Lotus plans to be greenest car maker

Published: 04 June 2008

Lotus will find out this month if its bid to become Britain’s cleanest car maker has been successful. Lotus and green fuel specialist Ecotricity plan to erect three wind turbines to supply all the company’s electricity needs – and make it the UK’s first electric carbon-neutral car factory.

Any excess power created by the 60m diameter wind turbines will be fed back into the national grid – earning money for Group Lotus. The three turbines will produce 6MW, enough electricity to power 5250 homes.

Lotus plans dashed by the RAF

However, the planning application has already been thwarted once – by the RAF which claimed the 120m tall wind turbines could damage radar performance at nearby RAF Trimingham. It has subsequently withdrawn its objection.

The revised application is now before South Norfolk District Council, which will announce its decision on 11 June 2008.

Free electricity… what’s not to like?

Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity, said: ‘This is an exciting project, and I'm delighted that Lotus is taking its responsibility to the environment so seriously. The company won't be spending any additional money on its energy supply, but will have peace of mind knowing that its all part of a growing movement to redress climate change.’

Click ‘Next’ to read more about Lotus’s green credentials

Lotus: less is more

If approved, the turbines will be installed and operating within 18 months. Lotus has form on green issues, of course. Its ethic of minimal cars fabricated from lightweight aluminium and plastics and powered by small engines means its cars are already unusually fuel efficient for sports models.

It’s also developing a raft of alternative fuelled cars (see links at foot of page) and hybrid drivetrains, as well as cooperating with Tesla to make its electric coupe.

It’s a material world

Moreover, Lotus is also developing body panels made from hemp – a lightweight natural material that could prove more environmentally friendly than glassfibre. And it sends 51 percent of its waste to recycling.

Eat your heart out Toyota?

While the measures Lotus is taking are impressive – especially for such a small manufacturer – there’s little point believing that Hethel’s green programme will stop global warming.

But don’t forget that Lotus R&D engineers work on projects with most major manufacturers – and numerous hybrid vehicles are being developed in Norfolk.

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet