Lotus Goes Electric
In a marriage seemingly well matched, electric automobile pioneer ZAP has chosen Lotus Engineering's platform and body structure design as the basis for the development of the high performance electric ZAP-X. The car is based on the advanced APX (Aluminium Performance Crossover) concept car and will be shown for the first time at the North American Dealers Association (NADA) exhibition which opens February 3rd. A combination of the lightweight aluminium vehicle architecture, a new efficient drive and advanced battery management systems is intended to enable a range of up to 350 miles between charges, with a rapid 10-minute recharging time. An auxiliary power unit is planned to support longer distance journeys. The good news for sports enthusiasts is the performance courtesy of a killer power-to-weight ratio. - four in-hub electric motors, deliver 161 bhp apiece, which add together for 644 horsepower in all wheel drive mode, and capable of powering the ZAP-X to a top speed of 155mph.
Steve Schneider, CEO of ZAP, said: "Lotus Engineering's APX technology demonstrator vehicle is a perfect fit for our plans to introduce a full product portfolio of electric cars. Due to the initial design by Lotus, our cost and time to production will be significantly reduced. We believe that the ZAP-X will become the most advanced, most practical and most appealing flagship electric vehicle to date and will revolutionize the industry providing the driver with the enjoyment of a sports car and the practicality of an SUV."
Mike Kimberley, CEO of Group Lotus plc, said: "Lotus Engineering's APX is a world-class innovative concept and was developed to showcase real solutions to new challenges facing the automotive industry. So it's very satisfying that ZAP's proposed new model will make use of a great deal of the APX concept's advanced body structure and chassis technology. The bringing together of these next-generation vehicle technologies represents another significant step forward for automotive technology."
The APX showcases Lotus Engineering's Versatile Vehicle Architecture technology, combining lightweight aluminium vehicle architecture with exceptionally strong and stiff structural rigidity, as well as lower manufacturing investment requirements. Having first been shown to the world at the Geneva motor show in 2006, the APX concept has won the 2006 European Aluminium Awards in the "Transport and Automotive" category.
The innovative placement of the power train leaves the space previously occupied by the conventional engine and drive train for additional battery capacity and amenities, making it a very consumer-oriented electric car concept. These design features will give the ZAP-X crossover the structural strength, and potentially storage and range that no electric vehicle has yet achieved publicly.
The development programme is proposed to be managed from a new centre of excellence for research and development of environmentally-friendly vehicle designs and technologies.
Engineering input will come from Lotus Engineering Inc, and the British technology consultancy's other R&D centres in the UK, Malaysia and China.