This winter Lotus revealed E-R9, a groundbreaking new design concept for a next-generation fully electric speed racer that may compete at circuits across the world by 2030. The EV has a streamlined fighter jet-style canopy prominently installed in a delta-wing upper body and is painted in brilliant black and gold, a clear homage to Lotus' unique racing background that has earned 13 Formula 1 championship titles.
Lotus Engineering, the company's globally famous consultancy section that executes projects for external clients, created the E-R9. The vehicle was designed as a display of the company's capability and pioneering spirit in the domains of advanced electrified powertrains and aerodynamics.
The E-R means Endurance Racer, and 9 is the car's competition number, which was deliberately picked to honor Lotus' racing heritage. The race team appeared for the first time at the Le Mans 24 Hours in a Lotus Mark IX, with firm owner Colin Chapman among the drivers. The year was 1955, which means that if the E-R9 race car prototype is raced in 2030, it will honor the 70th birthday of the Mark IX.
Richard Hill (Lotus' head aerodynamicist), Louis Kerr (Lotus' main platform engineer on the Lotus Evija fully electric performance car and tech director), GT, Geely Group Motorsports International, worked together to create the E-R9. The Lotus Design team, directed by Russell Carr, Design Director for Lotus, was responsible for bringing it to life aesthetically.
“What we've aimed to do is push the limits of where we are technically now and extend into the future,” said Richard Hill. Lotus E-R9 features technology that we intend to develop and be useful in the future. Lotus has a long history of creating one-of-a-kind solutions, which we've demonstrated in both motorsport and with our road cars.”
The car's morphing body panels are the most notable of the car's aero advancements. This flexibility, where active surfaces can modify their form and inclination to the airflow (either at the touch of a button by the car owner or instantly based on quality sensor inputs) – would send minimal level drag on the straights and max downforce in the edges.
Vertical control surfaces in the back would provide aerodynamic forces to assist Lotus E-R9 in changing direction while avoiding tire contact patch grip restrictions. As a result, a racer that can be driven like a vehicle and flown like a fighter jet has been created.
Lotus E-R9 has a sophisticated electric powertrain with torque vectoring that powers each wheel separately. It relies on the Lotus Evija fully electric hypercar's tech, although the E-would R9's be entirely customizable by the driver while on the road.
“Battery energy density and power density are rapidly increasing year on year,” Louis Kerr remarked. By 2030, we'll achieve mixed-cell chemistry batteries with the best of both worlds and the potential to 'hot-swap' batteries between pit stops.”
Lotus E-R9 is featured in the March issue of Evo magazine, which includes more information and photos. It features a 32-page supplement related to the Lotus Engineering consultancy's past, present, and bright future stories.
It's a good way of looking into a company that has done more than others to form the automotive industry today, from Colin Chapman's founding work in the early 1950s to the numerous project activities the team has worked on over the decades, some never made public before.