back to article Lotus details meths-drinking hybrid e-car engine

Lotus has announced details of an engine designed specifically as a range extender for hybrid e-cars. According to the Norfolk-based car maker, the three-cylinder 1.2l engine has been optimised to perform at two power generation points, developing 15kW (20bhp) at 1500rpm and 35kW (47bhp) at its maximum 3500rpm via an …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I hope this is more reliable than the 900 series engines they designed to go into the Esprit.

    LOTUS Loads Of Trouble Userley Serious

  2. Richard Porter

    Single casting

    I think you mean the inlet manifold. The exhaust manifold is very clearly bolted on.

  3. It wasnt me


    Mind you don't get Lotus Engineering mixed up with Lotus cars. The former has its hands in almost every engine development, performing testing and type approval for most manufacturers. They also do a lot of drivetrain and suspension work on contract to most car companies. The latter designs and produces some top cars. Oh, and it's 'usually serious', not 'userly serious' if you're poking them with their favourite acronym. On an aside, I had an Elise for 18 months from new; 1 'trouble' and not serious. They really are a company us brits should be proud of. Even if the cars part is a bit Malaysian of late.

  4. Steve Evans


    "cylinder block, cylinder head and exhaust manifold all part of a single casting"...

    I won't ask what those curious bolt like lumps are on the exhaust manifold attaching it to the cylinder head are then...

  5. JassMan Silver badge

    Confirmirming the first post

    It'll never work - at least not for any length of time. From general knowledge for anyone with a little education, and confirmed on wikipedia:

    "One of the drawbacks of methanol as a fuel is its corrosivity to some metals, including aluminium. Methanol, although a weak acid, attacks the oxide coating that normally protects the aluminium from corrosion:

    6 CH3OH + Al2O3 → 2 Al(OCH3)3 + 3 H2O


  6. brainwrong


    Isn't methanol corrosive to aluminium?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle


    LOTUS = Last Of The Useless Software

    oh wait - you are talking about the car company! I was thinking of the IT angle.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    Water nunuserual spellering!

    Lotus are design consultants for nearly all the world's major car makers - more than half the Toyota and GM engines are (predominantly) Lotus design.

    Oi scamps, get on yahoo. I need to talk to you about Stu [-]

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Ho ho! Trot out the 20-year-old predictable put-down that hasn't applied for ages. Elises are rock solid...

  10. Gulfie
    Thumb Up

    About time...

    ... that somebody developed a decent range-extender rather than produce these pathetic hybrids that weigh more and have a bigger overall carbon footprint. Just glad it is Lotus that is carrying the torch on this one.

    @Pete I don't thing the User is serious - USUALLY serious FFS.

    And you've clearly not driven a new Lotus - that is, anything built in the last ten years...

  11. Chris 191


    If you are going to quote a 40 year old joke at least learn to spell "usually".

  12. Adam 10
    Thumb Up

    Aluminium exhaust headers?

    I don't know much about engine construction, but aluminium EXHAUST headers, when burning PETROL? If it was burning only meth/ethanol, I wouldn't have thought it's a problem due to the cooler exhaust temperature, but aluminium is a touch unsuitable for the high temperatures of a petrol exhaust system... Tends to suffer structural problems and also burns quite nicely once you strip the oxide layer (which could happen with the expansion/contraction of an exhaust header).

    I'll be proven wrong though, Lotus do know a thing or two about car design. Good to see Lotus upholding their status as a centre of excellence for all things automotive.

  13. John Robson Silver badge

    Performance is fine, what about efficiency

    I know we're not used to kWh/gallon yet, but we should get used to it...

    Or at least come up with an elReg unit, look at a few old cars and work out their engines performance...

  14. Peter Ford


    Or not... those outputs seem pretty low for a 1.2l engine.

    Of course, Lotus always specialized in chassis and handling, and let someone else do most of their engines.

    I reckon you should get more like 80hp from that engine at 3500rpm. Probably needs a turbo too... :)

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I was wondering how long it would be before someone dug out the old 'lots of trouble usually serious' chestnut.


  16. Marvin the Martian
    IT Angle

    Lotus promptly called this engine the Domino

    Lotus left slightly puzzled by subsequent unpopularity and assumed hopelessness.

  17. ScottXJ6

    thats the inlet.....

    Thats quite clearly the inlet manifold bolted to the head, as its got a throttle body mounted on it (the blue bit).

    Dont forget this engine is probably going to packaged differently for its intended use, so dont assume thats the exhaust :)

    The honda insight thing has a similar arangement with exhaust manifold cast into the head i think? another all aluminium 3 cyl small engine. Saves heat being wasted by the engine.

    Im quite intrigued as to how you make a head/block all in one combo though, as a cast item...

  18. James Hughes 1


    Hmm. Good to see you obviously know more than Lotus Engineering, one of the best engine design companies in the world.

    Crikey, those Lotus guys, hardly a 'O' level between them, obviously.

  19. The First Dave

    @ James Hughes 1

    Well put, sir.

    So nice to see a (sort of) British company doing some good innovative work, and the vast majority of comments can say nothing more meaningful than "it will melt" - something that has been a known issue in lightweight engine design since forever, and can therefore assumed to be a standard part of every test plan.

    As for the question over power, the question should be based on fuel-consumption, not swept capacity - maybe the whole things works better if it only uses a tiny amount of fuel for each cycle?

  20. Michael C

    knowing the Kw/RPM at HP marks means nothing...

    ...unless we know how much FUEL it uses to generate that much energy.

    ...and only 47Kw? most of the EVs are running 100Kw+ motors. The Volt, a small EV, uses a 120Kw motor (peak), and apparently averages (on 8Kwh of battery over 40 miles kills that) about 200Kw total vehicle draw. Even it;s small 1.0L engive delivers 53Kw of juice.

    Now, if you told me the Volt's motor only got 22MPG for that 53Kw, and the Lotus engine got 65MPG equiv on it;s 1.2 when generating 47Kw, then that means something, especially with it being a flex fuel running on an ethanol blend.

  21. Adam 10
    Thumb Up

    @Peter Ford

    That would be true if it was a general-purpose, all-speeds Otto cycle engine... This engine is designed to run at a constant speed around half that of your 1.2l Otto's rev limit and is more likely to be an Atkinson cycle, which increases the thermal efficiency. Remember that the 80bhp of a typical 1.2l engine would be a peak output at somewhere round 6,000 RPM... and thus seldom used unless you drive everywhere in 1st or 2nd gear.

    As a car engine on its own this would probably be horrible, but when integrated into a hybrid drivetrain, the engine will produce constant power when needed, and the excess will be buffered by the battery pack. This excess will be saved for the moments you need extra power such as pulling away, joining a motorway and overtaking.

  22. tttonyyy

    Not a good combination

    Designed to also run on Methanol, yet "The engine is made entirely of aluminium"?

    Good luck with that...

  23. Anonymous Coward

    A couple of points

    First, there are numerous instances of monoblock engines with the head cast in a single piece with the block. The Offenhauser engine and the Miller engines that preceded it were made that way. They produced stupid amounts of power when supercharged. No worries about headgaskets. You could really cram them full of fuel and oxidizer. That's why they dominated Indianapolis for more than a quarter century. A real bitch to do a valve job on, though...

    Second, to all proclaiming, "Oh, noes! Not Methanol and Aluminum!". Have you considered not jumping to the conclusion that the block is untreated? Or that it just might have some sort of inert powder coating in the intake tract? Are you really convinced that you're smarter than the blokes at Lotus Engineering? If you are, then let see your prototype engine.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Having owned 3 Lotuses, I do have some experiences of there design problems

    and the best cars don't use a Lotus designed engine.

    The V8 Esprit had a lot of engine problems and the Elise S1 had some suspension problems.

    Just think if Lotus had focused on good design in the beginning,

    like Porsche, it would still be a British owned company

    I think the best Lotus is the M100 Élan, a very good everyday car, with super handling,

    just don't buy a red one, paint fades badly.

    The Elise is a very good car, but the old Europe will still give it a very good run for its money.

    It seems electric cars need about 25Kws average power per 100 miles, it depends on rolling

    resistance and air drag. Weight, within limits only affects peek power requirements.

    85% of what is put in on acceleration can be recovered on regenerative braking.

    So Lotus designing a small multi fuelled engine for a genset, makes good commercial sense,

    just hope it is reliable.

    This is the first pure electric drive hybrid you can buy, only in China at the moment $22,000 dollars, GM better watch out.

  25. Pete James

    Looks interesting

    This is a good bit of work by the company, although a few questions remain. While not incredible, it presents a good overall weight figure - but it looks like more could be shaved off with more extensive use of plastics and perhaps take a second look at using air cooling instead of liquid; less parts, less weight, better packaging, emmisions and noise will be obstacles but seeing as the company has a lot of IP in noise reduction then there is one area they could combine with the engine to make it even more attractive.

    It doesn't appear to be using AVT either, which would be a pity.

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