Lotus Engineering has concluded that on average a vehicles mass can be improved by 38 per cent at only three per cent cost - which in layman’s terms means less is only a little more.
Lotus Engineering is the backbone of the Lotus operation with its road-going achievements merely acting as a rolling resume of what the firm is capable of.
Dr Robert Hentschel, Director of Lotus Engineering said: “Lighter vehicles are cleaner and more efficient. That philosophy has always been core to Lotus’ approach to vehicle engineering and is now more relevant than ever.”
In its latest study to develop a commercially viable mass reduction strategy for mainstream vehicles, Lotus Engineering focussed on the use of lightweight materials and efficient design to yield substantial improvements in efficiency.
As a case study, Lotus Engineering managed the aforementioned 38 per cent reduction in weight, excluding the powertrain, with a benchmark Toyota Venza by using engineering techniques and technologies viable for mainstream production programmes by 2020.
After analysing the body of the Toyota Venza which is made from 100 per cent steel, Lotus Engineers suggest using a combination of aluminium, magnesium, composites and high-strength steel to reduce its heft from 382kg to 221kg.
The results are much the same for the exterior panels, chassis and suspension, with Lotus Engineers getting creative to remove weight from other sections of the car such as the electrical system - suggesting the use of wireless technologies to replace wiring.
Without modifying the powertrain, the end result of this thorough analysis is a substantial 23 per cent improvement in fuel economy.
But fuel economy is just the politically-correct side effect of weight reduction, for the more performance inclined individual, the Scuderia and Superleggera philosophy could very well find its way into mainstream motoring, opening a new chapter in affordable performance.