The Lotus Powered Proton Plug-In Electric Hybrid

In a remarkably interesting move, the Malaysian car maker Proton have announce that they will be showing a plug-in electric vehicle with a drivetrain developed in-house at Lotus Engineering. The Italdesign 4 door Proton PHEV will be interesting to see however the real news here is the hybrid electric drivetrain developed by Lotus. This fully functioning hybrid vehicle platform is more than a little likely to show up in the Lotus product line sooner rather than later with the most likely offering being a plug-in hybrid Elise as early as late-2010/early-2011. This would clearly explain the shock announcement by Tesla Motors recently that they would stop producing their only car, the Lotus Elise based Tesla Roadster, in 2011 as it is likely that Lotus wouldn’t want to risk cannibalizing their own PHEV sales.

Could this be the first inkling of a Lotus Elise Plug-In Electric Hybrid? It currently looks very much like it, if you have a look at the images of the 2011 Lotus Elise below you’ll notice they have increased the height of the front of the car, they would need to do this in order to fit the additional elements of the hybrid drivetrain (take a look at the picture above and compare the two) with the 1.2 litre generator fitting in the back of the car in much the same way as the current model Elise. Having elements of the hybrid drivetrain at both the front and back of the car would greatly assist in even weight distribution, Lotus is notorious for developing some of the best handling cars on the world market so it is safe to assume they would go to great lengths to achieve this with an in house developed hybrid.

Let’s cross our fingers and hope for the announcement.

Lotus Press Release

The PROTON Concept car, to be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show, showcases an advanced series hybrid drivetrain, designed and developed by Lotus Engineering.

Lotus Engineering, the world-renowned automotive consultancy division of Lotus Cars Limited today announces its latest series hybrid vehicle technology application in the PROTON Concept, which will be unveiled at the 80th International Geneva Motor Show. The complete hybrid drivetrain in the PROTON Concept city car has been developed by Lotus Engineering and it includes the Lotus Range Extender engine, designed specifically for series hybrid vehicles.

The PROTON Concept, a plug-in series hybrid city car, has been styled by Italdesign and will be unveiled on the Italdesign stand at the Geneva Motor Show. Lotus Engineering has designed and integrated the complete drivetrain, including the electrical drive system with single-speed transmission, which delivers low emissions, optimised performance and acceptable electric-only operating range for city use. For longer journeys, when the battery charge level falls, the 3 cylinder, 1.2 litre Lotus Range Extender engine is used to replenish the charge in the battery and provide electrical power for the drive motors. The battery can also be recharged via an AC mains domestic outlet to achieve initial electric-only operation.

Dr Robert Hentschel, Director of Lotus Engineering said: “The hybrid drivetrain of the PROTON Concept is another example of Lotus Engineering’s expertise in electrical and electronic systems and efficient performance engines. The high efficiency Lotus Range Extender engine, which we unveiled to great acclaim at the IAA Frankfurt Motor Show last year is perfectly suited for the advanced series hybrid we have created for the PROTON Concept city car.  It is an exciting example of the diverse range of highly efficient total propulsion systems that Lotus Engineering continues to develop for its partners and clients.”

PROTON Holdings Berhad Group Managing Director, Dato’ Haji Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohd Tahir said, “Our collaboration with Lotus and Italdesign on progressive technology and design will further propel our competitiveness in the world market. Through this association, we strive to acquire and jointly develop new knowledge, skills and technologies that will ultimately benefit our customers.”

Gallery Below – The 2011 Lotus Elise


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