|The Lotus APX will serve as the basis for the new electric ZAP-X.|
ZAP and Lotus Engineering are beginning the first phase of an engineering project to use the British consultancy’s APX ("Aluminum Performance Crossover") as a basis for designing a production-ready electric all-wheel drive crossover high performance vehicle for ZAP—the ZAP-X—in the US market.
A combination of the lightweight aluminum vehicle architecture, a new efficient drive and advanced battery management systems is intended to enable a range of up to 350 miles between charges, with a rapid 10-minute recharging time. An auxiliary power unit is planned to support longer distance journeys.
The APX’s supercharged gasoline 3.0-liter V6 engine will be replaced by in-hub electric motors, delivering 644 horsepower in all-wheel drive mode, theoretically capable of powering the ZAP-X to a potential top speed of 155 mph. A new strong, lightweight and highly efficient structure based on the Lotus technology is planned to give the car a very attractive power-to-weight ratio.
The APX showcases Lotus Engineering’s Versatile Vehicle Architecture technology, combining lightweight aluminum vehicle architecture with exceptionally strong and stiff structural rigidity, as well as lower manufacturing investment requirements.
According to Lotus, the key to the VVA architecture is the high-pressure die cast corner nodes that are combined with bonding, mechanical fasteners, extruded and pressed aluminium. Having first been shown to the world at the Geneva motor show in 2006, the APX concept has won the 2006 European Aluminium Awards in the “Transport and Automotive” category.
The use of in-wheel motors leaves the space previously occupied by the conventional engine and drive train for additional battery capacity and amenities.
The development program is proposed to be managed from a new center of excellence for research and development of environmentally-friendly vehicle designs and technologies. Engineering input will come from Lotus Engineering Inc, and the British technology consultancy’s other R&D centers in the UK, Malaysia and China.
Lotus Engineering’s APX is a world-class innovative concept and was developed to showcase real solutions to new challenges facing the automotive industry. So it’s very satisfying that ZAP’s proposed new model will make use of a great deal of the APX concept’s advanced body structure and chassis technology. The bringing together of these next-generation vehicle technologies represents another significant step forward for automotive technology.—Mike Kimberley, CEO of Group Lotus plc
Earlier in January, ZAP had announced the selection of Lotus Engineering to undertake engineering concept studies for a number of electric vehicles. (Earlier post.) ZAP will display the current Lotus APX concept car at the North American Dealers Association (NADA) annual meeting and exhibition, 3-6 February 2007.