Lotus Reveals 2030 Endurance Race Car Design Study

Lotus revealed a new design study called the E-R9 on Tuesday. A concept for an endurance race car from the year 2030, the virtual competition car is said to feature “morphing” body panels and a fully electric drivetrain.

The E-R in the E-R9’s name stands for endurance racer. The 9? That represents something a bit more important. It’s a nod to Lotus’s racing heritage. The first car the company raced at the 24 Hours of Le Mans was called the Mark IX. Though it wasn’t exactly successful, it was still a major step for the brand. And the year 2030 will mark the 75th anniversary of its appearance at the legendary French event.

The E-R9 looks appropriately futuristic, with some wild proportions that make it look more spaceship than race car. The weirdest feature isn’t the look, though. It’s how the body can literally change to optimize airflow. From the release:

Chief among the car’s aero innovations are its ‘morphing’ body panels. Located across the delta-wing profile, this adaptability—where active surfaces can change their shape and attitude to the air flow either at the press of a button by the driver or automatically according to performance sensor inputs—would deliver minimum drag on the straights and maximum downforce in the corners. Vertical control surfaces at the rear would generate aerodynamic forces to help the car change direction, without the limitations of grip at the tire contact patch. The result is a racer that’s partly driven like a car and partly flown like a fighter jet.

“What we’ve tried to do is to push the boundaries of where we are technically today and extrapolate into the future,” chief aerodynamicist Richard Hill said in a statement. “The Lotus E-R9 incorporates technologies which we fully expect to develop and be practical. Lotus has an amazing history of developing unique solutions, and we’ve done it many times in motorsport and with our road cars.”

As for the powertrain, Lotus says the E-R9 would be powered by an “advanced electric drivetrain” that spins each wheel independently. There would be torque-vectoring and other tech derived from the company’s upcoming 2000-horsepower all-electric Evija hypercar.

Of course, the E-R9 is just an idea for now—no real version exists. It’s simply Lotus’s idea of what an endurance race car from the brand would look like nine years from now. Still, if this is the direction Lotus is going, we’re all for it.

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