With the handful of new production intent concept cars Lotus is showing off at the 2010 Paris Auto Show this week, it’s evident the automaker, typically focused with lightweight sports cars, is trying new things. What’s interesting to see is that Lotus is expanding towards both ends of the new car spectrum, unveiling high-end supercars and tourers as well as this latest minicar concept.
The new concept is the 2010 Lotus City Car Concept, and as its name suggests the vehicle is aimed at motorists in congested urban environments where streets are tight and speeds are low. The vehicle comes with an advanced plug-in hybrid system with a single-speed transmission and an electric only range of roughly 40 miles--enough to cover the majority of daily journeys.
Once the vehicle’s batteries start to get depleted, owners can simply plug it into a regular household power outlet. If none can be found, the vehicle can keep driving in Range Extender mode where a small internal combustion engine is utilized. In this fashion, the Lotus City Car Concept can drive up to 300 miles.
The range extender engine is the same 1.2-liter three-cylinder unit seen in several concepts, such as the Lotus Evora 414E Hybrid seen earlier this year. It is used purely to charge an array of lithium-ion batteries that in turn powers an electric motor rated 72 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. With a total vehicle weight of less than 3,086 pounds and full torque instantly available, the Lotus City Car Concept will accelerate from 0-62 mph in 9.0 seconds and reach a reasonable top speed of 105 mph.
A stylish glass roof is incorporated into the design to increase visibility; under the glass roof the interior is trimmed in a green and yellow tartan fabric and finished with a special Lotus steering wheel. Inside, the three door hatch there’s space for four.