With Nissan’s Infiniti division having announced running, driving versions of its
EMERG-E concept at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, it only made sense for Lotus to reveal its operable version of the Evora 414E, – a car with which the Infiniti shares a number of aspects, including the chassis and basic drive system.
Both vehicles have been developed as part of the REEVolution R&D project, a consortium led program funded by the UK government’s Innovation Agency.
The Evora 414E has been subject to a fairly lengthy gestation period, having begun development back in 2010. Like the EMERG-E, it uses twin electric motors to drive the rear wheels, with a 1.2-liter, three-cylinder internal combustion engine serving as a range-extending generator.
Lotus says that, like the Infiniti, the Evora 414E can travel a distance of up to 30 miles on electric power alone, while the three-cylinder engine (which is designed to run on gasoline or methanol or alcohol) is able to extend range up to 300 miles.
In an official press release from the company, Lotus says the Evora 414E will accelerate from 0-60 mph in four seconds and boasts a top speed of 130 mph – however it doesn’t say how long it will take to get to 130 mph from rest (Infiniti says 30 seconds for the EMERGE-E).
Although, due to the weight of the battery pack, the Evora 414E is significantly heavier than the Evora S (likely around 3,550 lbs, if the EMERG-E is anything to go by); thanks to 408 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque on tap in the Evora 414E, performance more than healthy by EV standards.
According to Simon Corbett, principal vehicle dynamics test and development Engineer at Lotus, the Evora 414E’s acceleration “is almost indescribable, the surge of torque is like an ocean wave.”
The powertrain is configured so that under hard acceleration, the electricity will be supplied through the Xtrac 1092 transmission by both the battery storage and the engine.
In their effort to simulate the kick in the pants provided by a powerful conventional supercar, Lotus engineers have also taken pains to simulate some of that genre’s other visceral sensations.
A column-mounted paddle shift for instance simulates super quick up and down shifts along with synthesized engine sounds appropriate for virtual gear selections piped in to recreate the feel of controlling a fast petrol-powered sports car.
Upon shifting, torque is modulated to mimic the feeling of a gear change. This shifting changes the vehicle’s driving characteristics as though it were a regular dual-clutch transmission slamming a shift.
Downshifts are mimicked by modulating the resistance provided by the regenerative braking which makes the car feel like it is slowing under engine braking. Instead of wasting the energy as is the case with true engine braking, the regen feature feeds captured energy to the 17-kw battery pack.
The system lets the driver select the appropriate level of regeneration by simulating stepping down by one, two or three gears. It is all accompanied by simulated engine sounds and the setup is said to be completely intuitive to grasp by drivers experienced with conventional dual-clutch transmissions.
These speed racer features designed into the electrified car are rather novel, and whether they make it to a production vehicle remains to be seen, or – as range-extended vehicles, and ultimately pure EVs advance – they are later deemed superfluous.
It could well be that as high-performance electric vehicles come on market in coming years that no one will miss the former actions associated with piloting a conventional car. These early on adaptions intended to make the transition from old to new could later be seen as evolutionary steps and not needed to enjoy new-found visceral sensations offered in their own right by electric drive.
Indeed, at this point in time, it’s difficult to say whether the 414E will ever become a production car, since like the running EMERG-E, it’s been largely conceived as a rolling showcase for advanced vehicle technology, in keeping with REEV (Range Extending Electric Vehicle) project guidelines.
Nevertheless, it does show what kind of performance potential is available with range extending technology, even at this early stage in the game.