Of all the automakers that are undergoing the transformation from internal combustion to electric propulsion, few have my interest quite like Lotus. Partly that's because I first became a car nerd after discovering the Lotus Seven. But it's also because light weight has always been a core Lotus attribute, and while electric vehicles have much to recommend them, "light" they typically are not.
This would be immaterial until relatively recently, because the small British sports car company didn't have the resources to consider a switch to electric. But in 2017, Lotus was bought by Geely, also the owner of a freshly revitalized Volvo. As is the Geely way, Lotus got some much-needed investment and has been set to work on electrification.
In April of this year, Lotus revealed that its plans now include four new platforms, three of which are entirely electric. This week, we got a glimpse into the way the company is thinking about EVs, as it released some details about its lightweight electric vehicle architecture (or "Project LEVA" in Lotus-speak). The key is a newly developed rear subframe that's far lighter than the one in the V6-powered Emira (unveiled in July as the last internal combustion engine-powered Lotus).
The rear subframe is made from die-cast aluminum and cleverly supports more than one kind of powertrain layout. There is the conventional skateboard approach, where a big slab of batteries fills the floor of the car between the axles, as seen on basically every battery EV on sale today. Lotus says in this configuration it can build 2+2s with wheelbases of at least 104.3 inches (2,650 mm), with 66.4 kWh battery packs and either a single motor drive unit with a maximum output 470 hp (350 kW) or a twin-motor drive unit with a maximum of 872 hp (650 kW).