Electric Elise

DETROIT The smooth curves of a Lotus Elise are guaranteed show-stoppers. But combine them with electric-vehicle technology and you have an electric vehicle that snags the attention of even the most diehard internal combustion enthusiast.

Zytek Group Ltd.'s electric Elise features two 28.6-pound 100- horsepower direct-current brush-less motors mounted to the exist- ing frame and driving the original axles of a converted Elise. The mo- tors and their controllers are oil-cooled, and run from a 300-volt nickel-cadmium battery pack for a range of 120 miles in typical driving.

Brian Mason. a director and co-owner with Bill Gibson of United Kingdom-based Zvtek. said the electric Elise is intended to maintain Zytek's presence in the electric-vehicle development forefront. The propulsion system components are developed by Zytek. Mason expects that other electric-vehicle developers will be drawn to the technology inside the sleek Lotus package. Zytek is better known for engine-control systems, particularly Formula I systems and control svstems for Jaguar, including the XJ220, and OBD Il-compliant systems for Rolls Royce.

In electric vehicles, the company provided systems for the Chrysler Intrepid ESX project displayed at last year's North American Inter- national Auto Show. Lotus officials, attracted by the Chrysler project, asked Zytek to team with them to develop the electric Elise.

The special Elise will be available only to automotive companies interested in using the vehicle as an electric-vehicle demonstration project. Twelve to 20 of the vehicles will be built; Zytek would not reveal a price. Mason said that none of the Elise vehicles is intended for export to North American buyers.

The Elise is controlled by a micro-processor. A Siemens 167 controller oversees power utilization, controls power flow to compensate for heat buildup and current demand, and provides safety system backups.

Standard instrumentation is retained on the car, but instrument gauge indictors are relabeled in some cases. The tachometer is con- verted to a power meter. for instance, Mason said.

The nickel-cadmium battery pack consists of 1.2-volt aircraft starter cells packaged in the space normally occupied by the mid-vehicle fuel tank. The car uses regenerative braking, and because of its twin motors can provide traction control and active differential control

Automotive News March 1997?

Thanks to CitroMike