London Motor Show 2008For a sports car, the Lotus Elise has always been pretty economical with the fuel, so Lotus has had to go that extra step with its Eco Elise. Unfortunately it's only a concept model at this stage.
Not just a lightweight
To improve both fuel economy and performance, Lotus has followed founder Colin Chapman's mantra of "add(ing) lightness". Via a variety of measures, 32kg has been shaved off the standard car's already a paltry 860kg — for comparison's sake the lightest Corolla tips the scales at 1275kg.
However, according to Lotus, it's not all about weight and tailpipe emissions, but also about reducing the environmental impact of producing and running the car. Solar panels in the roof power some of the car's electrical systems.
Paint me green
Water based paints have been used, which reduces solvent emissions during the production process. And the composite body panels now include hemp fibres, farmed in the vicinity of Lotus' English factory.
Loud and proud
Alpine was contracted to provide a lightweight sound system for the Eco Elise, saving 1.5kg over the standard unit, and providing MP3 playback. The car's industrial-looking carpets are made from sisal.
Other Lotus cars have a red shift light to remind drivers to shift up before hitting the engine's rev-limiter; the Eco Elise features a green shift light to help driver's shift gears for maximum fuel efficiency.
Once a jolly jumbuck ...
The Eco Elise's seats are swathed a biodegradable woollen fabric which are neither dyed nor processed; the upholstery's colour derives from the breeds of sheep used for the wool.
15 of the 32 kilgrams saved from the Elise's weight comes from the lightweight wheels.