Lotus Releases The Eco Elise To Showcase Its Green Ideas

Lotus Eco Elise
Lotus Eco Elise

Hemp, sisal and solar panels

Lotus is widely recognised for the superb dynamic behaviour of its cars, due to fine engineering, low weight and efficient engines. Despite the fact that many Lotus cars with their 1.8-liter engines defy V8 machines on the track, the British company decided to present to the world at the British Motor Show even better ways to reduce weight and save fuel.

Based on the already light Elise S (860 kg), the Eco Elise manages to be 32 kg lighter, removing 15.8 kg out from the wheels alone - not even the audio system escaped the weight reduction effort. Considering the engine is the same 1.8-litre Toyota that generates 134 bhp, this 4% reduction in weight will help the car's already amazing 0-to-100-km/h time of 6.1s be even better, as well as give it a slightly higher top speed. Even so, since the idea is to be greener, the Eco Elise should present better fuel consumption figures than the Elise S offers, which are already hard to beat for any sports car: 8.9 km/l in the city and 15.4 km/l on the road.

Besides the weight reduction, the Eco Elise also uses natural fibres, such as hemp and sisal in the body panels, seat fabrics and carpets. Although the body panels still need a polyester resin to be done, Lotus expects to have a fully recyclable resin in the next few years.

Another way to show the brand’s concern about the environment was putting a green shift light into the Eco Elise. As well as Lotus traditional red shift light helps drivers extract the maximum from the engine of its cars, the green light will help them drive in a fuel-saving way, when the car is not at a track, but at normal daily use. In the hard top, solar panels also help save energy.

The Eco Elise, which is not for sale, but may be, if customers demand it, will be presented at the British Motor Show, where it will surely be out of the spotlights due to the unfair competition with one of the most awaited new vehicles from Lotus, the Eagle.

Source: Lotus
Published Jul 10th, 2008 4:00pm By Gustavo Henrique Ruffo

Lotus Eco Elise
Trackday Warrior Turns Eco Warrior

Lotus unveils the Eco Elise technology demonstrator at the British Motor Show, capitalising on great strides forward in green technology. The Eco Elise project promotes a different perspective on “green”, one which does not revolve solely around tailpipe CO2. This holistic approach is in keeping with the progressive Lotus culture, driving Lotus to become the world’s green automotive consultancy.

Sustainable materials, hemp, eco wool and sisal have been developed for body panels and trim and, combined with hi-tech water based paint solutions, showcase new affordable green technologies.

The green credentials of the technology on show in the Eco Elise have been analysed throughout the lifecycle of the car. A green gear change display has been integrated into the dashboard to promote greener driving as well as a weight reduction programme, illustrating the holistic approach taken. The energy expended to manufacture the car has been evaluated, working to the 3R’s - Reduce, Re-use and Recycle.

Mike Kimberley, CEO of Group Lotus plc commented "This Eco Elise is a great example of the advanced and affordable green technologies Lotus is developing. We are at the cutting edge of environmental technology and are determined to push forward with our green agenda. 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".

In keeping with the “performance through light weight” philosophy, the Eco Elise weighs kg (70.5 lbs) less than the standard Elise S, which means that the efficient Elise S engine in the Eco Elise will give higher fuel economy figures and even better performance.

Dramatic improvements to the culture and operations at Lotus has rewarded the company with staggering reductions in energy (Electricity 14%, Gas 30%) and water (11%) consumed across the Hethel headquarters in 2007, compared to 2006. These advances have coincided with improvements in recycling, with 57% of waste product now being recycled.

The new green materials sourced for this car have been carefully studied to ensure that each technology used reduces the environmental impact of the vehicle. The life of the components has been analysed; during the production stage, in-use and at the end of the vehicle’s life. The technology used aims to offer lower emissions of both solvents and CO2 in the lifecycle of the vehicle, with reductions in energy consumed during manufacture. The Eco Elise will be displayed in the Greener Driving Pavilion at the British International Motor Show from 23rd July until 3rd August. The project displays affordable green technology that is intended to be feasible and production viable in the near term future.

The Lotus Eco Elise in more detail

The project focuses on developments in:
Sustainable materials
Cleaner manufacturing processes
Renewable energy generation
Reducing carbon miles
Efficient driving techniques
Weight reduction

The renewable materials have been incorporated into the project, with hemp, eco wool and sisal providing natural, biodegradable engineering materials. Cleaner manufacturing processes have been sought, utilising the latest water based paint technology. Using this paint system saves energy and reduces emissions of solvents from the paint shop. Solar panels have been set into the hemp hard top to help power the electrical systems and give a means of renewable energy generation. With the use of locally farmed hemp, the carbon miles to produce the Eco Elise are reduced, in keeping with the holistic approach to this vehicle. The Eco Elise puts an emphasis on efficient driving techniques by using an “economy” gear change display to improve fuel efficiency and promote greener driving. The car has undergone a weight reduction programme to add a little extra lightness, assisting in more economical, greener driving.

Sustainable materials

Sustainable hemp technical fabrics have been used as the primary constituent in the high quality “A” class composite body panels and spoiler. The renewable hemp has exceptional material properties that make for a very strong fibre. Historically hemp has been used in the manufacture of rope, illustrating the great strength of the material. The hemp fibres have also been used in the manufacture of the lightweight Lotus designed seats. An additional benefit of using hemp is that it is a natural resource that requires relatively low energy to manufacture and absorbs CO2 whilst growing as a plant through natural photosynthesis. This hemp material is used with a polyester resin to form a hybrid composite, however it is hoped that a fully recyclable composite resin will be viable in the short-term future. The Eco Elise seats are upholstered in a durable yet, biodegradable woollen fabric that has been given the EU Flower certificate to exemplify its environmental credentials. This new material is ethically produced and does not use any dyes or harmful processing. In fact the colour is created from the selection of sheep breeds used to produce the wool for the yarn, which increases the natural feel of the wool and reduces the processing of the cloth. Sisal is a renewable crop that, like hemp, is used for its strong material properties. Sisal has been used for the carpets in the Eco Elise, as it is a tough, abrasion resistant material. The use of these materials illustrates the capability at Lotus of utilising new, advanced materials and the flexibility of the manufacturing facilities.

Cleaner manufacturing processes

Whilst improving the green credentials of the Lotus production facilities, the Lotus Paint Facility, in partnership with Du Pont has developed a totally water-based paint system. This paint solution includes primer, colour coat and lacquer, and it is the first time that it has been possible to hand spray a water based “A” class production paint finish. In using this progressive water based technology, Lotus is able to achieve impressive savings in energy consumption due to the low cure temperature this paint requires. An additional benefit of this paint system is the reduction in emissions of solvents, all of which contribute to substantial cost savings for Lotus. This is a result of the unique collaboration with Du Pont in pushing forward low-volume paint spraying technology. This technology is anticipated to be available in production cars in the near future.

Renewable energy generation

The hemp hard top on the Eco Elise has two flexible solar panels neatly embedded in the roof, contributing power to the electrical systems and saving energy that would be drained from the engine. The solar panels have been integrated into the hard top to illustrate the feasibility of applying this technology. This application shows the installation of solar panels into a composite “A” class panel with a double curvature. Using this technology on a greater number of panels would make it possible to provide more power, especially on a larger vehicle.

Reduction in carbon miles

The hemp fibres have been farmed in East Anglia, thus reducing the carbon miles incurred in the production of this Elise. Lotus Manufacturing has component manufacturing facilities and a paint facility at its headquarters in Hethel, Norfolk, with another manufacturing site a short distance away in Norwich. The company operates a carefully managed logistics system operating between sites to improve efficiency, reduce costs and carbon miles. This is a Kanban driven barcode system that has been adopted by key suppliers. The process also uses packaging that is recycled many times over to eliminate waste.

Efficient driving techniques

Lotus cars have red shift lights to help drivers extract the maximum performance from the engine. However for the Eco Elise, Lotus designed software has been developed to assist drivers in maximising the fuel efficiency of the engine. A green gear shift display has been integrated into the instrument panel to ensure that gears are changed at the optimum point to reduce emissions and save fuel.

Weight reduction

"Performance through light weight" is so synonymous with Lotus. The reduction in mass improves the handling and braking performance and also reduces the effort required to accelerate the car. The weight reduction philosophy has even extended to the audio system with an exceptionally lightweight stereo and speaker system from Alpine saving 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs). The system uses MP3/ iPod technology in a sleek modern design. The Eco Elise uses special lightweight wheels that reduce the unsprung mass and contribute a weight saving of approximately 15.8 kg (34.8 lbs) over the already super light Elise wheels. The weight saving programme for the Eco Elise has resulted in a total saving of around 32 kg (70.5 lbs) over the feather light Elise S, which reduces the fuel required to drive the car.

Related Articles

Add comment

subscribe to comments
comment rules Add comment

Comments (4)

PotatoEater PotatoEater
A tarted-up go-kart made even lighter when they threw out any degree of intelligence.
Jul 11th, 2008 10:21am
0 0
Joe_Limon Joe_Limon
oooh a green light. It's funny because I know what it does yet it still remains humorous that a little light will help reduce whatever bad stuff this car might emit (aside from smug emissions)
Jul 11th, 2008 1:23am
0 0
jasb jasb
A car with hemp panels? Why am now I thinking of Cheech and Chong??
Jul 10th, 2008 9:14pm
0 0
janobr janobr
any sports car: 8.9 km/l in the city and 15.4 km/h on the road. i can only assume u ment 15.4 km/l :)
Jul 10th, 2008 9:11pm
0 0