Prototype zero emissions supercar to be unveiled in Detroit

Richard Gotch
Market Engineering Ltd.

Christopher A. Sawyer
Lotus Cars USA Communications
For Immediate Release

A prototype 200-hp Lotus Elise, powered by two Zytek electric motors, will be unveiled at the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International Congress & Exposition in Detroit, February 24-27, 1997. The vehicle will have a power-to-weight ratio equivalent to many supercars and could enter low volume production if there is sufficient demand.

"This is a really exciting project," says Zytek director Bill Gibson. "No one has ever built a fully road-ready electric supercar before, so at this stage we can only speculate on how it will feel. The driving experience will be quite astonishing."

The Zytek electric Elise is powered by two internal, oil-cooled, brushless DC motors, individually mounted on light-weight (aluminum) single ratio Zytek gearboxes. Drive is transmitted to the wheels by equal length drive shafts. The two motors combined weigh just 57.3 pounds (26 kg) and produce a total of 200 hp (150 kW).

With instant access to maximum torque anywhere in the rev range and a total weight of just 1930 pounds (875 kg), performance is expected to be exceptional. Computer simulation predicts a 30-70 mph time of just 5 seconds -- the equal of many conventionally powered supercars.

Power will come from a 300V Nickel Cadmium battery pack, split between the previous fuel tank location and ahead of the vehicle scuttle to optimize weight distribution. The choice of Nickel Cadmium ensures that performance and "throttle" response are consistent as a steady voltage is available through the majority of the discharge cycle.

Zytek's electronic control system coordinates all power-related functions and provides regenerative braking and traction control. The company believes that the high-efficiency motor and control system together help to overcome many of the limitations currently imposed by electric vehicle propulsion batteries.

Zytek has engineered the entire conversion, including the motors, gearboxes, control electronics and cooling system. Lotus is supporting the project and will ensure that the car has the best possible ride and handling characteristics,

The running gear, bodywork and the extruded and bonded aluminum chassis are retained from the standard Elise, which is sufficiently light not to need power steering or power brakes -- both areas where additional conversion work would have been required. A future phase of development will see the addition of passenger compartment heating using heat from the motor cooling oil, which is cooled by the standard Elise radiator.

If the Zytek electric Elise does enter production, the cost of the vehicle without batteries could be similar to that of the standard car. Owners may then lease batteries at a penny- per-mile cost equivalent to buying gasoline.

"Our aim is to make Electric Vehicles desirable, not just necessary through government mandate." concludes Bill Gibson. "The Lotus Elise forms an ideal test bed for high- performance EV technology."

Other electric vehicles with powertrains engineered by Zytek include the Chrysler Intrepid ESX hybrid electric concept vehicle and a zero emissions kart for indoor circuits. In the Chrysler Intrepid ESX application, the motors are hub-mounted using a Zytek- designed integrated hub, gearbox and suspension carrier.


Maximum Power: 200 hp

Maximum Torque: 100 Nm

Weight: 1930 pounds (875 kg)

Acceleration: 30-70 mph in 5 seconds

Maximum Speed: 90 mph (electronically limited)

Driving Range: 120 miles (using the industry-standard Bosch cycle)

Recharge Time: 60 minutes to 95%