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Lotus, the iconic British automaker that helped Tesla Motors and Chrysler develop their electric cars, is building a high-performance battery-powered sports car of its own and says we could see a prototype in March.

The company says the as-yet-unnamed car will be a range-extended EV that, like the Chevrolet Volt and Fisker Karma, uses an internal combustion engine to recharge the battery as it approaches depletion. Such a car would be squarely aimed at at the Tesla Roadster and Dodge EV, two cars that draw much of their automotive DNA from the Lotus bloodline.

"Don't be surprised to see an electric Lotus shortly," Lotus boss Michael Kimberly tells the Financial Times. "We are working on the technologies that will go behind it."

Most of the major automakers are developing battery-electric vehicles, but they tend to be runabouts like the Mitsubishi iMiEV or compacts like the Mini-E. Lotus, which is renowned for building cars with superlative handling, joins Tesla, Fisker Automotive and the German tuning-house Ruf in developing an electric car built solely for speed. The project further cements its reputation as a green-tech leader.

Kimberly didn't offer any details on the range-extended electric drivetrain beyond saying it will deliver 300 to 400 miles on a tank of gas. It's a safe bet the car will use a lithium-ion battery pack like the Volt and Karma, which promise an all-electric range of 40 and 50 miles, respectively. Kimberly says the electric Lotus "will become one of the showcases for the world of what you can do with electric vehicle technology."

Lotus is working with "a major automotive manufacturer" to line up a range extender — i.e., an engine — and other components, Kimberly says. Motor Trend thinks Lotus is looking to General Motors for help, arguing that the company has a similar drivetrain for the Volt and is providing engines for the Fisker Karma. But Toyota is a more-likely partner, given that it already provides Lotus with engines for the Elise and forthcoming Evora (pictured). Toyota also is developing a battery-electric concept vehicle that will debut at the Detroit auto show, and you can argue that no one has a better understanding of hybrid technology.

A bigger question is what the car will look like. Given that the Tesla Roadster is based on the Elise, and that Chrysler basically stuck a battery and a motor in a Europa and called it the Dodge EV, using those two models as the basis of an e-Lotus almost certainly are out. Lotus could convert an Evora with relative ease: It's a 2+2 with a mid-engine design, so there is plenty of room for a battery pack if Lotus yanks out the back seat like BMW did with the Mini-E. It's also a sleek, sexy car that would make EVs appealing to the sports-car set.

But Lotus also could develop an entirely new car. Although that's an expensive proposition that can take years — GM reportedly will spend around $1 billion and three years getting the Volt done — Lotus can easily cut corners. The Versatile Vehicle Architecture underpinning the Evora can be adjusted nine ways from Sunday with relative ease to suit a wide range of vehicles. Lotus says VVA will allow it to develop new cars in less time and at lower cost.

Whatever the case, an EV is a natural for Lotus. Beyond providing the platforms on which the Tesla and Dodge electric vehicles were built, Lotus builds the Roadster at its plant in Hethel, England, and provided technical help to Ecotricity, the British green-power company that is building an EV called the Wind Car.

Lotus, which builds about 3,000 cars a year and turned a profit of $2.9 million last year, is investing nearly $90 million in lower-emissions technology. Much of the R&D is done through the company's engineering arm, Lotus Engineering, which is working on everything from a fuel-cell taxi and hybrid limo to a two-stroke engine that burns just about anything.

Kimberly says the electric Lotus may debut at the Geneva auto show in March.
 

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What I find interesting is that Jalopnik is quoting reports from Automotive news that Chrysler's EV sports car that will be shown at NAIAS may be a 4 seater?! So here are the possibilities.......

1) Lotus is giving Chrysler a modified version of the Evora with a Hybrid powerplant that will be shared with a Lotus version (unlikely, I don't see why Lotus would give up it's brand new car)

2) Lotus is allowing Chrysler to use the VVA architecture for their EV (possible but still unlikely).

3) Lotus is stretching the Europa platform to add 2 more seats (possible but again not likely).

4) Lotus is giving Chrysler the Europa platform for it's EV (as shown in the past) and some idiot thinks because it has rear windows, it must be based on the Evora OR that is simply has rear seats (most likely)

You have to admit that it is starting to look like Lotus' "unnamed partner" may be Chrysler. UGH:eek:
 

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I'll be suprised as Electric cars are supposed to go extinct with the arrival of the Honda FCX Clarity. Currently this is more applicable then most of the current electric cars.
I dunno. I don't have a hydrogen station by me, and doubt I will any time soon. (and even further have no idea what they are gonna charge for it if a pump does show up somewhere to capture the market of the cars we don't have here) I do however have a plug and a gas station.

I don't think most of the car buying public will be at ease with the current range of battery only (even if it would work for them more than 70% of the time- there is still that "IF?" outside of their comfort zone). Having a gas backup (and having a diesel of possibly even turbine backup even better) to charge the battery would allow us to use our cars in the exact same manner we've become accustomed to. It will get us through on battery only for 90% of our commuting and if we need to go further or want to take a road trip we would still be able to use that vehicle. Our cars next to our homes are most peoples biggest invesment. Most people don't want to invest that kind of money to hav a feeling that it might not do everything they need it to do, and then need another car for those rare times. Especially since these already cost more than the average car.

Toyota already has the most popular eco car out there. I'm surprised at an extra cost option they don't offer a plug in version which still maintains it's current powertrain for backup. Instead people are doing it aftermarket on their own. It's not like financially you come out ahead with the increased cost of a hybrid anyway. For the smug and the environmental to whom cost isn't of primary concern you would think they would be glad to take their money and further promote a green stance.
 

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I dunno. I don't have a hydrogen station by me, and doubt I will any time soon. (and even further have no idea what they are gonna charge for it if a pump does show up somewhere to capture the market of the cars we don't have here) I do however have a plug and a gas station.
From what I heard, this car is only for sale in California where they have stations. I guess its a feeler, probably mainly in San Fran. I could be wrong since I don't live there and cant verify, internet gossip and all. Honda website has no posted price except for some lease promotion.
 

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From what I heard, this car is only for sale in California where they have stations. I guess its a feeler, probably mainly in San Fran. I could be wrong since I don't live there and cant verify, internet gossip and all. Honda website has no posted price except for some lease promotion.
because noone could afford a realistic price for this car - it is not going to make Honda any money (other than as a marketing tool) in the near future.

Fuel cell cars look and sound cool but are no more efficient than a current petrol/electric hybrid and you still need to find the hydrogen somewhere.
 
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