RE: How do you solve a problem like Evija

RE: How do you solve a problem like Evija

Sunday 21st July

How do you solve a problem like Evija?

Lotus's new hypercar is its biggest statement since the launch of the Elise. But is it the right one?



How is it that a British sports car manufacturer I have a lot of affection for can unveil a new hypercar with 2,000hp and mind-bending acceleration figures, and I feel unmoved by it? I don't particularly mind that the Evija derives its motive force from motors and batteries, nor that it'll cost Β£2m (I would be no more likely to buy one if it cost one-tenth of that). I suppose I feel a road car capable of clocking 186mph in half the time it takes a McLaren 720S to do the same is so utterly unnecessary.

I already think high-performance cars are becoming too fast. Drive a 720S on a British road and you'll manage three or four second bursts of acceleration at best, getting nowhere near the limit of what it can do. Machines like the Lotus Evija represent a quantum leap in road car performance at a time when they're already too fast. They move us inexorably to a point where performance cars are defined not by how fun they are to drive nor by how cohesive they feel dynamically, but by how quickly they accelerate. It's just daft.

What's particularly frustrating in the case of the Evija is that Lotus always understood better than most that speed in a straight line is not what makes a car rewarding. I look at the Evija and though I adore its styling - and though I hope a couple of hundred million quid in revenue and the brand recognition Lotus will pocket around the world helps it to produce a new Elise soon - I find myself wishing Lotus had built a lightweight electric sports car with usable performance that genuinely broke new ground.


But I know precisely why it's given us the Evija instead. The technology doesn't exist for any other sort of high-performance EV. Not right now, anyway. Where there is consistency there is truth, and for Lotus and technical partner Williams Advanced Engineering on the one hand, and Automobili Pininfarina and Rimac on the other to arrive at the same concept for the their ultra-exclusive EV hypercars - 2000hp or so, one motor per wheel, staggering performance, enormous battery pack - says to me that there actually isn't any other way.

While Lotus and Pininfarina, as well as Tesla with its forthcoming Roadster, have all announced warp-speed machines that'll do 0-62mph in two seconds, nobody has yet had a credible go at building a lighter and more affordable EV sports car with a level of performance you can actually deploy on the public highway.

Why is that? It's all to do with the limitations of current battery technology. The very first problem car engineers address when building battery-powered cars is range. That might be range in terms of day-to-day driving, or in the case of a high-performance car it might be range on circuit. Two laps of the Nurburgring on a single charge, or perhaps two full sessions during a normal track day, is probably the minimum permissible range for such a vehicle. Anything less would be close to useless.


Immediately, then, you need a vast battery pack. In the case of the Evija that's a 70kWh lump, weighing something like 500kg. Once you've added motors, heavy duty cables and the various control systems, you're looking at a powertrain weighing more than 600kg and a very chunky vehicle even before you've thought about the rolling chassis, the body, the cabin and so on. (Let's quickly acknowledge that the Evija is substantially lighter than a number of similar cars, which certainly is in keeping with the Chapman ethos. But it's still a porker.)

So how do you overcome all that weight? You give it a couple more motors, making it slightly heavier still but sending the power-to-weight ratio through the roof. Once you've decided on a high-performance electric vehicle, there is only one logical outcome. You inevitably arrive at 2,000hp. Lotus and Pininfarina both worked that out independently of one another.

Could you halve the size of the battery, remove a couple of motors and address the problem that way? Not really. Your car will be lighter by 300kg or so and with 1000hp it'll still be astonishingly fast, but it'd have a hopeless range. Particularly on circuit. Nobody would buy one. So you forget that idea and get on with the heavier battery and the four motors and the 2000hp headline figure. Besides, when you're offering that sort of performance you can charge Β£2m. Kerching.


Given the current technology on offer, Lotus' hands were tied. Or at least they were once it decided to go electric. As it is, the Evija and the Pininfarina Battista are bound by the physical limitations they face to the point of being defined by them. That's the opposite of progress. The most innovative performance cars throughout history actually overcame the limitations they were up against by deploying new techniques and pioneering new technologies.

That day is coming for the EV hypercar, but we're surely several years away from it yet. When battery technology improves and they become lighter, or when somebody cracks solid-state, there will arrive a game-changing lightweight EV hypercar that will merit comparison with cars like the McLaren F1. It will spawn affordable EV sports cars as well, but neither the Evija nor the Battista is that car.

Still, we have to start somewhere. Lotus and Pininfarina find themselves right at the bottom of the performance EV development curve, but at least they're on it. I just hope that Hethel and the rest one day come up with better ideas than simply making their electric cars faster and faster and faster.


Inspired? Search for a Lotus here

Author
Discussion

wab172uk

Original Poster:

1,355 posts

171 months

Sunday 21st July
quotequote all
The whole £1m+ Hypercar thing is becoming increasingly pointless.

Yeah, they're great engineering feats, and great looking artwork in some Billionaires very expensive garage. But I'm now like Hu'h another car purely to get the cash out of the rich.

We'll see one or 2 at some shows. You'll never see any on the road.

I've never read up on any of these new Hypercars. Just not interested anymore.

stavr0ss

31 posts

72 months

Sunday 21st July
quotequote all
“Lotus: for the multi millionaires”


Nerdherder

1,212 posts

41 months

Sunday 21st July
quotequote all
I Hate The Sound Of Music with a passion.

Anyway: I understand the thinking in the article and largely agree, but still, it is such a boring topic to delve into.

Edited by Nerdherder on Sunday 21st July 07:38

oilit

759 posts

122 months

Sunday 21st July
quotequote all
they will need a better battery cooling system than this though biglaugh


rodericb

1,709 posts

70 months

Sunday 21st July
quotequote all
It's a headliner. A halo car. They've seen that people masturbate furiously over spectacular performance figures, EV's and things which 'destroy' other things so they're jumping into the game. They just haven't rolled out the "china is coming!!!!!1" yet, which is a slightly trickier hand to play right now.

sege

202 posts

166 months

Sunday 21st July
quotequote all
Good article Dan. Seems a little uncharitable though seeing as you acknowledge the technological limitations and correctly give credit for jumping on the EV bandwagon....I mean...what else were they to do?
I'll likely never see an Evija in the carbon. I certainly won't be able to ever afford one. So its mad, incredible but ultimately meaningless performance doesn't really affect me one way of the other.
We're already past the point of cars being too fast for the roads and it had nothing to do with EVs. It will become worse in future with EV powertrains but I think things like all wheel torque vectoring and tyre tech and chassis rigidity will make a bigger overall difference to unusable performance.
And there are two other points about releasing an all new car today. 1. imo, anything that isn't all electric is a disgrace really, unless it one of these last hurrah for ITE projects like the Valkyrie or Gordon Murray's new F1. So the timing of this car meant it had to be an EV. 2. A halo car is probably the quickest way to start to leverage Geely's investment in the Lotus brand. Low volume reasonably priced sports cars do not make financial sense. Geely are not giving Lotus stacks of cash out of the kindness of their hearts. They must be looking at Lotus thinking that with the right investment they can finally turn the brand into the Ferrari (and Porsche, Lambo and nowadays McLaren) rival that it has historically aspired to be. Selling megabuck hypercars to the mega rich is the right way to do this.
Personally I would like to know that when there is no more petrol around to fuel my Elise that there will be an electric Lotus version that offers the same sort of fun and driving experience. But if the technology doesn't exist for that yet, then in the meantime it's all about staying in business for the foreseeable!
Bring on the SUV! (only make sure it is an EV also).

chickensoup

420 posts

199 months

Sunday 21st July
quotequote all
I think it is a superb statement of intent from Geely

This is lotus, so just showing a series of mock ups would look like Bahar. If they deliver this quickly they are making massive statements about the "new" Lotus

Able to deliver projects quickly (may not always have been Lotus Engineering's strong point)
and able to deliver cars with too much power

Last time lotus went up market was the Esprit, promised with a V8, delivered with a low torque 2 litre, and no money for the 4 litre V8 that a slant 4 was intended to herald

It is also a mile away from Polestar, so Lotus will not blur too much with Volvo

I hope this is a "Look what lotus can do with decent backers" statement

SOL111

627 posts

76 months

Sunday 21st July
quotequote all
Yes, they have to start from somewhere and at least they're channeling their thoughts and energy in the right direction.

It's what us engineers do I'm afraid. We don't shy away from doing things because the time isn't right or the apparent challenges too difficult. The process of doing it and possibly failing is all part/parcel of progress, growing your engineering heritage, knowledge and experience.

This one might be less than optimal but in 2 or 3 cars time it'll be cracking, precisely because of what they've gained in the process. In the same way the Elise didn't suddenly appear but is so bloody good because of an age of experience.

Kevin-sz0nv

216 posts

50 months

Sunday 21st July
quotequote all
I totally agree re driving in the real world cars are becoming way too fast. I have a 996 turbo and a 996 GT3 that are great cars the turbo is as quick as a road car needs to be and its 17 years old! I've recently bought a V10 R8 with Miltek Exhaust fettled to unleash the full R8 Plus sort of power. I hardly ever give it the full Monty as its scary quick and within seconds I am in jail speed territory and I don't say that jokingly! Luckily it's a great car at only 50% of throttle but compared to say the 996 GT3 I just don't bother flooring the throttle except in 1st and 2nd. All these new Hypercars and new battery performance cars are getting silly what use is 2000 bhp if you daren't use 500 bhp never mind 2000 worse still you could very easily end up in a situation where you don't have a license to drive it!

Edited by Kevin-sz0nv on Sunday 21st July 08:55

Jellinek

214 posts

219 months

Sunday 21st July
quotequote all
An interesting article which I think asks the question, is Evija the right strategy? This is something I’ve questioned too. However, to achieve sufficient profitability and therefore sustainability, lotus needs to sell more cars and more cars at a higher price point. Evija paves the way for a 200k Esprit (north-south ice and/or hybrid options one hopes) and the Evora replacement (east-west install). Purely electric super cars and sports cars will follow when the price point-profit numbers add up i’m sure.
Evija does not preclude an Elise replacement. On the contrary, I think Lotus would be mad not to. Whilst profit margins are single digit % in this segment, the volume sales enable many, many components used on Evora, Esprit Exige, etc to be carried over. The Evija’s interior in an Esprit (with large amounts of carryover, not just design ‘intent’) would instantly separate it from the competition. Is this the case, based on the Evija, I would say no at this point, It looks like a stand alone vehicle developed in isolation (by Williams) to me, but I hope I’m wrong.
Perhaps the SUV be used as the volume seller, with its parts used on Esprit? This would not send a particularly palatable message imho, but who knows.
Either way, it’s too soon to judge, but there is huge amount of good will and latent buying potential out there if they get the mix right. I for one will be rooting for them.

Edited by Jellinek on Sunday 21st July 10:34

drjdog

230 posts

14 months

Sunday 21st July
quotequote all
SOL111 said:
Yes, they have to start from somewhere and at least they're channeling their thoughts and energy in the right direction.

It's what us engineers do I'm afraid. We don't shy away from doing things because the time isn't right or the apparent challenges too difficult. The process of doing it and possibly failing is all part/parcel of progress, growing your engineering heritage, knowledge and experience.

This one might be less than optimal but in 2 or 3 cars time it'll be cracking, precisely because of what they've gained in the process. In the same way the Elise didn't suddenly appear but is so bloody good because of an age of experience.
I don't think they gain anything from this in terms of making a more sensible car. The battery and motor tech aren't theirs. The current battery tech is useless for lightweight sports cars. Lightweight sports cars is what lotus are.

A1VDY

669 posts

71 months

Sunday 21st July
quotequote all
Pointless car for goofy types.
Clogged roads and very low speed limits make yet another car with ridiculous power a total white elephant which won't get from a to b on roads any quicker than a 1.2 fiesta..

toppstuff

13,696 posts

191 months

Sunday 21st July
quotequote all
This is all about Geeley. And China.

China is using Lotus and its undoubtedly talented engineers to make a statement. "Look at us - we can be top dog" is the message.

Comparing this car to Lotus' past rather misses the point.

dbroughton

281 posts

158 months

Sunday 21st July
quotequote all
Agree that hypercars are dull.

Anything over £100k needs serious multimillionaire cash and an EV over £1m puts in the Oligarch and Dictator range who ironically make most of their money from selling oil.

I stopped reading Evo when it became simply car porn and the cars, no more attainable then 18 year old twins. At least Pistonheads has the equivalent of readers wives smile

But seriously I miss the Halcyon days when £50k out you in motor car heaven with TVR, Lotus and many other chasing customers with very desirable metal (or fibreglass). Now that just megahatch money

Oakman

163 posts

102 months

Sunday 21st July
quotequote all
Wasn’t the first small electric sports car produced by Tesla - based on a Lotus Elise ?

Look where it’s gone from there.

Cold

7,161 posts

34 months

Sunday 21st July
quotequote all
They said the Lotus Carlton was too fast too. biggrin

je777

302 posts

48 months

Sunday 21st July
quotequote all
wab172uk said:
The whole £1m+ Hypercar thing is becoming increasingly pointless.

Yeah, they're great engineering feats, and great looking artwork in some Billionaires very expensive garage. But I'm now like Hu'h another car purely to get the cash out of the rich.

We'll see one or 2 at some shows. You'll never see any on the road.

I've never read up on any of these new Hypercars. Just not interested anymore.
I agree. The exceptions for me are the Valkyrie, because it's about half a tonne lighter than the rest and revs to ~12,000 (imagine comparing the sound of that and this), and whatever Gordon Murray comes up with - for the same reasons.

Otherwise, yet another in the ongoing blitz of 1,000, 2,000, whatever BHP cars that never go anywhere simply produces the noise 'Meh' in my mind.

I couldn't imagine being less interested in a new Lotus model.

ash73

16,331 posts

165 months

Sunday 21st July
quotequote all
Sports cars in general have a bit of a problem. There's a dichotomy between the one way trend of increasing congestion (and resentment towards "making progress"), and the ever increasing performance of sports cars.

Most cars over £30k have performance that can't be used on the roads. Little three cylinder warm hatches, or a poverty spec Caterham, are the only responsible way to have fun now... but they don't make much money.

I'm not sure this is the right way to sell EVs. It's an odd contradiction that most EV buyers want to virtue signal they care about the environment; while at the same time thrashing everyone away from the lights wobble

Tryke3

1,288 posts

38 months

Sunday 21st July
quotequote all
If you cant understand the technological advancement to have a 2000bhp motor that would cost 5p a mile to run with no gaskets, seals, turbos, gearboxes, diffs, pistons, oil pumps etc then you have the wrong job.

Hth

Fire99

9,615 posts

173 months

Sunday 21st July
quotequote all
Personally, I agree that the genre can leave you cold. These electric hypercars do nothing for me either.
However, I find it curious that you wait until Lotus unveil a class-leading car that you decide that there's some fundamental issue with these kinds of cars.
I don't like the genre but if you look at the class in isolation, Lotus are joining the party and going straight to the top of the pile. You need to acknowledge them for that.

There seems no press on earth that are more critical of Lotus than its homegrown press!