Lotus Engineering  – the UK-based engineering consulting unit that is a subsidiary of Malaysia-based Proton – has announced that it has been awarded two major contracts for its vehicle and powertrain engineering services. The customers for the work are not named by Lotus, but industry analysts note that the company is working much more closely with its parent these days.
“We are extremely proud to have been awarded this new business,” commented Simon Wood, Commercial Director of Lotus Engineering. “Both of these programmes will lead to high-tech product launches in several years time. We are honoured that once again Lotus’ innovative spirit has been called upon to best serve these customers.”

Lotus says the first contract relates to the full design and development of a family of niche vehicles, each with the capability of being produced at the rate of 10,000 per annum.  The company adds that the programme will take advantage of Lotus’ Versatile Vehicle Architecture (VVA) technology, the details of which are still secret.

“VVA is a technology that Lotus has researched and developed over several years. We are very excited with its potential. This technology will allow our customers to release a full range of niche vehicle variants, with minimised economic impact. VVA provides the ability to reduce engineering & facility investment and optimise bill-of-material costs.”

Lotus says that VVA is about utilising novel technologies to improve the economic model for lower volume and/or niche vehicle programmes. It uses Lotus’ capabilities in joining technologies, as well as steel, aluminium & composite body engineering.

The VVA vehicle engineering contract is worth £35m over several years.

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The second major contract utilises Lotus Engineering’s powertrain technology. Lotus Engineering has been chosen to design and develop a new powertrain product variant that will utilise Lotus’ patented Cam Profile Switching technology.

 “We have already successfully demonstrated certain aspects of this technology in today’s market. Indeed the Porsche VarioCam PlusTM system utilises design elements licensed from Lotus Engineering.”

Lotus says the engine variant will be installed in vehicles destined for sale in markets across the globe.

The Cam Profile Switching powertrain engineering contract is worth £10m over several years.

Lotus’ parent company, Proton, recently announced that it is to start producing its own engines this year ahead of AFTA rules that will open up the Malaysian car market by 2005. The ‘Campro’ engine has been developed with Lotus and is a sign of a greater engineering development role for Lotus within the Proton group.