If we told you three years ago that an all-electric Lotus SUV was in the pipeline and due by 2023 you’d call us mad. Then if we told you the brand would develop a brand new platform – not something poached from its Chinese parent company Geely, which includes Volvo and Polestar – it would be downright unbelievable, but here it is.
We can only assume a number of sleepless nights were had at the brand’s new global headquarters in Wuhan, China as it prepares to flip the Lotus brand on its head on its way to becoming a key player in the EV “premium lifestyle” market.
The news of the Lotus SUV arrives as the final Lotus internal combustion-engined vehicle – the Emira, check it out here – rolls off the production line alongside the Evija all-electric hypercar in Hethel, UK. And the new manufacturing plant in Wuhan will have the capacity to ramp up production to 150,000 vehicles a year as it prepares for sales increases off the back of the Lotus Eletre ‘Type 132’ unveiled today, Type 133, and Type 134 and Type 135 sportscar.
Just like MG, we predict that you’ll be seeing a lot more Lotus cars on the road, but they won’t look like anything you remember. Managing Director of Lotus Group, Matt Windle (former Principal Engineer for Tesla Motors 2005-2012) calls the Eletre “A momentous point in our history” and when you look at what the future might hold for the brand he’s probably right. Let’s take a closer look.
What is the Lotus Eletre?
So what do we have with the Lotus Eletre then? Well, the headline power and performance figures are as you would expect from a vehicle that’s going toe to toe with the likes of the Tesla Model X. You’re looking at power figures starting at 600HP from a 100kWh battery, a slippery design with real vents (although no drag coefficient has been stated) and even a pop-out LIDAR system that will likely lead the way for the brands new ‘track-level intelligent drive’ said to make the average driver “perform as well as an F1 driver on track,” we’ll have to see how that translates to driver feedback and engagement.
Charging times from a 350kW charger will be as low as 20mins for 400km of range and the maximum WLTP driving range is 600km. The ability to accept 22kw AC charging (the kind you might have at home) is also accepted. In essence, all the boxes are ticked if you’re cross-shopping a modern EV.
|Lotus Eletre Performance|
|0-100km/h||less than 3-seconds|
|Max range (WLTP)||600km/373 miles|
On the inside of the vehicle, the Tesla theme continues with a lack of traditional instrument clusters. Instead, a thin 30mm strip of information gives you driving information such as speed and other journey information. In the centre of the cabin lies your usual giant 15.1-inch OLED touchscreen that folds flat when not in use (a particularly strange feature). Augmented reality displays are standard for the driver through the HUD.
At this point, you’re probably waiting for us to tell you the steering wheel has been cut in half too, but thankfully that’s been left round and it’s a favourite highlight of ours. Just behind the round steering wheel is the 2,160-watt 23-speaker KEF sound system that’s sure to make you forget the lack of exhaust notes immediately. Most features (95%) are controlled through the touchscreen in under three touches. If the exterior is a mash between Kia EV6 and Lamborghini Urus, then the interior is basically just a Tesla Model X but make it stylish.
The vehicle introduces a lot of firsts for the brand, including;
- First five-door production car.
- First model outside the sports car segment.
- First lifestyle EV.
As such, there’s a lot of convincing going on when it comes to the Eletre, especially in statements to automotive media. Only a few weeks ago did we watch the gorgeous Emira sportscar grace the rolling hills in a feature Top Gear unveiling, but there’s just no convincing us (at least until we drive it) that the Eletre will carry across any of that DNA no matter how many times the brand wants to mention its appeal to “independent-minded and adventurous driving enthusiasts,” as Qingfeng Feng, Group Lotus CEO, puts it.
In our mind, there’s just no tiptoeing around the fact Geely is moving the brand into a whole new automotive segment and that the Emira was anything but a tip-of-the-hat send-off to everything we know and love about the Lotus cars of old. If the Eletre is the basis for the future of Lotus cars they’ll have no trouble reaching their manufacturing targets of 150,000 vehicles (we’ve seen first-hand how successful Chinese-owned brands have been in the Australian car market), but drawing comparisons between the two are hardly parallel. The word Eletre might mean ‘coming to life’ in Hungarian, but we’ll reserve judgement on that until we drive it.
The Lotus Eletre is on sale now across markets globally and the first customer deliveries will start in China in 2023 followed by UK and then the rest of Europe. For more information check out the link below.
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