The Lotus Emira sports car and Evija all-electric hypercar have recently been launched as Hot Wheels toy cars. Dima Shakhmatov, product design manager for Hot Wheels, answers questions about the creative process.
Why did Hot Wheels choose to produce these new Lotus cars?
This is an exciting time for Lotus with the launch of new, fresh and desirable cars. With its dramatic styling, the Evija is one of the most exciting and visually interesting electric hypercars we’ve seen. The Emira will be the last combustion-engined Lotus and it was felt important to mark this by including it in the Mainline.
What is the Mainline?
Mainline is our core range of 1/64 vehicles. These are available widely in toy shops, supermarkets and come in the familiar blue-carded blister packs. Within the Mainline there are themed series and both new Lotus cars are in ‘Exotics’.
Is this the first Lotus Hot Wheels has created?
No, we have enjoyed a long relationship with the marque. In the 1960s we created a diecast of Lotus’ turbine IndyCar, the Type 56. Then in the 1980s, we produced a ‘Royal Flash’ Lotus Esprit. Since then we have created many more including the Sport Elise, 340R, Evora GT4, two further iterations of Esprit (S1 and V8), as well concept cars including the M250 and the Lotus Concept from the Designer’s Challenge series. Lotus is very popular here in our design studio!
How long did it take to create the Emira and Evija, from first sketch to the finished product?
The Hot Wheels team recreated both the Emira and Evija from scratch in our US design studio. We started with some creative ideas, sketches and renders, then CAD design supplied by Lotus, before moving to the 3D printing of initial prototypes ahead of the design sign-off by both our designers and the team at Lotus. Just like in Hethel, once design and engineering are happy, we start making the tooling and then cars can flow down our own production line. The process took us about a year for each car.
Any particular challenges with creating the design in small scale?
Our Mainline cars are toys with an RRP of £1.75, so sometimes we have to be creative. It was particularly challenging to capture all the complexity of the Venturi tunnels on the Evjia. We achieved this using the interior plastic to provide a vibrant contrast. At the rear, the LED lights are very fine, so we have printed these around the tunnel exits. Another challenge is to get this car looking ‘just right’ at this scale. This is very much an enthusiast’s car, and Lotus owners are really passionate, so we did a lot of work to get the form of Evija to look right at 1/64 scale. As such we have to tweak Lotus’ design by elongating or enhancing elements, so the overall look and stance are correct. Evija is such a dramatic car, we wanted to keep as much of that in the model, all within the restraints of it being primarily a toy.
What testing was done with the scale Lotus?
Like all our cars, we track test the prototype Emira and Evija to ensure they will offer high performance just like the real ones! We wanted to keep the sweeping low front overhang and track-hugging splitter of Evija so it’s not best suited for our stunt or loop sets. That said, its low, sleek form should make it popular for flat tracks or racing around the living room. And just like the real Emira, this model is a bit more versatile but still should offer high performance.
How did you choose the colour of the car?
For Emira, the colour honours the Seneca Blue car seen at its launch, now with added Black Pack. We also opted for a wheel design that looks a little like the diamond-cut forged alloy wheels available on the full-scale car. For the Evija, we’ve opted for the iconic colours of green and yellow. It’s a Lotus after all!
Hot Wheels isn’t necessarily known for EVs. Is it important to have EV models like the Evija for kids and adult collectors?
The automotive world is transitioning rapidly to alternative powertrains. Models such as the Evija offer inspiring performance-oriented electric cars for us to create and enable the current generation to ‘own’ and ‘drive’ these aspirational cars. Representation of EVs such as the Evija in our range can show the kids that future cars do offer performance, desirability and sustainability.
Do you need to be a car fan to do your job?
Yes, one needs to be a car fan to the core. It’s an important part of our jobs as we always try to be ahead of design and car culture trends. And we still need to design custom ‘builds’ in 1/64 scale. All of us are very passionate and are car fans. Also we have a very mixed international team, so it helps with variety and the global appeal of our toys.