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SYFY WIRE Transformers

Lotus' shape-shifting racecar prototype is a Transformer with a need for speed

By Jeff Spry

Lotus Cars is a legendary name in international motor sports, with seven Formula One World Championships to boast of and a tradition of automotive excellence building elegant sports cars and racing cars since 1948.

Now Lotus is vaulting ten years into the future with the unveiling of the ER-9, a new transformable electric hypercar prototype that takes its cue from Cybertron's sentient robots in disguise. 

Revealed this past week, this sleek Lotus machine might be something you'll see on the track at the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race in the next decade as internal combustion engines are going the way of the dinosaur and sadly being phased out of competition.


Also bringing to mind digitized machines seen on the game grid in the Tron movies, Lotus has vividly described their fast new toy as "a racer partly driven like a car and partly flown like a fighter jet." 

The UK-headquartered auto firm is looking into the crystal ball to the year 2030 to envision what an entry for the manufacturer's prototype class might look like at the storied French endurance race. 

The wild E-R9 was dreamed up in a collaboration between Lotus' design and engineering teams, with the combined talents of Lotus chief aerodynamicist Richard Hill, Geely Group Motorsports International GT technical director Louis Kerr, and Lotus design director Russell Carr.

"What we’ve tried to do is to push the boundaries of where we are technically today and extrapolate into the future," commented Hill. "The Lotus E-R9 incorporates technologies which we fully expect to develop and be practical."


The insane racer is an evolutionary sibling to Lotus' upcoming 1,973-hp Evija hypercar, whose high-torque electric motors will be the generational foundation for this advanced model that could light up Le Mans' Mulsanne Straight nine years down the road. Similar to the Evija, the E-R9 will be equipped with four independently powered wheels and next-generation torque vectoring for precise driver input.

And besides looking like an F-22 Raptor with four wheels, the radical racing vehicle will also sport fast-morphing aero-optimizing body panels to cut the wind and alter the car's downforce in varied driving conditions.

Its mutating shape is positioned along the delta-wing section of the body profile. As the transforming panels engage and actively change shape to fine tune vehicle aerodynamics to the conditions of the atmosphere and the track, aerodynamic drag can be minimized while rocketing down straights and downforce maximized during hard cornering. 


"Battery energy density and power density are developing significantly year on year," explains Kerr. "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 pit stops."

2030 is a special year for Lotus as it marks the 75th anniversary of the company's racing debut at Le Mans in 1955, when they rolled out a team led by company co-founder Colin Chapman behind the wheel of a Lotus Mark IX. 

Hopefully this beautiful Transformers-inspired ER-9 is in the starting grid when the green flag drops that year!

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