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Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Lotus finds a buyer for its hybrid engine

Lotus signs an agreement with Fagor Ederlan to sell its generator engine designed for series hybrid vehicle.

Lotus Evora 414E Hybrid
Lotus used the Evora 414E Hybrid concept to show off its range extender engine at the Geneva auto show. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Last year Lotus announced a new engine designed specifically as an onboard generator for electric vehicles, giving them range beyond what batteries can provide. That engine was more than a concept, as the Fagor Ederlan Group, a European-based supplier of power train and chassis equipment to the automotive industry, announced an agreement with Lotus for production and sales of the engine.

Lotus' three-cylinder 1.2-liter engine combines block, head, and exhaust manifold in a single piece for efficient construction and low maintenance. The company showed it off as a component of the Evora 414E Hybrid at this year's Geneva auto show.

Fagor Ederlan has a large number of automotive clients, and has supplied everything from aluminum knuckles for Mercedes-Benz suspensions to engine components for Honda. Although Fagor Ederlan did not announce a specific client interested in Lotus' generator engine, Honda could use it to replace the fuel cells in its Clarity vehicle, which already has an electric vehicle architecture. Likewise, Mercedes-Benz has in the past suggested that its experimental fuel cell vehicles could use a different generator source for electricity.

Interest in Lotus' engine will probably depend on the success of GM's upcoming Chevrolet Volt, which uses just the kind of extended range electric vehicle architecture the engine was built for, as other automakers develop a competitor. GM itself is probably not a potential buyer, as it has already developed the Volt's engine in-house.