Lotus and Jaguar team up for Omnivore flexfuel engineEnlarge Photo
Direct injection, which allows for easy computer control of fuel-air ratios, an important factor in flexfuel cars, is augmented with a two-stroke cycle. Traditionally used in very small engines, usually under 1L in displacement, or very large diesel engines, such as those that power ships, two-stroke engines make more power by dispensing with separate intake and exhaust cycles, instead combining them into intake/compression and and power/exhaust strokes. The two-stroke architecture allows the engine to extract all of what biofuels like ethanol have to offer.
"Alcohols possess superior combustion characteristics to gasoline, which allow greater optimization," said Mike Kimberley, Group Lotus CEO. "Taking full advantage of the benefits of sustainable bio-alcohols will ensure a greater percentage of vehicle miles will be traveled using renewable fuels."
No stranger to partnering with other companies for engine technology when necessary, Lotus brings a great deal of engineering knowledge and experience with biofuels to the table. Jaguar, on the other hand, now has the funding of Tata Motors, subsidiary of Indian mega-conglomerate the Tata Group, behind it, and a much larger manufacturing operation at its disposal, though the parties to the project are largely silent on Jaguar's role beyond that of a 'consulting partner'. Also joining in the development process is Queen's University Belfast, which contributes a great deal of experience in engine modeling and simulation.
Lotus has already developed a flexfuel car on its own, though in a more conventional design. The Exige 270E Tri-Fuel (pictured), shown at the Geneva Motor Show this year, is capable of running on either petrol, ethanol or methanol, and yields performance equal to or better than its petrol-only counterparts.