Lotus, un automóvil eléctrico para desplazamientos urbanos

Según Russell Carr, uno de los responsables de Diseño de Lotus, ‘en muchos hogares con más de un automóvil, uno de nuestros coches tendría que ser como el que proponemos, el idóneo para realizar cortos trayectos por ciudad’.

El coche urbano de Lotus tendrá un motor eléctrico de 37 kW (unos 50 CV). Los packs de batería son de iones de litio y estarán colocados bajo el piso del automóvil. Tienen una capacidad de 10 kW/h.

Con las baterías cargadas al completo, Lotus asegura que su coche urbano tendrá una autonomía de unos 50 km, además de poder alcanzar una velocidad máxima de 105 km/h. Para recargarlas, bastaría conectarlas a una toma de enchufe convencional de 13 amperios. En sólo tres horas y media, estarían otra vez cargadas.

Además del tamaño compacto del futuro Lotus urbano, que tiene 2.600 mm de longitud, 1.600 mm de anchura y 1.700 mm de altura, la ligereza será otra de sus notas predominantes, ya que para el techo se utilizará un aluminio especial, mientras que para el resto de la carrocería se usará aluminio y composite.

El nuevo Lotus es muy parecido al del Smart Fortwo y Toyota iQ, aunque respecto a éstos añade algo realmente novedoso: el futuro auto urbano de Lotus tendrá cuatro asientos reales para cuatro adultos.
El espacio interior se podrá adaptar según las necesidades, con sólo los dos asientos utilizables o con los cuatro, para lo cual bastaría hacer deslizar tales asientos ligeramente hacia atrás en detrimento de la superficie de carga.


A Lotus Blossoms With Electric City Car Concept

When the folks at Automotive Engineer magazine sought a lightweight, versatile electric car concept, they looked no further than Lotus for their nearly spiritual devotion to automotive parsimony.

Within a month, according to AE Editor Tristan Honeywill, the folks at Lotus Engineering developed a detailed concept that was at once radical and down to earth: Four passengers (or two with luggage), a baseline range of 31 miles that’s expandable with additional batteries and a top speed of 65 mph. Honeywill told Autopia that the concept represents a shift in thinking from “range anxiety” to “range awareness” — detailed in a recent AE article (PDF).

The car certainly looks cool, but it’s the underlying philosophy that draws our attention. Instead of creating a car that could be all things to all drivers, Lotus’ unnamed concept asks drivers to be aware of their needs and choose the right tool for the right job. After all, Honeywill noted, “many households have more than one car.”

The design team’s philosophy remains underpinned by solid engineering. Sliding doors, rear-wheel drive and a tight turning radius allow for easy parking. The driver’s seat slides flat in order to improve access for rear passengers. All the electronics are underneath the passenger compartment to keep a low center of gravity and high visibility, while in-car entertainment that relies on a Bluetooth connection to an existing iPod or Blackberry eliminates wiring harnesses and control panels.

The crash structure doubles as an air intake for the air-cooled batteries, and the bonded aluminum lower structure would be versatile enough to accomodate anything from a spartan pickup to a luxury city cruiser. “The idea is like the way Volkswagen got the camper van, the Karmann Ghia and the Type 4 sedan and estate all from the same piece of engineering,” vehicle architect Richard Rackham told AE. In his vision for the car, the lower structure and roll cage could be “flat packed” and shipped so that various body styles could be assembled locally. In such a case, Lotus’ involvement would be strictly “behind the scenes.”

Best of all, the designers took care not to reduce the car to what Honeywill called the “plastic and tin electric cars on the market today.” The concept features an epicyclic transmission with a five-to-one reduction that allows quick sprints from 0-40 mph. “We wanted to make this thing a bit nippy and fun to get people into it,” Rackham told AE. That also includes the suspension. “It may not be a double wishbone with a damper,” he said. “It could be a strut type. We didn’t look into this too much but we’d definitely use the same suspension components on all four corners”.