Lotus on Tuesday revealed its first SUV. Yes, the company famous for lightweight sports cars has expanded into vehicles normally found at the grocery store instead of at the track. The move is necessary to boost Lotus' financial health, and the profits generated should lead to new and better sports cars.
The new SUV, previously referred to by its code name Type 132, goes by the name Eletre, and it enters production later this year at a new plant in Wuhan, China. Yes, the arrival of the Eletre also marks the expansion of Lotus' production footprint outside of the U.K.
The Eletre is based on a modular EV platform called Electric Premium Architecture (previously Evolution), and it's a lot bigger than you might expect. Measuring in at 200.9 inches, the Eletre is longer than a Range Rover and close in length to some full-size luxury sedans. Lotus hasn't said how much the Eletre weighs, but we imagine it will be on the heavy side, even with the use of aluminum and carbon fiber in the construction.
Despite its size, the Eletre promises some stunning performance. According to Lotus, power outputs will start from 600 hp, and at least one variant will be able to sprint from 0-60 mph in less than three seconds. The top speed is claimed at 161 mph. Drive comes from a motor at each axle and together they form an all-wheel-drive system. Each motor is integrated with a controller and a reducer, a design said to save space and weight.
Lotus is holding back full details until closer to the market launch but the battery capacity is confirmed at over 100 kilowatt-hours, or enough for a range of over 300 miles. Charging at up 350 kilowatts will be possible, which Lotus said will enable close to 250 miles of range to be added in just 20 minutes.
Beyond the electric powertrain, the Eletre benefits from Lotus' chassis know-how. This has resulted in a sport-tuned suspension with a five-link setup at the rear, air suspension and adjustable dampers at each corner, active anti-roll bars, brake-based torque vectoring, and four-wheel steering. There are also four drive modes (Range, Tour, Sport and Off-Road) that adjust the steering, damper settings, powertrain and accelerator pedal response.
As for the design, Lotus said the inspiration came from its latest sports cars, though aerodynamics also played a role. This is especially true for the lower front fascia which sports a grille with active shutters that open when the motors, battery pack, and brakes require cooling. Lidar sensors for planned driver-assist features are mounted in the body and extend when needed, while at the rear are two winglet-like elements that stretch out from the vehicle to aid downforce. Camera stalks have replaced the side mirrors, though conventional mirrors will be used in markets where regulations require them.
Inside, the conventional instrument cluster has been replaced by thin band that spans the width of the dash, and includes an integrated display for the driver and another for the front-seat passenger. Interrupting the center of the brand is a 15.1-inch display that serves as the infotainment hub. A head-up display with augmented reality is also featured. Buyers will be able to choose between four- and five-seat configurations for the cabin.
As mentioned above, production will take place in China, which is expected to be the biggest market for the Electre, though we can imagine many buyers in the U.S. cozying up to one. Deliveries in China and Europe start in 2023 but availability and timing for the U.S. are yet to be announced. Lotus will also build a smaller crossover (Type 134) and a four-door coupe (Type 133) in China, starting in 2025 and 2023, respectively, while production of sports cars will remain at the company's home in Hethel, U.K. The current sports car lineup includes the Emira and Evija, and a new electric sports car (Type 135) will join the party in 2026. The electric sports car will be twinned with a similar model from France's Alpine.