Lotus is about to start writing a new chapter in its long history, and the plot could include a renewed focus on racing. It unveiled a futuristic concept called E-R9 that explores what an endurance race car might look like in 2030.
Developed by Lotus Engineering, the E-R9 is a digital design study that exists only in computer-generated renderings (shown above). It's finished in black and gold, a color scheme chosen as a tribute to the British company's past race cars, and it's equipped with a stunningly advanced suite of active aerodynamic add-ons.
Its morphing body panels can be controlled automatically or manually, depending on the situation. On long straights, they flatten out to reduce drag. When a corner approaches, they generate more downforce. The vertical control surfaces on the back end of the triangle-shaped body adjust themselves as-needed to allow the car to pivot around a turn. "The result is a racer that’s partly driven like a car and partly flown like a fighter jet," Lotus promised.
Fittingly, the driver sits in a fighter jet-like cockpit with a wrap-around windshield that provides excellent visibility. Photos of the cockpit haven't been released, however, but it's likely as science fiction-esque as the exterior design.
Power for the E-R9 comes from a fully electric drivetrain that assigns each wheel its own motor. It's an evolution of the system fitted to the Evija, the first production-bound electric Lotus. Details like range, horsepower, torque and acceleration aren't available, but the firm hinted that its racer uses a battery pack built with a mixed-cell chemistry. Interestingly, it also pointed out the battery can theoretically be swapped out during pit stops, which solves the issue of pausing the race — or losing precious seconds — while the driver waits for the pack to take a charge.
Many of the features showcased by the E-R9 are not in production, but Lotus says that could soon change.
"The Lotus E-R9 incorporates technologies which we fully expect to develop and be practical. Lotus has an amazing history of developing unique solutions, and we’ve done it many times in motorsport and with our road cars," said Lotus chief aerodynamicist Richard Hill in a statement. While that's not a confirmation that Lotus will send the E-R9 to the track in 2030, it's a strong signal that the company wants to continue racing for decades to come.
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