Automotive

Shape-shifting Lotus electric racer guns for Le Mans 2030

Shape-shifting Lotus electric ...
Lotus gives its 2030 Le Mans vision active-aerodynamic panels, a fighter jet-like cockpit and a four-wheel electric drive
Lotus gives its 2030 Le Mans vision active-aerodynamic panels, a fighter jet-like cockpit and a four-wheel electric drive
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The E-R9 pays homage to the past while looking into the future
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The E-R9 pays homage to the past while looking into the future
Lotus gives its 2030 Le Mans vision active-aerodynamic panels, a fighter jet-like cockpit and a four-wheel electric drive
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Lotus gives its 2030 Le Mans vision active-aerodynamic panels, a fighter jet-like cockpit and a four-wheel electric drive
Lotus doesn't appear interested in too much mandatory driver-assisted race tech, as the E-R9 offers driver control of torque vectoring and active aero
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Lotus doesn't appear interested in too much mandatory driver-assisted race tech, as the E-R9 offers driver control of torque vectoring and active aero
Lotus leaps forward from the Evija to the Endurance Racer 9
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Lotus leaps forward from the Evija to the Endurance Racer 9
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"A racer partly driven like a car and partly flown like a fighter jet" – that's how Lotus describes the all-new E-R9 design study. The Hethel, UK-based automaker prepares for the future of endurance racing by fast-forwarding through nine years of technological development and imagining what Le Mans might look like in 2030. The vision involves super-sleek, aircraft-inspired race cars with fast-morphing aero-optimizing body panels and high-powered Evija-derived electric drives with advanced torque vectoring.

Lotus didn't merely pick out 2030 as a nice round year in the future. The date represents the 75th anniversary of Lotus' Le Mans racing debut in 1955, when a team that included company founder Colin Chapman raced the Lotus Mark IX. The "9" in the Endurance Racer study's name pays homage to that car, as well.

More than just a visual study created by bright-eyed designers, the E-R9 came to life as a collaboration between Lotus' design and engineering teams. Involved in its conception were Richard Hill, Lotus chief aerodynamicist; Louis Kerr, Geely Group Motorsports International GT technical director and principal platform engineer for the Evija; and Russell Carr, Lotus design director.

"What we’ve tried to do is to push the boundaries of where we are technically today and extrapolate into the future," commented Richard Hill. "The Lotus E-R9 incorporates technologies which we fully expect to develop and be practical."

The E-R9 pays homage to the past while looking into the future
The E-R9 pays homage to the past while looking into the future

Those technologies start in the upcoming Evija hypercar, which provides the basis for the future race car's electric powertrain. Like the 1,973-hp (2,000-PS) hypercar, the endurance racer has four independently powered wheels and torque vectoring. The vectoring system gains next-generation driver inputs for a more human-driven racing experience that relies less on machine intervention. The powertrain also benefits from nine years of battery development.

"Battery energy density and power density are developing significantly year on year," explains Louis Kerr. "Before 2030, we’ll have mixed-cell chemistry batteries that give the best of both worlds, as well as the ability to ‘hot-swap’ batteries during pitstops."

Lotus leaps forward from the Evija to the Endurance Racer 9
Lotus leaps forward from the Evija to the Endurance Racer 9

The E-R9's real pièce de résistance and looking glass into the future is its morphing body. Located along the delta-wing section of the body profile, the transforming body panels actively change shape to precisely tune vehicle aerodynamics to the conditions of air and track. Available via both driver selection and automatic sensor control, the shape-changing panels minimize drag on the straights and maximize downforce around corners. Further enhancing performance, vertical control surfaces at the rear adjust to provide sharp directional shifts not limited by the grip of the tire contact patch – hence the fighter jet piloting comparison.

We'll have to wait until 2030 to see if endurance race cars end up looking anything like Lotus' E-R9 vision, but the seed that planted that vision will start growing much sooner. Lotus plans to begin Evija production this year.

Source: Lotus

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6 comments
paul314
It sounds like they want to get into that area of the performance envelope where any failure of the stability-enhancing systems (mechanical, driver error or other) leads to rapid disassembly.
bernieo
rapid disassembly ,love it .
anthony88
All cars have body morphing panels. Just ask any panel beater.
buzzclick
I guess it's too early to state its projected weight. The dark-ish images are just a teaser!
JeffK
paul314 - And unlike a jet fighter, there is no ejection seat and no buffer of empty air between vehicle and hard deck that can add a few precious seconds to the OODA loop. I suppose you might go airborne but it would only make the final impact that much worse.

I would like to have seen at least a digital mock up of the cockpit and instrumentation.
sally
This looks like a cross between the bluebird hydroplane and a dream chaser and I guess for very good technical reasons even if results might prove otherwise by 2030 in real life.