Chinese, Malaysian owned Lotus Engineering Expands Hethel

Ken Zino of AutoInformed.com on New Asian Investments in  Lotus

The Lotus consultancy claims to provide a comprehensive range of technical services to automotive manufacturers and suppliers.

The Asian Investors that own Lotus are making a multi-million-pound investment to enhance the engineering test facilities in Hethel, Norfolk UK. These latest improvements are in addition to an all-new sports car factory, which will be home to an all-new Lotus model next year, along with a new assembly hall dedicated to the Lotus Evija all-electric hypercar. Both will be manufacturing new Lotus cars during 2021. (Lotus at Goodwood Confirms Type 130 Named EVIJA)The Lotus Engineering consultancy seeks to expand its portfolio of services and its client base. It will complement the Lotus Cars business as it prepares to deliver a new range of performance cars – the first of which will be unveiled next year. (The Cora Virus effect is unknown as yet, along with the UK’s trading status with the EU.

Improvements include an all-new Electric Drive Unit (EDU) test cell, plus upgrades to the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) test and development cells, the Propulsion Prototype build workshop and the vehicle emissions lab. The 2.2-mile Hethel test track – the scene of so much historic race and road car development since Lotus moved to the Norfolk site in 1966 – has also been upgraded. (Renault Group to buy Lotus F1 Team, Raffle by Jim Clark Trust for Lotus Evora, Formula 1: Car by Car 1950–59 Now Available in the U.S.)

In 2020 Lotus Engineering celebrates 40 years since it was formally incorporated. The consultancy claims to provide a comprehensive range of technical services to automotive manufacturers and suppliers. While much of its work and list of clients remains confidential, its ‘greatest hits’ include some of the best-known and most-loved performance cars of all time such as the Lotus Cortina, the Lotus Carlton, the Lotus Sunbeam and others.

“We see huge potential to put Lotus Engineering right at the cutting edge of automotive innovation, further building on our core competencies as well as increasing our capability in growth areas,” said Matt Windle, Executive Director, Engineering, Lotus. “An example is electrification. The challenges around weight reduction and improved dynamics are a major factor in the quest for more efficient electric vehicles that link back directly to the Lotus core values,” Windle said today.

As announced in July this year, Lotus Engineering’s new home will be on the Wellesbourne campus of the University of Warwick, part of an all-new advanced technology Center for Lotus being established in the West Midlands.

The growth strategy for Lotus Engineering is threefold:

  • Experience: active noise, Human Machine Interface (HMI), user interface, user experience, cockpit, infotainment, driver engagement
  • Platform: concepts, structures, architectures, propulsion, manufacturing
  • Dynamics: ride and handling, lightweighting, aerodynamics, simulation, chassis systems

Hethel Improvements

All-new Electric Drive Unit (EDU) test cell
An all-new facility at Lotus, it allows engineers to test EV powertrains including the motor, gearbox and supporting electronics. Lotus software can communicate with the motor control system and load the powertrain as if it were in a vehicle, to test, develop and validate its performance.

Upgraded Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) Test and Development Cells
These are used for ICE development, calibration and durability testing, and have been upgraded to enable Lotus to deliver comprehensive world-class test data to the latest international standards. Specific improvements have been made to further improve capability and futureproofing on complex test profiles, calibration requirements, high-speed data acquisition and multiple channel configurations.

Upgraded Propulsion Prototype Build Workshop
This workshop allows Lotus engineers to build and test new engines, transmissions and EDUs. It has been completely redesigned and re-equipped with all-new hardware and new IT systems to improve the range of services offered. including high-quality prototype building.

Upgraded Vehicle Emissions Lab
New equipment has been added to allow Lotus engineers to test and validate vehicles to the latest emissions standards, not just for the UK and Europe but in all international markets.

Upgraded Hethel test track
New additions to the famous circuit include new protective trackside barriers; new CCTV cameras to enable full track visibility; new safety systems including an upgraded entrance/exit barrier control system; and improved fire protection around the circuit.

About Lotus

Group Lotus is based in Hethel, Norfolk, UK. It is part of Geely Automotive, a growing automotive group. Geely has a 51% controlling stake, with 49% owned by Etika Automotive, a Malaysian conglomerate.

Lotus Cars builds high-performance sports cars including the Evora, Elise and Exige ranges. In July 2019 it launched the Evija, the world’s first all-electric British hypercar. Production will start in 2021.

Lotus Engineering provides a comprehensive consultancy service which works with many of the world’s OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers. It is internationally recognized for automotive engineering and vehicle development.

About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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