For most of us, there are few cars on the market less exciting than the Toyota Venza. But a Venza re-designed by Lotus? Still a Venza--except that it's 38 percent lighter and only 3 percent more expensive. Still not moved? Imagine the savings applied to your favorite mass-market sport sedan or coupe. Things start getting exciting.
The weight savings expedition was undertaken with environmental benefits in mind, but as Colin Chapman noted back in the 1960s, lightness is also of benefit to acceleration, cornering and braking. It's good for a 23 percent or greater reduction in fuel economy, too, though, according to the U.S. Department of Energy's estimates.
Lotus Engineering hopes to get the techniques used to lighten the Venza study vehicle into mass-market production pipelines by 2020. The key is using better materials and more component integration while still maintaining the volumes, sight lines and safety of current cars--all goals achieved with the Venza study car.
The possibilities for the mainstream and sport/luxury segment alike with application of Lotus' engineering principles could see us driving not the neo-Goggomobils of the dystopian global warming/CAFE/peak oil induced future, but cars like those we have today--powered to similar performance levels by more efficient engines. And that's something we can all appreciate.