Toyota Motor Corp. is adding Lotus to its growing list of hybrid powertrain customers as the Japanese carmaker pushes to proselytize the technology and drive down costs.
A Toyota-supplied gasoline-electric drivetrain will be offered as an option on the 5.0-liter, V-8 Lotus Elite going on sale in 2014, an official at the British sports car company said.
Lotus, which will unveil the Elite at this year's Paris auto show, said the “green” version will feature a hybrid gearbox with integrated electric motors and a kinetic energy recovery system that recoups heat energy during braking to recharge the battery.
“We are working with Toyota on powertrain solutions for our future cars, and this is part of the development but it is not an existing system,” a Lotus official said.
Toyota did not confirm the plans -- but said it welcomes such deals “because we would like to see environmental technologies adopted and used as widely as possible.”
Toyota made “hybrid” a household name through the introduction of its Prius hatchback, which has become the world's best-selling gasoline-electric car. But to achieve volume and cut the costs of its expensive battery and motor systems, Toyota has been pitching the technology to rivals.
Ford was an early convert, and Japanese automakers Subaru and Mazda are among those committed to using Toyota's hybrid technology on future models.
Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz is reportedly in talks with Toyota to join the club.
The hybrid application in the $180,000 Lotus Elite takes the drivetrain into the new territory of high-priced sports cars. Lotus says it will clock 0-100 kph (about 62 mph) in approximately 3.5 seconds.
Toyota announced last month that it had sold 2.68 million hybrid vehicles worldwide since first introducing the technology in August 1997 in its Coaster Hybrid EV minibus, its first hybrid vehicle. The company launched the Prius in December of the same year.
Toyota aims to sell 1 million hybrids a year as early as possible this decade and wants to offer a hybrid version in each vehicle series of its lineup in the 2020s.