The Lotus Evija: ‘designed light in the first place’
One of the core values of the Lotus brand, and something engineered into the DNA of every new Lotus car, is the concept of lightweighting. The company’s founder Colin Chapman was famous for his obsession with removing excess, rightly stating that adding more power made you faster on a race track’s straights, but subtracting weight made you faster everywhere else.
There are two quotes attributed to Chapman which are relevant. The first is, “Instead of reducing weight it is better to design light in the first place”. The second is the delightfully blunt and factually accurate, “There’s nothing lighter than a hole”.
Lightweighting is a philosophy which Lotus is committed to integrating on the next generation of its performance cars, including the latest – the Evija all-electric hypercar. There are numerous examples of where it has been ‘designed light’, and they’re most obvious when you look at the car’s striking exterior.
Every body panel is carbon fibre, a material known for optimising light weight and strength. And when describing the car’s look, the phrase that Design Director Russell Carr always uses is ‘shrink-wrapped’ to explain how there’s nothing beyond what is absolutely necessary so there’s no excess weight. This ethos is crystal clear on the rear wheel arches which house the 21-inch rims, made from magnesium to provide the perfect balance of lightness and strength.
The pure electric powertrain has been engineered to be the lightest and most energy-dense system ever fitted to a road car. And power delivery to each driveshaft is via four exceptionally compact and extremely light single-speed, helical gear ground planetary gearboxes.
Everything you see of the Evija is attached to a one-piece motorsport-inspired carbon fibre monocoque chassis. In true Lotus fashion, it is the lightest ever tub on a road car, weighing just 129kg. And with a target lightweight spec of just 1,680kg, the Evija will be the lightest pure electric hypercar on the market.
Turning to the second Chapman quote about holes, there are plenty of elements where nothing but fresh air has been consciously included as part of the Lotus Evija’s design. Undoubtedly the most obvious example is the Venturi tunnel through each rear haunch, a key element of the car’s porosity which helps generate incredible downforce.
It’s an ethos carried over into the cabin; the ski slope-style centre console has free space behind it and it’s the same story on the passenger side of the ‘floating wing’ dashboard. Right from the start, the view of the design and engineering teams was that if nothing was needed to fill a space, having a hole was perfectly fine.
That ‘crossbeam’ style of the dashboard also ticks the box for another one of Colin Chapman’s well-known philosophies – that where possible a component should perform more than one function. The crossbeam is the dashboard, it houses the interior ventilation system and is also an integral element of the whole car’s structural integrity.
We think Colin Chapman would agree the Evija is 100% a true Lotus – a Lotus which signals the start of an exciting and eagerly anticipated new generation of cars, built to deliver outstanding performance in an electrified world. Gordon Murray, the car designer, fellow advocate of lightweighting and friend of Lotus, has referred to his latest creation, the stunning T.50, as “the last great analogue supercar.” In turn, we believe the Lotus Evija is "the first great electric hypercar".