|The Obvio! chassis based on Niess Rings.|
Brazil’s Obvio! Automotoveiculos S.A. has selected the UK’s Lotus Engineering to develop two “trybrid” high-performance microsports cars for markets across the globe, in a deal potentially worth more than £70 million (US$137 million).
The Obvio! 828 and 012 are the first products for the new Brazilian OEM. (Earlier post.) The full engineering program will include the development of an advanced vehicle safety structure, the integration of multi-fuel engines that will run on gasoline, bioethanol (in blends up to 100%—E100—but optimized for E85) or natural gas, and other future powertrain variants.
In July 2006, Obvio! CEO Ricardo Machado said that while the initial versions of the 828 and 012 car designs will be flex-fueled, the 828E and 012E with electric drive systems will follow shortly. (Earlier post.)
Obvio! has a strategic partnership with California automobile distributor ZAP, which has agreed to be the exclusive North American distributor and has pre-purchased 50,000 Obvio! units.
Lotus Engineering will work with a range of Brazilian supplier-partners to develop two variants of the new chassis concept which will be engineered incorporating Niess Elliptical Survival Rings, already well-proven in the aerospace industry.
Providing exceptional chassis performance as well as class-leading safety, the concept also allows for very light structures. The target weight for the 012 is 750 kg (1,648 lbs) and for the 828 is 600 kg (1,318 lbs). This will enable the vehicles to feature good performance characteristics while also running with efficient and economical power plants.
Initially, power will come from a 1.6-liter unit produced by Brazilian engine manufacturer Tritec Motors coupled with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Lotus Engineering will develop a new engine management unit, which will give the engine “trybrid” capabilities, running automatically on natural gas, bio-ethanol or gasoline. In parallel, Lotus will develop 170 hp and 250 hp turbocharged variants for higher performance models in the Obvio! range.
A core Obvio!-Lotus engineering management team will be based in a dedicated project center at Lotus’ Hethel headquarters. It will manage the engineering program for the two vehicles, which will be delivered by Lotus Engineering facilities worldwide and for the first time by a group of high-profile Brazilian-based tier one suppliers who will be heavily involved from the very earliest stages. The two vehicles will be built in Brazil, with production expected to start late in 2008.