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by Brett Davis

Lotus aren’t joking when they say the Evora 414E Hybrid concept has speakers in the front and rear bumper bars that mimic the sounds of a V12 engine. Yep, technology has come as far as manufacturers creating an ‘old’ environment for us all until we can catch up and adapt to advancing technologies.

The Lotus Evora 414E is another one of those ‘hybrid vehicles’. This means it uses a conventional petrol engine to recharge an electric motor, which also powers the car, saving fuel. In the Evora 414E though, there are two electric motors – each outputting 152kW – and a very small petrol motor – 35kW, 1.2 litre, three cylinder. So it’s almost a complete electric vehicle rather than a hybrid, and it’s electric in acceleration too; that’s right maths fans, over 300kW. The Evora concept can actually be driven as a full electric vehicle at the driver’s commands too – although they say the range is only 56km. The Evora 414E can then be recharged over night using a conventional home power socket which is plugged in under the rear numberplate.

So back to those speakers under the bumper bars, then. Although they seem infantile – a bit like a child pegging a card to his push bike frame to bounce of the spokes, resembling way-cool motorbike noises (which all of us here at CA still do to our bikes by the way), the ‘integrated HALOsonic technology’ on the Evora 414E concept is actually there for safety purposes: Hybrid cars are very quiet and it becomes difficult to interpret exactly what the engine is doing via aural characteristics, and it’s almost impossible for pedestrians to hear a hybrid coming too. Lotus have designed the system which outputs soothing engine noises in harmony with your right foot, inside and outside the cabin, to help with the technology transition.

Just one element to this Evora Hybrid that shows Lotus is switched on when it comes to adapting new technologies to even newer ones. Another technology is in the gearbox, or lack of it. It’s a seven-speed paddleshift job, even though, mechanically, it’s a single speed drive. Lotus realises hybrids are removing that man and machine relationship so they’ve set up the electrics of the driveline to resemble a typical double-clutch, seven-speed gearbox. The added beauty of this is though, unlike most hybrids where the regenerative braking is cumbersome and slows the car too much, the regenerative braking is much smoother. With the fake seven-speed linked up, the regenerative braking is synchronised to slow the car progressively with each ‘down shift’.

The difference between this hybrid and your usual Prius geek machine is that firstly, this is a Lotus and Lotus aren’t about to rush into slapping a badge on something that’s not all that exciting. Secondly, it’s more an electric car than a fusion of plenty of petrol power with a hint of electricity.

0-100km/h figures of four seconds dead and handling characteristics that are on par with the original, petrol-powered Evora, supposedly make the 414E hybrid a car not just for the future, but a car that could pave the way for present technologies to follow. And it proves environmentally-friendly cars don’t have to be so boring.

Although the package is still a concept at this stage, the Lotus team has proved what the company is capable of producing. Of course, there is no substitute for real-world testing, so until something is released to the public, we’ll have to wait and see how it actually shapes up.




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