In a time far, far away, the boundaries between racing cars and fighter jets have become blurred and Lotus’ latest electric challenger, the E-R9, is “partly driven like a car and partly flown like a fighter jet”…
At least that’s the future according to Richard Hill, Lotus’ chief aerodynamicist, who made the comment upon the reveal of Lotus Engineering’s dramatic vision for a next-generation pure electric endurance racer. Unveiled by the manufacturer’s consulting design division, the ER-9 is a striking design study into the future of racing, and if pursued, a finished model could be seen on start lines around the world from 2030.
Featuring a sleek fighter jet-style canopy, between a delta-wing body, the futuristic ER-9 proposes aerodynamic innovations including ‘morphing’ body panels, which would change shape according to the air flow, either automatically or via manual input, in order to minimise drag on the straights and maximise downforce through corners. Vertical control surfaces at the rear, meanwhile, would ‘generate aerodynamic forces to help the car change direction, without the limitations of grip at the tyre contact patch’. The result – a racing car that can be almost flown like a fighter jet.
Of the project, Hill commented: “What we’ve tried to do is to push the boundaries of where we are technically today and extrapolate into the future. 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.”
In the concept’s design, Hill was joined by principal platform engineer Louis Kerr, and the technical director, GT, Geely Group Motorsports International. Design Director for Lotus, Russell Carr, brought their concept to visual fruition.
While the design is a firm step into the future, its black and gold livery is steeped in history, nodding to the pioneering spirit that saw the manufacturer accumulate 13 Formula 1 championship titles. The name, and year too, hold significance to Lotus, with ER denoting Endurance Racer, while 9 refers to the Lotus Mark IX with which the race team made its debut appearance at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1955. The year 2030, then, would mark 75 years since this inaugural entry, in which company founder Colin Chapman was among the drivers competing.
At the heart of the ER-9 would sit an optimised version of the Lotus Evija’s torque-vectoring EV powertrain, which powers each wheel independently. In the ER-9, this system would boast enhanced on the move driver adjustment.
Louis Kerr commented: “Battery energy density and power density are developing significantly year on year. Before 2030, we’ll have mixed cell chemistry batteries that give the best of both worlds, as well as the ability to ‘hot-swap’ batteries during pitstops.”