Lotus’ Experience With AWD Stretches Back 50 Years, So They Know What They’re Doing On The Evija
Lotus, the legendary race car manufacturer turned sports car maker, unveiled the Evija earlier this year, its first all-electric car and, at the same time, its first hypercar and first AWD road-going model. The luscious beast features four electric motors, one behind each wheel, combining for a mind-boggling (and Pininfarina-beating) output of 1,971 horsepower, making it the fastest British hypercar. While a first in many aspects, it’s actually not the first Lotus where the power reaches all four wheels.
When the Evija was unveiled, showcasing Chinese giant Geely’s clear intention to revive the brand and make it more profitable than ever, most of the automotive world took a step back in awe but not everybody was as impressed by the $2.3 million car that will be built in a limited run of 130 units. We were among the skeptics, questioning whether or not the Evija is a clever way for Lotus to increase its revenue by building something it has never built before. We’ve also questioned the sudden move from ICE-powered cars to EVs without prior introduction of any hybrid model. But one area where Lotus does have some past experience is that of four-wheel-driven cars.
Back in the ’60s, when teams were racing on track to win races and off-track to build the cars capable to win those races, Lotus thought it could come up with a more maneuverable car than everybody else and that’s when the idea of having a system that would dispatch power to all four wheels instead of just two emerged. Sure, it’s nothing like the AWD technology on the Evija but, at least, Lotus can say it did build such cars in its storied past.
You can’t buy much for a dollar these days, but Renault has amazingly proved otherwise. The automaker just purchased a 90-percent stake in the Lotus Formula One race team for a mere £1, or roughly $1.50.
The Lotus F1 team’s former owners, Genii Capital and Gravity Motorsports continue to hold the other 10 percent stake. However, in order for Genii to sell its majority stake in the team, it had to purchases 6,744,444 shares from Whiterock Allicance Ltd., which then allowed the company to give £98.2 million of shareholder loans to Lotus.
The business behind the purchasing is rather complicated, but will allow the Lotus F1 team to continue to operate thanks to the investments and debt relief that came with the acquisition. Lotus’ F1 team had long been searching for an investor that would help pay off its debts and allow for continued operation.
It seems Lotus lucked up with Renault coming in. The automaker has four F1 drivers’ titles under its belt, thanks to drivers Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso.
It will be interesting to see how the Lotus F1 team does this upcoming season. Stay tuned to TopSpeed for future news.
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Last year’s FIA World Endurance Championship was a disappointing venture for the German racing team Kodewa and its Lotus race cars, as both of its LMP2 cars were seized following financial issues. Even after that embarrassing moment, they aren’t willing to give up just yet. In fact, Colin Kolles and his crew were brave enough to step up to the LMP1 class after spending two seasons in the lower LMP2 tier.
Things didn’t go as planned so far, with a late engine switch resulting in delays that caused the team to miss the first two rounds of the season and withdraw from the 24 Hours of Le Mans race that’s set to start on June 14th, 2014. Thankfully, Kodewa solved its issues and the Lotus T129 traveled to the Circuit de la Sarthe to meet its fans, but it will not participate in the race.
Since we’re talking about a race car, the full details are under wraps, but we do know that the Lotus T129 will fight its way through the LMP1-L class, which is reserved to prototypes not using hybrid technology, with help from a twin-turbo, V-6 engine developed by AER. The new unit replaces an Audi-sourced, naturally aspirated V-8.
The new race car will begin testing shortly after this weekend’s race and debut at the 6 Hours of Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas on September 20, 2014. Opposition in the LMP1-L class will come from two Toyota-powered racers operated by Rebellion Racing. The Lotus T129 will be driven by Christijan Albers, Pierre Kaffer and Christophe Bouchut.
Click past the jump to read more about the 2014 Lotus T129 LMP1.
Recently, we haven’t had much good to say about Lotus and trust us, that is not by choice. We actually love Lotus and everything it once stood for in the performance car world. Unfortunately, it has undergone some serious changes and the CEO that it had decided to abandon what we all loved about Lotus.
In addition to the woes that Lotus underwent on the retail car front, it also underwent similar struggles on the racing front. Due to funding issues, its engines fell drastically behind the competition and its newly-signed-up partners all abandoned ship. It’s only two remaining partners ended up finishing dead last in May.
Part of the problem was that due to funding issues, Lotus entered its revised engine plans for approval by INDYCAR too late and it was stuck running its original engines. Well, it looks like the downpour of bad news is starting to dry up for Lotus, as Lotus’ INDYCAR manager, Oliver Picquenot, was quoted saying "Lotus has been working with outside engineering firms, in conjunction with Mr. John Judd and his enterprise.”
This obviously means that INDYCAR has finally given Lotus its much-needed permission to upgrade its engine via its engineering partner Engine Developments Ltd. This should give lotus the chance to at least close the INDYCAR-estimate 2.5 percent gap between its engines and everyone else’s, and Lotus is saying that it expects huge improvements.
So let’s hope for the best here and see if Lotus can make some money off of racing, or at least garner a little interest via finishing better than dead last to help calm its rocky seas.
Just an update, resigned Caterham Managing Director, Ansar Ali, is still a free agent and we already see a good fit between him and Lotus. So we’ll continue to monitor that situation, as well as Lotus’ INDYCAR improvements, as it tries to dig itself out of the hole a certain “someone” put them in…
There are two things that Caterham shares with Lotus. The first is that they both are U.K.-based companies and the second is that they both had Ansar Ali as an executive in the company. Short of that, the two companies have stark differences. The biggest difference being that Caterham stayed focused on its racecar-building division, then slowly started working itself toward street cars, thus keeping it profitable. Lotus, on the other end of the spectrum, has been trigger happy lately and has lost millions of dollars.
Well, the man given a lion’s share of the credit for Caterhams’s success, Ansar Ali, has stepped down from his post as Managing Director of the successful company. The resignation is certainly not forced, as Caterham chairman, Tony Fernandes, poured a heavy helping of praise over top of Ali as he departed and this can only point to the fact that Ali is leaving for another job, a la the former Audi CEO bolting for Infiniti.
On paper, the destination is obviously Lotus. Do the math, it is a struggling company, much like Caterham was prior to Ali taking the reins, it lacks a CEO since Dany Bahar’s termination, and there is already a history between Ali and Lotus. Add in the fact that Ali is already in the U.K., where Lotus is based, and you come up with a perfect match.
If Ali is heading to Lotus, don’t expect an immediate announcement, especially given the rumors of Bahar suing Lotus. Lotus would be wise to bring Ali on as a special consultant for a few months until the Bahar storm settles down.
We’ll keep an eye on where Ali lands and let you know as soon as we hear anything.
As always, the Grand Prix of Monaco provided a fairly spectacular showing, likely one of the few in this year’s F1 series. As most would expect, Circuit de Monaco lap-time record holder and five-time winner, Michael Schumacher took the pole position, but officials forced him back five grid positions after he caused a collision during qualifying. With the technical nature of Monaco, that pole position is very important and Schumacher’s penalty was an ominous sign that this would not be a good race, as he retired due to fuel issues 63 laps in.
Schumacher’s penalty propelled Red Bull’s Mark Webber into the pole position. Webber held onto that pole position, despite a lead change during a pit stop, and took home the checkered flag on a rain-coated Circuit de Monaco. As we said in our preview of the 2012 Grand Prix of Monaco, this race had some serious overall points influence, as the leaders were only separated by a few points each.
This victory for Webber places propels him up to a second place tie with Sebastian Vettel at 73 points and puts Fernando Alonso, who finished third, in the points lead at 76. An impressive run by Nico Rosberg placed him in second, just behind Webber, proving that his wide margin of victory in China was not just a one-time deal. This superb finish by Rosberg jumps him up two slots to fifth place overall.
From the looks of it, this season is shaping up to be a rather close points race with a few new faces near the top. Unfortunately, the leader board, for the most part, looks identical to the 2011 and 2010 seasons. The lack of parody in F1 has really been its Achilles heel in recent history. An overall points victory by Nico Rosberg would certainly be a push in the right direction for F1, so we’ll keep a close eye on his performance.
Click past the jump to see the complete placement board for the 2012 Grand Prix of Monaco and the overall points standings.
Rarely is something both the slowest and the hardest at the same time, but that all goes out the window when you’re talking about the Grand Prix at Monaco. For the majority of the F1 season, the drivers get to open up their cars a good bit. At Monaco, those chances to go wide open are limited to about three, as there are only a three extended straightaways on the track.
Besides those three straights, drivers get to deal with a plethora of intense twists and blind turns that require great care to negotiate correctly. These tight turns all amount to Monaco being the lowest average speed course on the F1 circuit, and arguably the hardest one on the circuit.
Well, the 70th running of this ultra-technical road course is due to start on May 27, 2012 and we’re going to provide a quick preview of what’s to come.
Click past the jump to read all about the Grand Prix at Monaco
Group Lotus has announced the start of one of the world’s most elite clubs – the Lotus Club GT. This special club was created to bring together people with a passion for Lotus and motorsport for a racing driver program that is unique, unforgiving, and unforgettable.
All you need to enter this amazing club is to be the owner of one of Lotus’s premium race-bred models – the Evora GT4 and Evora Enduro with club specification. Club events come courtesy of the marque’s professional works drivers and the Lotus F1 Team. Club GT will ensure members get the most from their cars and from themselves, and become legends in their own lifetime.
The club was officially inaugurated at this week’s Autosport International Show at the Birmingham NEC that started on January 12, 2012. The perfect place to enjoy bucket seats, carbon-fiber and the smell of burnt rubber.
FifthGear went to the Assen TT circuit in the Netherlands and put together two of the most incredible sports cars to date - the Lotus Evora S and the Porsche Carrera S - for a little one on one action.
The Lotus Evora S is powered by a supercharged Toyota-sourced 3.5-liter V6 engine that delivers a total of 350 HP and more than 300 lb-ft of torque. This means a sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds and a top speed in excess of 172mph. On the other hand, the Porsche Carrera S is powered by a 3.8-liter power with an output of 385 HP and a top speed of 186 mph.
At first glance, the Carrera S seems to have a slight advantage, but who will stand up and fight against all odds? Watch the video to find out!
Lotus has been a hot topic in the news ever since their astounding resurgence into the sports-car world. The company has decided to move its racing ambitions further along as it has unveiled the Evora Enduro GT Concept car at the 2011 Geneva Auto Show. It was interesting to learn that last year the company had struck a deal with Renault to back its racing team and help with development. Lotus joining F1 racing may be more than a few years off, but this company clearly has big plans. After being rather lethargic during the 1990’s and almost fading away into the night with the Esprit dying out – the company has made drastic changes behind its fearless new leader and is poised to offer several new models within the coming years. With such an emphasis on road-going performance, it was only a matter of time before a racing car was developed.
More details on the Lotus Evora Enduro GT Concept after the jump.
This year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance will be an exciting time for Lotus. Not only will they be making their U.S. debuts of the Lotus Evora Cup GT4 and 2011 Lotus Elise SC RGB Edition, but they will also be making the world debut of the Lotus 125 "Ultimate Consumer Track and Race Car."
The Lotus 125 is basically a stripped out roadster that will provide racing fans with a lightweight race car for private circuit racing. No details have been released for the race car as of yet and more than likely will not be released until the actual debut. The only thing Lotus has to say on the matter is that the Lotus 125 "is being engineered and developed to provide its select few owners the absolute ultimate in a track driving and racing experience."
The first car to make its North American debut is the Lotus Evora Cup GT4. The Evora Cup is powered by a race spec 4.0 Liter V8 that produces 400hp. The suspension and brakes have been upgraded to a set of adjustable racing dampers and a pair of six piston front brake calipers to handle the added power. The race car also weighs in at about 400lbs less than the standard road car to make its time on the track that much more invigorating.
The second North American debut lies with the 2011 Lotus Elise SC RGB Edition. This Elise is powered by a supercharged 1.8 liter engine that develops a total of 217 hp and rocks the 0 to 60 mph sprint in 4.3 seconds.
Stay tuned on August 11-15th, 2010 for further details on these sensational debuts. We’ll keep you posted!
Idle for what has been a pretty long time, Lotus is finally waking up from its hiatus from auto racing with 2010 becoming a year where the brand makes a return to its racing roots.
We’ve known for quite some time now that Lotus has returned to Formula One. What we didn’t know was that it’s not the only racing series the brand is going back to.
Lotus officially announced that its returning to the IndyCar series in 2010 with partnerships already lined up with Cosworth and KV Racing. It has already been reported a while back that Lotus and Cosworth have joined forces to begin producing both road and race cars together. And now that KV Racing has jumped on board, all signs are pointing towards Lotus returning to the IndyCar series grid for the first time in forever. Really, it’s been that long.
For those of you – and we know there are a lot out there – that aren’t familiar with Lotus stamping its worth in IndyCar, it’s worth pointing out that the brand has had a decorated history in open-wheel racing, all the way back to the 60’s. As a matter of fact, one of the greatest drivers of that era – Jim Clark – won the 1965 Indy 500 while driving a Lotus Type 38 while also finishing second in the same race two years before in 1963.
As for the reinvented Lotus race car, you can expect to see its debut at St. Petersburg, Florida with former F1 driver Takuma Sato sitting behind the wheel of the car.
Press Release after the jump
Like almost all Lotus built vehicles, the new Evora is going racing. From their initial design stages, the lightweight English automaker intended for the Evora to be competitive on the track as well as a road going super car, so when Lotus released the Evora 124 endurance race car it was only the next logical step for Colin Chapman’s car company. The Endurance racing Evora maintains the same lines and body panels as the road car with the addition of a ground effects kit that gets the Evora to stick to the racing surface.
In order to make the Evora even more competitive, the mid mounted Toyota V6 has been upgraded from the standard 280 HP to a tire shredding 400 HP in unrestricted trim, while the meticulous design team has managed to shed another 400 pounds from the already lightweight sports car. Lotus has also found room for a six speed sequential gearbox for lightning fast shifts, a full roll cage for safety as well as the obligatory fuel cell and fire extinguisher system. Of course what race car would be complete with a GT spec rear wing made from carbon fiber to compliment the ground effects kit made up of the rear diffuser and front splitter.
Keeping the car on track is a set of 18 inch rims wrapped in Pirelli racing slicks and a set of AP Racing 6 piston calipers underneath, while the suspension has been redesigned for increased adjustability. According to Luke Bennett, Director of Lotus Cars Limited, “Motorsport has been in our blood ever since our founder, Colin Chapman, built the first Lotus back in 1948. We are proud of our motorsport history, which includes victories in Formula One, Le Mans, saloon car, rally car and sportscar racing around the world; more recently, we won the British GT3 Championship in 2006 with the Lotus Exige. The Lotus Evora Type 124 Endurance Racecar is from the same unique stable and we expect it to be a competitive racecar when we enter various endurance races next year.” You can expect to see the new Lotus Evora 124 competing at 24 hour endurance races at the Nürburgring Nordschleife, Silverstone and even in Dubai.
Press release after the jump.
It’s sometimes tough for a car guy to convince his wife that a European vacation is the perfect couple’s getaway. She may have thought Italy was romantic, but not if you spend the whole time in Maranello; and no matter what you tell her, she still doesn’t it believe when you tell her, "Germany is for lovers." So here’s the newest idea: costal England. While she’s shopping for trinkets at little cottage shops on the east coast, you can sneak away to Lotus’ revamped driving school.
Lotus has revamped its test track located at an abandoned U.S. airbase in the town of Hethel. The track 2.25 miles in total with plenty of curves (named after famous racers like Ayrton Senna and Graham Hill) and the obligatory long straightaway. But what’s really cool is the opportunity to learn advanced driving techniques on instructor cars like the Elise S, Elise R and Exige S.
There are four levels of driver training: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum, with the last two taking a full day’s worth of lessons. It ranges in price from £299 to £1299 (about $450 to $1960 at current rates). So, what you’ll learn Lotus’ school depends on the depth of your wallet and how long your wife really believes you are out on a countryside walk.
If this seems like a lot of work for a few lessons, Lotus already has an established driving school for its American arm in Nevada.
Press release after the jump.