Lotus Eco Elise first pictures

Published: 09 July 2008

No you haven’t been smoking something - this really is a Lotus made from hemp. Called the Eco Elise, Lotus will unveil thus eco-friendly concept car at the London motor show later this month. The car is supposed to take Lotus founder Colin Chapman’s ethos of ‘performance through lightweight’ to the next level, using sustainable materials to create an Elise that has better environmental credentials throughout its entire lifecycle.

So what’s ‘green’ about this Lotus Eco Elise?

That brown trim for a start. Lotus has used hemp, ‘eco wool’ and sisal – all sustainable materials – for the interior trim and roof. The hemp (grown near to Lotus's Hethel plant) is mixed with a resin to form the seats and hardtop, and Lotus is hoping to develop a recyclable resin in the near future. The roof also features solar panels to charge the car’s electrical systems.

Hard-wearing sisal is used for the carpets while the seat covers are made from biodegradable wool. No dyes are used on the wool either, the colours coming from different breeds of sheep.

Click 'Next' below to read more about the Lotus Eco Elise

What else?

In its bid to become a ‘green’ manufacturer Lotus has develop a new water-based paint with Du Pont that can be cured at a lower temperature and be applied by hand rather than by robot. This saves energy and reduces the pollutants coming from the paint shop.

There’s also a gearshift indicator but rather than glowing red and flashing at the point where you’ll get the most performance, as in the standard car, it now blinks green and advises you of the most economical time to shift gear.

Any special weight reductions?

Somehow Lotus has trimmed another 15.8kg from the already lightweight alloy wheels while 1.5kg has been shaved off the stereo system. In total 32kg has been saved, taking the kerbweight down to 828kg

‘This Eco Elise is a great example of the advanced and affordable green technologies Lotus is developing,’ said Mike Kimberley, CEO of Group Lotus. ‘The Lotus brand values of lightweight, fuel efficient, and high performance are more relevant today than they ever have been. We are keen to ensure that Lotus as a company and its products offer an ethical, green option that appeals to our customers.’

You can see the Lotus Eco Elise at the London motor show later this month, though it won't appear on the Lotus stand alongside the new Eagle, but in the Greener Driving Pavilion. Click here to visit our motorshow homepage.

For your chance to win tickets to the London motor show click here. 

By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy