Lotus E-R9 is the British firm's vision for a Le Mans endurance racer in 2030


How racing cars could look when petrol and diesel is banned: Lotus E-R9 is the British firm’s vision for an electric endurance racer in 2030

  • Lotus says the E-R9 is ‘partly driven like a car and partly flown like a fighter jet’
  • That’s because it has ‘morphing body panels’ that adjust at the push of a button
  • The driver can change the shape of the bodywork to make the car turn quicker
  • It is powered by four electric motors – one at each wheel – and shares performance features with the £2m Evija hypercar due for release later this year  

Lotus has revealed its vision for motorsport when new petrol and diesel car sales are banned from sale at the end of the decade.

The E-R9 is the British firm’s concept electric racer for endurance events – such as the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans – in 2030 when rules are likely to stipulate that vehicles need to ditch conventional fuels and use more sustainable power sources.

Designers at Lotus said it is ‘partly driven like a car and partly flown like a fighter jet’ and features ‘morphing body panels’ that can change their shape at the touch of a button to make the car more aerodynamically efficient.

The E-R9 has been developed by a team of boffins at Lotus Engineering to showcase the brand’s ‘philosophy, capability and innovative spirit in the fields of advanced electrified powertrains and aerodynamics’.

The car maker has in recent months ramped-up the development of its future vehicles, with the £2million Evija hypercar – due to be released this year – signalling a brave new electrified world for the legendary brand. 

The E-R9 will feature four electric motors in total, one powering each wheel.

It will use torque-vectoring technology to improve driving performance – something that has already been promised for the Evija.

The E-R9 is also designed to be fully adjustable on the move, with the driver capable of making minute changes to the car’s settings and even its shape at the press of a button while at the wheel. 

The E-R9 has four electric motors, one powering each wheel, and uses torque vectoring performance-enhancing technology being used in the British brand's new £2m hypercar

The E-R9 has four electric motors, one powering each wheel, and uses torque vectoring performance-enhancing technology being used in the British brand’s new £2m hypercar

The bodywork over the top and back of the vehicle is made up of 'morphing panels' that can change shape at the press of a button

The bodywork over the top and back of the vehicle is made up of ‘morphing panels’ that can change shape at the press of a button

The adjustable bodywork means the race is 'partly driven like a car and partly flown like a fighter jet,' says Lotus' engineers

The adjustable bodywork means the race is ‘partly driven like a car and partly flown like a fighter jet,’ says Lotus’ engineers

One of these elements is the bodywork itself, with morphing panels across the top of the car.

These are on the upper section of the car behind the fighter jet-style canopy that’s centrally mounted in the delta-wing profile.

Depending on the requirement for more downforce when cornering or to make the car more bullet-like in a straight line, the surface of the panels can change shape when the driver flips a switch.

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This also adjusts the vertical control surfaces at the rear, which can generate aerodynamic forces to help the car change direction, similar to the flaps on a plane wing. 

‘The result is a racer that’s partly driven like a car and partly flown like a fighter jet,’ says the British car firm.

The new two-seater electric Lotus Evija hypercar is due to be unveiled in production form this year and develops a massive 2,000 horsepower

The new two-seater electric Lotus Evija hypercar is due to be unveiled in production form this year and develops a massive 2,000 horsepower

It will cost £2million and feature taut, muscular-haunches and low-crouching aerodynamic exterior designed to appear ‘shrink-wrapped’ over the mechanical components and around the teardrop shaped glass cabin

It will cost £2million and feature taut, muscular-haunches and low-crouching aerodynamic exterior designed to appear ‘shrink-wrapped’ over the mechanical components and around the teardrop shaped glass cabin

While Lotus has a glowing history in the world of Formula One, the E-R9 is a vision for a different race series.

The ‘E-R’ stands for ‘Endurance Racer’ while the ‘9’ is a reference to the Lotus Mark IX, which debuted at the famed Le Mans 24 Hours race in 1955, with company founder Colin Chapman among the drivers competing.

Richard Hill, chief aerodynamicist at Lotus, said: ‘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.’

Like the iconic John Player Special Lotus F1 machines of the 1970s and ’80s with driving greats including Ayrton Senna among the team’s pilot, the ER-9 is finished in a black and gold livery.

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If cars on the grid do look like this in 2030, they will at least be a feast for the eyes – even if their electric powertrains will not bring as much joy to the ears. 

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