UK based automotive engineering consultancy Lotus Engineering has been commissioned by the Air Resources Board of California to undertake the second stage of a study investigating efficient, lightweight vehicles manufactured using lighter, stronger materials.

Lotus will conduct a detailed structural design and analysis of the prototype vehicle from an earlier study to demonstrate it meets the crashworthiness and safety requirements for vehicles sold in the USA.

The study will be led by Lotus Engineering’s Michigan, USA, office and is scheduled for completion in April 2011. The vehicle design will use a mixture of materials, including aluminium, magnesium, composites, high strength lightweight steel and plastics.

Lightweight cars

The first part of the study, which was completed by Lotus Engineering in April this year and released by the International Council on Clean Transportation in California, recognised that a reduction in vehicle mass of 38% can be achieved for medium volume vehicles (around 50 000 units a year) with just an increase in 3% in vehicle cost and giving a 23% reduction in fuel consumption.

Lightweight vehicles have additional benefits in terms of performance, agility and cornering, (the lighter the car, the less power it needs to propel it along the road for the same performance as a heavier car).


Lotus Engineering is one of two operating divisions of Lotus Cars Ltd. The other is Lotus Cars. The group has facilities in the USA, Malaysia, and China, and offices in Germany and Japan.

Lotus Cars builds high performance sports cars, including the Lotus Elise, the Exige, and the latest model, the Lotus Evora.