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First Look: Lotus City Car

Design could incorporate hybrid, plug-in or battery drive.

by on Dec.20, 2010

Lotus plans to launch this city car by late 2013.

Lotus is the latest automaker hoping to convince buyers that small doesn’t have to mean cheap, as it releases the first images of a proposed city car that could hit market by late 2013.

As urban streets get more crowded and regulators press for big increases in fuel efficiency, even the most high-line automakers are looking for downsized alternatives, and the as yet-unnamed Lotus city car, which was first discussed by CEO Dany Bahar in Britain’s Car magazine, is one approach.

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Looking a bit like a modernized, four-door take on the Smart fortwo, the tall Lotus three-door uses a platform specifically designed for an extended-range electric driveline.  A 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine would most likely serve as a generator which, in turn, provides current to the vehicle’s electric motors.

It’s unclear whether Lotus might try to offer other driveline options, such as a pure battery-electric model, or a more conventional hybrid.  Bahar did note that several versions will be developed, including a sporty model.  Battery power actually lends itself to performance, as electric motors generate maximum torque as soon as they start spinning.