Lotus is revealing the latest upgrades to its Hethel site, which will help drive a new era of success for Lotus Engineering, the consultancy division of the business.
The multi-million-pound investment is the latest chapter in the ongoing transformation of the Lotus company and brand. Site enhancements include the installation of numerous all-new and upgraded state-of-the-art engineering test facilities. These will be used by Lotus Engineering as it expands its portfolio of consultancy services and its client base, and will complement the Lotus Cars business as it prepares to deliver a new range of performance cars – the first of which will be unveiled next year.
Improvements include an all-new Electric Drive Unit (EDU) test cell, plus upgrades to the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) test and development cells, the Propulsion Prototype build workshop and the vehicle emissions lab.
The famous 2.2-mile Hethel test track – the scene of so much historic race and road car development since Lotus moved to the Norfolk site in 1966 – has also been upgraded.
These latest improvements are in addition to the all-new sports car factory which will be home to an all-new Lotus model starting next year, and in addition to the new assembly hall dedicated to the Lotus Evija all-electric hypercar. Both will be manufacturing new Lotus cars during 2021.
In 2020 Lotus Engineering celebrates 40 years since it was formally incorporated. The consultancy provides a comprehensive range of technical services to many of the world’s best-known automotive manufacturers and suppliers. While much of its work and list of clients remains confidential, its ‘greatest hits’ include some of the best-known and most-loved performance cars of all time such as the Lotus Cortina, the Lotus Carlton, the Lotus Sunbeam and numerous others.
Matt Windle, Executive Director, Engineering, Lotus, commented: “We see huge potential to put Lotus Engineering right at the cutting edge of automotive innovation, further building on our core competencies as well as increasing our capability in growth areas.”
He continued: “An example is electrification; the challenges around weight reduction and improved dynamics are a major factor in the quest for more efficient electric vehicles, and those link back directly to the Lotus core values. What we continue to learn on the Lotus Evija all-electric hypercar programme creates knowledge and experience which we can use to help other businesses.”
As announced in July this year, Lotus Engineering’s new home will be on the Wellesbourne campus of the University of Warwick, part of an all-new advanced technology centre for Lotus being established in the West Midlands.
The growth strategy for Lotus Engineering sees the services it offers categorised under three pillars:
– EXPERIENCE: active noise, Human Machine Interface (HMI), user interface, user experience, cockpit, infotainment, driver engagement
– PLATFORM: concepts, structures, architectures, propulsion, manufacturing
– DYNAMICS: ride and handling, lightweighting, aerodynamics, simulation, chassis systems
Further details on the improvements at Hethel are listed below.
All-new Electric Drive Unit (EDU) test cell
An all-new facility at Lotus, it allows engineers to test EV powertrains including the motor, gearbox and supporting electronics. Lotus software can communicate with the motor control system and load the powertrain as if it were in a vehicle, to test, develop and validate its performance.
Upgraded Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) test and development cells
These are used for ICE development, calibration and durability testing, and have been upgraded to enable Lotus to deliver comprehensive world-class test data to the latest international standards. Specific improvements have been made to further improve capability and future-proofing on complex test profiles, calibration requirements, high-speed data acquisition and multiple channel configurations.
Upgraded Propulsion Prototype build workshop
This workshop allows Lotus engineers to build and test new engines, transmissions and EDUs. It has been completely redesigned and re-equipped with all-new hardware and new IT systems to improve the range of services offered. Today it is a world-class and highly efficient location ensuring high-quality prototype building.
Upgraded vehicle emissions lab
New equipment has been added to allow Lotus engineers to test and validate vehicles to the latest emissions standards, not just for the UK and Europe but in all international markets.
Upgraded Hethel test track
New additions to the famous circuit include new protective trackside barriers; new CCTV cameras to enable full track visibility; new safety systems including an upgraded entrance/exit barrier control system; and improved fire protection around the circuit.