Lotus Ethos Plug-In Hybrid Mini Car (CONCEPT)

Written By: EightySix

Edited By: Assen Gueorguiev

Will we ever drive a Lotus Ethos?

At the 2010 Paris Auto Show, Lotus shocked the audience by revealing the Ethos City Car Concept. The snub yet slick super-compact plug-in hybrid can drive around 40 miles with in electric only mode. To recharge the 14.8 kWh lithium battery pack on longer drives, the Ethos utilizes a 1.2 liter three cylinder engine as a range extending generator. It can hit 60 miles per hour in under ten seconds and tops out around 106.

The concept is shorter and chunkier than a typical Lotus, but inside it sports the green and yellow tartan, luscious leather and carbon fiber you'd expect. A broad glass roof increases visibility. The low, wide ride gives it a sportier feel than you'd expect from a little green car. Lotus has always been about lightweight, efficient performance cars. Building an exciting hybrid was a logical next step.

But years later we are still waiting for the Ethos to emerge from a factory. American Lotus dealers have not heard anything recent about the car and fear it has faded away. Yet while you can't find a Lotus badge on a plug-in hybrid, echoes of the vehicle still ring around the planet.

Following the path of the Ethos is a reminder that cars are a global product. There is no such thing as a purely British, Japanese or American car. Lotus was working together with Italdesign Giugiaro and Malaysian automaker Proton on the EMAS (Eco Mobility Advance Solution). The Ethos was Lotus' version of the EMAS. Before the companies could jointly get the car into production, Italdesign Giugiaro was purchased by the Volkswagen Group. The concept influenced the Volkswagen Up, which was spun into the Skoda Citigo.

The Ethos/EMAS was built on a heavily modified Toyota iQ chassis, which is sold in North America as the Scion IQ. Proton has continued with with the Global Small Car concept. It is nearing the release of a GSC model to follow its successful Savvy, which was launched in 2005.

Pure electrical vehicles supported by range extending flex-fuel engines are the future for urban drivers. While the Lotus Ethos may never be more than an Auto Show thrill, you've had a taste of it if you've ever driven a Volkswagen Up, Toyota iQ or Proton sub-compact.

Will we ever see a production Ethos? Or is Lotus just too fast and sexy to dwell in the realm of practical green cars?