Lotus hybrid concept one-ups Tesla Roadster, Chevy Volt

Lotus announces the Evora 414E Hybrid concept to debut at the 2010 Geneva auto show.

Wayne Cunningham Managing Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
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Lotus Evora
The Lotus Evora serves as the platform for a new hybrid concept. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

On the heels of announcing a hybrid power train for the Proton car company, Lotus released details of its own hybrid Evora concept. The Evora is the latest model from Lotus, and is slightly larger car than its other models that retains the company's sport driving capabilities. The Lotus Evora 414E Hybrid uses a newly developed series hybrid system, with an electric motor driving each rear wheel and a range extender internal combustion engine topping off the lithium polymer battery as needed.

Lotus Evora 414E Hybrid concept
The hybrid system is shown under the back glass of the concept. Lotus

Similar to the upcoming series hybrid Chevy Volt, the Evora 414E Hybrid will be plug-in capable, so owners can charge the battery over night. On a full charge, the car can travel 35 miles before the range extender engine kicks in, giving it a full hybrid range of more than 300 miles.

The Evora 414E Hybrid has a more sophisticated electric-drive system than the Tesla Roadster, which is built on a Lotus-designed chassis and body. Each rear wheel is powered by its own 152-kilowatt electric motor, with Lotus electronics providing torque vectoring to enhance handling. These electric motors individually create 295 pound-feet of torque, giving the Evora 414E Hybrid a zero to 60 mph time of less than 4 seconds.

Unique to the Evora 414E Hybrid is a virtual seven-speed transmission actuated by paddle shifters. Each downshift engages a more aggressive regeneration mode for the drive motors, simulating the feel of downshifting a car with gears. To complete the experience, Lotus used audio technology from Harman International that simulates engine noise, and modulates its sound based on motor speed and virtual downshifts. The driver can select from four engine sound modes: a V-6 engine, V-12 engine, a futuristic sound, and a combination of internal combustion and futuristic sounds.

The range extender is a 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine designed specifically by Lotus to drive a generator. It uses a monoblock design to lower manufacturing costs and puts out 47 horsepower.

Lotus will show the Evora 414E Hybrid concept at the upcoming Geneva auto show.