► Lotus reveals its lightweight secrets
► How Hethel saved 207kg from its cars
► Dieting remains core Lotus value
Lotus and lightweight are two words inextricably linked. And we’re pleased to say that the values of founder Colin Chapman appear to be alive and well – Hethel has just announced it’s saved a total of 207kg from its cars in the first four months of 2016 alone.
The heaviest car produced in Norfolk weighs in at 1395 kilos, while many Elises are nearer the magic tonne.
And it’s not stopping there: the company today issued a rallying call for lightweighting fans everywhere, as it pledged to continue its crusade against obesity.
How Lotus strips out unnecessary weight
The sports car maker famously uses a lightweight aluminium bonded chassis across its range (see the Evora front sub-frame below), with composite body panels and little appetite for creature comforts to send kerbweights spiralling.
All new products are designed in the aptly named Lightweight Laboratory, according to Lotus.
The last time we visited Hethel, we saw cars stripped to their bare components as engineers worked out how to slice away any unnecessary flab. Latest weight savings which contributed to the range-wide 207kg cull include:
- Extruded and bonded aluminium tubs Elise/Exige chassis now weighs 68kg
- Use of carbonfibre Evora Sport 410 saves 70kg through composites
- Lithium-ion batteries Typically save 10kg
- Carbon sports seats Trimming 6kg from mass
- Louvred rear window Saves 3kg on Exige Sport 350 (below)
- Thinner body panels Same car cuts 12kg by slimmer bodywork
- Forged alloy wheels Latest Elise uses 5kg lighter rims
Mission diet: the boss speaks
Jean-Marc Gales, CEO of Group Lotus, remains committed to lightweighting. ‘Colin Chapman famously said, “Adding power makes you faster on the straights, subtracting weight makes you faster everywhere,” and that thinking has become part of our DNA.
‘To perfect a pure sports car, you must consider weight your enemy. Lose weight and you will make significant gains: harder and faster cornering, better braking, greater agility and responsiveness, along with faster acceleration.’
Music to our ears.