Lotus makes some of the best looking, fast and fun to drive green cars. Some of it’s panels are made from recyclable hemp, and one model – the Exige 270E is a real GEM – meaning it can run on Gasoline, Ethanol or Methanol. Their engineers designed it “to demonstrate how straightforward it can be to develop high performance carbon neutral vehicles using sustainable liquid fuels.”
It’s supercharged engine puts out over 220bhp, and with a high compression ratio of 11.5:1, it gets the same or better gas mileage running on either of the alcohols than it does on gasoline!
So it is not only green, but it’s fun to drive. An awesome combination for sure. But won’t GEM cars be expensive? According to Lotus’ chief engineer Jamie Turner, he estimates that in production modes it would only cost about $60 more than a conventional, single fueled car.
Here’s the full story of how Lotus envisions getting to carbon neutral driving:
Lotus Engineering regards sustainable alcohols as the third step in a process towards carbon neutral driving. The current E85 (85% ethanol and 15% petrol/gasoline) based movement represents the first stage in building momentum towards sustainable fuels. The valuable learning from the current bio-ethanol vehicles on the market means that synthetic methanol would be managed technically and within the existing transport, storage and distribution infrastructure.
There is a handful of current bio-ethanol models on sale around the world. These cars run on E85 bioethanol, which is produced from valuable arable crops (food). This is unsustainable in the short and medium term as global demand for fuel will outstrip the supply available from farmland to the detriment of food production.
The next generation bioethanol fuels will be based on biomass waste, for example crop stubble, waste vegetable-based oils and any biodegradable waste matter. This is thought also to be unsustainable in the medium to long term as the required volume of biomass increases beyond that which can be supplied.
Sustainable alcohols such as synthetic methanol that can be produced from entirely sustainable, readily available inputs, with an environmentally neutral overall impact.
Direct Methanol Fuel Cells: over the longer term, sustainable alcohols in internal combustion will facilitate the soft introduction of direct methanol fuel cells as a long-term sustainable future fuel.
Lotus Engineering believes governments, fuel suppliers and car manufacturers have a key role to play in the adoption of sustainable alcohols as a future green fuel.
And if you think this is a car of the future, you’d be wrong. Lotus built this car 10 years ago (2008)!