Lotus Adds Lightness To Toyota Venza Photo:
Peter Anderson | May, 22 2012 | 0 Comments

Long before GM's slightly inexplicable purchase of Lotus way back in the 1980s, Lotus Engineering had been helping carmakers improve their offerings.

The company's projects have included the Lotus Talbot Sunbeam rally car, the DeLorean DMC-12, the legendary Lotus Carlton and the Aston Martin DB9.

In all its endeavours, Lotus continues to define itself by founder Colin Chapman's 'simplify, then add lightness' mantra.

It was a strategy that served the brand well, bringing more than a few victories on the track - although the fragility of Chapman's philosophy often made his Formula 1 drivers think twice about strapping themselves in.

The group's latest project is the massive modification of a current, second-generation US-market Toyota Venza.

A report commissioned by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has detailed the steps Lotus took to reduce the weight of the Venza's 'body-in-white,' the car's shell.

Initially, Lotus replaced some of the steel with a variety of lighter metals such as magnesium, aluminium and high strength steel, along with a number of composite materials.

All of this had the unfortunate side effect of adding 50 percent to the cost of the vehicle, which, in any car company, would require a defibrillator in the accounts office.

Phase two saw Lotus look at every part used in the regular Venza's production, discovering that with some modifications, the component count could be reduced from 400 to just 170.

The end result was a whopping 38 percent reduction in weight.

Lotus data suggests that with this weigh reduction, fuel consumption could be reduced by 23 percent with just a 3 percent cost increase in manufacturing.

As a result of the collaboration, a Venza produced in this fashion would likely cost around $1000 more in the showroom, but with an expected 7.2 l/100km fuel consumption rating for a big SUV, it may be a small price to pay.

CARB, and Lotus Engineering, are hoping consumers and carmakers alike will see the benefits.

“It’s a very powerful message that it is possible to reduce mass on a vehicle in a cost effective manner if you approach it in a holistic, system level," Lotus Engineering North America boss Darren Somerset said.

Lotus is famous for its lightweight approach. The Lotus Elise's tub weighs a mere 76kg, obviating the need for a big engine, which requires bigger everything else to support it, which adds weight.

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