The United States' most populous state -- California -- has given $2 million to Lotus Engineering. The automotive engineering division intends to live up to its Lotus name by continuing a study of lightweight construction materials for future consumer vehicles.
Findings from the first part of the study have already been released by the International Council on Clean Transportation. Thanks to Lotus R&D, the study concluded that cutting down on overall mass by 38 percent is achievable for production vehicles with a three-percent jump in cost, assuming production volume is around 50,000 units per year. The three-percent cost increase and 38-percent drop in mass would net a 23-percent reduction in average fuel economy and save on emissions.
The initial study had an especially strong focus on the automotive body and found propitious use of aluminum, magnesium, and composite materials yielded favorable results, of course. Saving weight is beneficial for both efficiency and driving dynamics but the next step is to ensure vehicular integrity will comply with crash and safety regulations, and Lotus will be working with its lightened Toyota Venza prototype again.
Interestingly enough, the $2 million study will be conducted in Automobile's home state of Michigan, where Lotus operates engineering offices in Ann Arbor and Southfield. The new study is slated for completion in April 2011 and will continue looking into the application of the aforementioned construction materials, along with high-strength lightweight steel and plastics.