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Lotus goes beyond just CO2 emissions for new Elise

Lotus EliseI picked up Lotus’ latest release for the London Motor show hoping to be able to dismiss it quickly.  I had expected the release, entitled ‘Lotus Eco Elise, trackday warrior turns eco warrior’, to say it could run on biofuel and therefore it’s green.  An easy greenwash dismiss if ever I did see one.

Sports cars simply are not built to be as green as possible.  Even the completely electric Tesla is built for speed so is not as efficient as possible.

However I have been very impressed with the efforts Lotus has made.  Admittedly, the inside does look like it’s eaten one too many bean burgers, but that aside, local materials, solar panels set into the roof and environmentally friendly paints have all been used to minimise its footprint.  According to the release:

The Eco Elise project promotes a different perspective on “green”, one which does not revolve solely around tailpipe CO2. This holistic approach is in keeping with the progressive Lotus culture, driving Lotus to become the world’s green automotive consultancy.

Sustainable materials, hemp, eco wool and sisal have been developed for body panels and trim and, combined with hi-tech water based paint solutions, showcase new affordable green technologies. The green credentials of the technology on show in the Eco Elise have been analysed throughout the lifecycle of the car.  Solar panels have been set into the hemp hard top to help power the electrical systems and give a means of renewable energy generation.

The sportscar firm actually appears to have thought through many aspects of the car’s design to minimise its impact.   Including the driving style of the owners.

A green gear change display has been integrated into the dashboard to promote greener driving as well as a weight reduction programme, illustrating the holistic approach taken. The energy expended to manufacture the car has been evaluated, working to the 3R’s – Reduce, Re-use and Recycle.

In keeping with the “performance through light weight” philosophy, the Eco Elise weighs 32 kg (70.5 lbs) less than the standard Elise S, which means that the efficient Elise S engine in the Eco Elise will give higher fuel economy figures and even better performance.

More from the release:

Dramatic improvements to the culture and operations at Lotus has rewarded the company with staggering reductions in energy (Electricity 14%, Gas 30%) and water (11%) consumed across the Hethel headquarters in 2007, compared to 2006. These advances have coincided with improvements in recycling, with 57% of waste product now being recycled.

The new green materials sourced for this car have been carefully studied to ensure that each technology used reduces the environmental impact of the vehicle. The life of the components has been analysed; during the production stage, in-use and at the end of the vehicle’s life. The technology used aims to offer lower emissions of both solvents and CO2 in the lifecycle of the vehicle, with reductions in energy consumed during manufacture.

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