CONSIDERING that VW has reportedly pumped 60 billion Euros into its new ID range of electric models, Boris has got himself a bit of a bargain this week.
A government headed up by the former motoring correspondent for GQ – and I’m not making that up, I promise – has given a ‘significant’ amount of funding (although it won’t disclose how much) to Lotus.
Not to develop the long overdue successor to the Esprit, or to make the Elise four seconds quicker around Oulton Park on a track day. Nope, it’s all part of a plan to let the chaps down in Norfolk develop a new series of zero emissions vehicles – which is a good thing for anyone who cares about cars.
About two years ago I headed down to the factory in Hethel for the company’s 70th anniversary party, and while there was a fair bit of misty-eyed nostalgia for the Elan and its go-faster Cortinas, the real news was that its Chinese owner, Geely, wanted it to become a pioneering force for electric car tech.
Anyone who’s been watching another of Geely’s acquisitions lately, Volvo, will know that company’s gone for an all-out offensive with its electric and hybrid commitments, and now it seems Lotus is getting down to work too. Specifically, it’s been tasked with teaming with a tech company in Coventry called Sarginsons Industries and some academics at Brunel University, to harness the ‘light weighting’ potential of electric car tech. In other words, it’s been asked to do what Lotus founder Colin Chapman originally set out to do with internal combustion sports car – to add lightness.
Lighter cars aren’t just better for the environment, but they handle better too.
Lotus isn’t exactly being coy about what it’s getting out of all this eco-friendly stuff, either; it wants to develop “a full range of electrified Lotus performance cars, for the drivers.”
Forget the all-electric Evija supercar and its otherworldly £2.4m asking price; nope, we’re talking cars like the Elise, only ones that you can plug into the mains at night and go to bed, smug in the knowledge that David Attenborough will love your Lotus as much as you do. Obviously, it’ll be a couple of years before we see all of these zero emissions models, but I’ll happily sneak into Hethel and stick ‘Electric Esprit’ and ‘Electric Elan’ into the employee suggestion box if it helps.
If Lotus can make electric cars handle as balletically as its petrol-powered ones, and shave a bit of flab of in the process, then I’m all for it. Who knew that helping to cut our carbon emissions could be so much fun?
David Simister is the editor of Classic Car Weekly