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back to article UK sportscar makers announce electric models

British sports car makers Lotus and Ginetta have both announced they are to build road-going electric cars. As announcements go, we reckon there are worse ways to start a new year. The Lotus news isn't that much of shock as the Hethel-based outfit already makes the rolling chassis for the Tesla Roadster – in effect a 'leccy …

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Yawn.

'nough said.

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Anonymous Coward

extended range

How long before Top Gear notice this and explain that this means you'll have to push it even further back to the garage

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Anonymous Coward

Nice

Unless they are next-gen Li-ion batteries (as in Zero Motorcycles) I think the batteries will screw the handling. Never mind the "refuel" time (and not even a next-gen battery can help there). My money is of hydrogen systems until some designs standardised batteries that you can simply hot-swap at charging stations.

Still - good on Lotus, just a shame they are not British |(they're Malaysian).

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Dan
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And?

And these are environmentally-friendly how, exactly? Simply moving the burning of fossil fuels from the car to the power-station doesn't really count. Lotus' own suggestion of trifuels makes far more practical and ecological sense, not to mention that it requires little or no modification to the cars and results in a higher octane (and hence better performance).

Oh, I forgot, it doesn't result in a business model worth quadrazillions, so the big firms aren't interested.

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Anonymous Coward

Eh?

"No doubt Lotus will be keen to erase memories of one if its Elises getting blown into the weeds by a Tesla Roadster during the Top Gear drag race."

Why would they be keen to erase memories of a £90K car defeating a £22K car? Especially since they built both of them. Bear in mind that the only significant difference between the two cars is the power plant, neither of which are built by Lotus. So it's presumably no skin of their collective nose if the Tesla's electric motor can defeat the Elise's Toyota IC engine.

Indeed Lotus are probably quite pleased that Tesla have, in effect, done a lot of market research and R&D on their behalf and no doubt paid them handsomely into the bargain.

And who'd like to bet that the Lotus will neatly undercut the Tesla by a few quid at the dealers?

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@And

Well, it does count, because:

a) while the pollution now happens at he power station, it can be done in more efficient and less polluting ways, with possible transition to more green methods. you're bulk producing energy with the gains that can be made by doing so,

b) big power stations can have various forms of pollution controls applied to them that might not be practical on cars

c) the pollution is restricted to certain small areas and can eb dealt with mroe easily, rather than being produced everywhere.

On the hydrogen comment (made by an AC). While I see that hydrogen could be useful, I still see it as somewhat of a stopgap. it replaces one IC fuel with another. instead of burning petrol, we now burn hydrogen instead. yes it's much greener, but it fixes us to a different fuel, as we are fixed to petrol now. if we make a move to electric sooner rather than later, then it gives us the flexibility to change how we generate the electricity. we could make it from coal, gas, nuclear, hydro, hell, some big solar plant or geothermal energy. whatever.

There are issues with distributing and storing electricity, but we have similar issues with distributing and storing hydrogen (doesn't it leak through steel?).

still, it'll be interesting to see what comes out of all this.

dave

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Anonymous Coward

styling

do electric cars still need great yawning air intakes? surely it would be more effective/miles per charge/efficient to not have a big air scoop at the front of the car... just like they don't have radiators or exhaust pipes... could be wrong, but maybe its for keeping the li-on batterys cool?

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Happy

Leccie? Leccie?

Come on guys give us the Hydrogen powered model! :)

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Boffin

@David

Ever heard of transmission losses? they are actually rather signifiant to the national grid (almost 20%)

I'm more in favour of efficient micro generation. using a clean fuel such as hydrogen.

Hydrogen will leak through certain materials, maybe certain types (low grades) of steels, but that doesn't stop you from lining/painting the inside of the pipe..

what we need is piped clean fuel to the home, combined with Micro CHP plants and local storage. (by piping to the home we eliminate the need for high pressure compression which has massive energy losses.) Local storage is vital as hydrogen just cant deliver the surges that we need either in the home or on the road... (toaster and kettle for breakfast - while the iron is heating up for that work shirt? ~10KVA)

I'm a great fan of the Baxi ecogen Stirling CHP boiler and I gaurantee that I'll have one when I get my Leccie car, and can charge it overnight from mains gas (whilst the waste heat generated is heating my home!) so its not as clean as H2 but its real now!

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@AC

Firstly, I'm glad we're keeping this civil, good to have a proper discussion on the net!

secondly, yes I am aware of transmission losses, btu I'd hope that the efficiencies gained from bulk creation of electricity should overcome that. You also get the advantage that most of the environment that we humans spend a lot of time in, suffers less pollution. Central creation also deals with (as far as the consumer is concerned) your surges issue. not everyone boils the kettle at the same time, so it balances out (okay, sometimes they do, but the power companies plan for this).

Another big issue with hydrogen is that of energy density. even liquid hydrogen has a lot less hydrogen in it than petrol, which means that you'll need to burn through it faster to maintain the same power levels.

I do like the idea of local micro-generation and CHP where you've got the appropriate resources and where it makes sense, but I think for a lot of people it's not going to be that easy. Unless someone comes up with a simple one box solution which can be easily installed and make an appreciable difference.

but then, I'm no expert as to what can be done...

dave

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evora...

Oh stop moaning...

Isn't that just the prettiest sports car since the (original) Lamborghini Miura?

I want to see what the convertible will look like.

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Hydrogen

Hydrogen is only useful as a storage mechanism, it isn't a primary fuel - there are no hydrogen mines where we can get significant amounts of hydrogen gas, we have to use energy from some other source to get it out of hydrocarbons or water. So, like electricity, it just moves the problem somewhere else (which does allow it to be moved somewhere more efficient with better pollution control measures).

On the other hand if you do have some other source of plentiful green energy, you can use it to synthesize oil - see <a href=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fischer-Tropsch_process>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fischer-Tropsch_process</a>. It won't give you the nonexistent or clean exhaust that electric vehicles or burning hydrogen will, but it can be carbon neutral if you use renewable or non-fossil energy and atmospheric carbon dixide as inputs to the synthesis, and we can go on using existing long range vehicles and the existing distribution infrastructure. It's more expensive than just pumping the stuff out of the ground, of course, but it won't get more and more expensive as it gets scarcer.

(Technically, there is enough uranium to provide our energy needs at our current usage for centuries if we use it in breeder reactors, but the political problems are huge.)

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Hydrogen from where?

How will all of this hydrogen be produced? We're still waiting for a process that offers reasonable efficiency, scales well, and does not rely on hydrocarbons for feedstock.

Meanwhile, regarding the cars themselves, Lotus know better than any others how to build cars with efficient use of mass. Light cars, yet able to meet safety standards, a deft trick.; Lotus is well positioned to do this right. A 200kg battery in a 1,000kg car is way more useful than a 400kg battery in a 1,500kg car...

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Alert

@@And

Where I sit at the moment there are 3 power plants within 5 miles.

1 thermal, 1 geothermal and 1 hydro.

The thermal runs on waste from timber processing, wood grown in plantations with a relatively short turn over time so it is renewable "bio-fuel".

Total fossil fuel CO2 emissions (um suck teeth, carry 1, times 3) round about, erm, zero.

These cars would be very useful to reduce imports of fossil fuels and to replace the rapidly decreasing local production of same.

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Go

at last!

an electric car that doesn't look like sh*t! bravo!

I wonder why they're going with brushless DC motors, since the brushless AC motors have been out awhile and proven to work in high performance applications.

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Anonymous Coward

@Rick Brasche

"I wonder why they're going with brushless DC motors, since the brushless AC motors have been out awhile and proven to work in high performance applications."

It's very simple. The batteries provide DC, in order to drive AC motors you would need an inverter. An inverter would add a few problems; added weight; added volume (as in size, not noise), added heat and added losses.

The added weight and volume will adversely affect perfromance, handling and braking. Finally as anybody who has ever had to run on a big UPS for any length of time will know, an inverter can generate quite a bit of heat, firstly this heat will have to be disipated and secondly and more importanty this heat is indicative of added losses. Some of the electrical energy is converted to thermal energy, so it never makes it to the motors.

Lotus are very thorough and have no doubt concluded that any added efficiency gained from AC motors will be more than offset by the disadvantages of the inverter needed to power them.

So until somebody invents the AC battery a DC motor will be the preferred solution for the battery powered car.

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Pirate

Electric vs Hydrogen vs Cynical know-it-alls

"Simply moving the burning of fossil fuels from the car to the power-station doesn't really count."

Yes it does - I.C.Es are very inefficient at extracting the dense energy contained in oil based fuels, electric motors are much more efficient. Even with transmission losses... Can't remember where I read the figures - so I can't supply here.

"Come on guys give us the Hydrogen powered model!"

Why 'cos May said so on TG? Or cos you like the concept of inefficiency? Pure EVs are like 3 times more efficient than pure Hydrogen - and at least EVs *exist* albeit in early stages - hydrogen cars are still (water) vapour for consumers.

Don't forget that Lotus is also working with another Reg fave - Ecotricity - to power their entire Hethel production plant from wind energy. Hmmm - yes think about that... that just leaves the raw material processing to account for in terms of CO2 impact - especially if Lotus EV customers use Ecotricity too...

Jolly roger - cos pirate ships are wind powered arrrr ;-)

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