf Zimmerman has re-affirmed plans to launch the city car in 2014, along with a Proton badged version of the same vehicle.
Based on the Proton EMAS conecpt, Lotus’ version of the supermini boasted that company’s hybrid range extender technology that the sports car maker, owned by Malaysia’s Proton, has been working on for some time. Equipped with an engine designed specifically for range externder applications, the 1.2 litre three cylinger runs at a constant speed to provide electrical power only, which either powers the electric motors driving the rear wheels or recharges the batteries. In such applications the engine runs at its most efficeint speed regardless of vehicle speed — the engine could be revving at peak operating speed even when the car is stationary, with the power going to charge the batteries. More likely, however, low speed operating will be done using only battery power for zero tail pipe emissions.
The Lotus version of the car, which may be badged Ethos, would weight around 1400kg, even with batteries, with a top speed of around 110mph, 0-62mph in 9 seconds and CO2 emissions of just 60g/km. The battery only range would be around 35 miles.
Proton may also use the Lotus range extender, but is likely to also use existing, more conventionial engines, all of which it licences from Mitsubishi. Their version of the car would effectively replace the Savvy in the line-up and be marketed throughout Asia, South America and in some European markets. The Lotus version would be aimed at Europe and North America.
Both versions are expected to be built at Proton’s factory in Perak, Malaysia, but with the Lotus version trimmed at Hethel (like Aston Martin finishes Japan-built Toyota iQs to turn them into the Cygnet). Expect the Lotus version to cost around £30,000 when it goes on sale in 2014. No clues on the cost of the Proton badged car, but conventionally powered versions would need to sit at around £8,000 to be competitive.