Even though founder and innovative mastermind, Colin Chapman, has been dead for around a quarter of a century, Lotus hasn’t stopped working towards the seemingly impossible. At the North American Dealer’s Association, Lotus Engineering, the automaker’s consultancy arm, and ZAP announced its partnership to create the ZAP-X performance electric car based on the Lotus APX.
Since it burst onto the competition scene in post-WWII England, Lotus has been at the forefront of automotive technology and design. Lotus and Lotus Engineering companies’ list of innovations include the first all-fiberglass monocoque production car (Lotus Elite) and the first use of aerodynamic wings in Formula One.
Before you remind me that I have downplayed Chevrolet’s Volt, as well as the Lotus Elise-based Tesla, allow me to explain that according to Lotus, the ZAP-X will be capable of up to 350 miles on a single electric charge with full recharge taking just ten minutes. In other words, the vehicle could deliver similar usability behavior to other performance vehicles, trucks and SUVs that deliver nearly identical ranges and take 10 minutes to fill the full tank at the gas station.
The heart of the project is the all-wheel-drive Lotus APX crossover concept. Instead of the concept’s original gasoline engine will be replaced with in-hub electric motors, delivering 644 horsepower in all wheel drive mode. According to the press release the combination of the APX’s light aluminum body and projected gearing offers a theoretical top speed of 155mph.
Lotus Engineering will serve the role of consultants to ZAP in project R+D. There is no firm timetable for when customer cars might be available.
Like the Volt, the ZAP-X is currently vaporware. Nothing but the body really exists. The difference, however, is that ZAP is committed to this car, and this car only. GM has a habit of letting a project die on the vine as executives shift priorities. There is always a chance that ZAP or Lotus Engineering could hit money troubles, and heaven knows Lotus’ past is filled with casualties caused by under-funding. We can only cross our fingers that ZAP has deep enough pockets to see the project through.
We can only guess that the initial cars will be extremely expensive, but if the concept proves viable, it is just a matter of time before a Toyota, Honda, GM or Ford applies economies of scale to the technology — making it affordable to the masses.