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Lotus stuck the Emeya in a freezer at -35°C to check the door handles work properly…

… because it doesn’t want its flashy new car going viral for the wrong reasons in winter

Published: 26 Feb 2024

The new Lotus Emeya has been through a punishing winter testing regime as it nears its official launch, with every component right down to the door handles exposed to extreme cold.

You can understand why: YouTube is awash with cars (usually Teslas - blame the algorithm, Musk-eteers) rendered useless by pop-out handles that go rock solid at the first sign of ice.

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So as part of its stringent testing regime at the UTAC vehicle testing facility - some 150 miles deep into the Arctic Circle in Finland - Lotus has repeatedly shoved its prototypes into the shipping container-esque freezer you see above at -35°C to make absolutely sure you can still get into your circa £100k hyper-GT when Norfolk gets frosty.

“It is an important point,” agrees Sylvain Verstraeten, the Emeya’s regional vehicle line director. “It's a big customer dissatisfaction if you cannot open the door. That's basic. This is the kind of thing that hurts you. It has to work. Nobody will tolerate that the door cannot open.”

And so Lotus has deployed some niche (but interesting) science to limit the risk of it being the subject of the next viral Reel-slash-Story-slash-TikTok majiggy.

“To avoid freezing: first of all [you must] try to minimise the amount of water into the mechanism, making sure there's sufficient drainage in there so that the water can flow out.

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“You cannot avoid some moisture from the air as well. So there will be some level of humidity in there, and then it's making sure that you get a motor that's powerful enough to break the ice open.”

And there we were thinking you’d need Wallace and Gromit-style, auto-deploying hair driers or something.

The attention to detail isn’t necessarily unique, but it’s still impressive. The Emeya’s winter training camp has covered everything, including the battery (plus thermal management and charging), chassis, suspension, brakes, traction and stability control, driver assistance systems, and of course the aircon.

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The engineers even go into detail about how the temperature affects the viscosity of the grease in the steering mechanism, telling TG that the electronic assistance must be programmed to adjust to hot and cold weather so it always feels the same wherever you drive it. Neat.

“That's [all] part of the testing we are here for, and that's why we are validating all this stuff,” says Verstraeten, “and doing a proper job.”

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