Lotus on Monday confirmed the arrival of a new series of sports cars to replace the company's aging Elise, Exige and Evora models.
The first of the new sports cars, code-named the Type 131, will be revealed in prototype form later this year though production won't start until 2022. This means we're likely to see the car arrive as a 2023 model.
Production of the Elise, Exige and Evora will end during the course of 2021, Lotus said.
Lotus Hethel headquarters renovations
Lotus will invest 100 million British pounds (approximately $136.8 million) in its plant in Hethel, United Kingdom, to support production of the new series of sports cars, as well as the Evija battery-electric hypercar which starts production in 2021. The company will also hire around 250 new staff. This is in addition to the 670 staff added since 2017, when Geely and Malaysian company Etika acquired Lotus from previous owner DRB-Hicom.
The new sports cars are expected to be the last models based on Lotus' extruded and bonded aluminum platform that dates back to the original Elise launched in the mid-1990s. A test mule for the Type 131 wearing makeshift Evora body panels (shown below) has been spotted. As mentioned above, the first prototype will show up later this year.
The good news is that the sports cars are being developed for sale in the United States. Lotus CEO Phil Popham revealed in a January interview with Automotive News that the sports cars will have a wide price range to help boost their appeal, particularly in the U.S. He hinted at a starting price of about 55,000 British pounds and a top-end figure of about 105,000 British pounds. That translates to a range of about $75,000 to $143,000 at current exchange rates.
2023 Lotus Type 131 sports car test mule spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien
The sole Lotus currently sold in the U.S. is the Evora which starts at just under $100,000.
Not much is known about the new sports cars but some form of electrification, likely mild-hybrid technology, is expected to play a part.
Eventually, Lotus plans to go the full-electric route. In addition to the Evija, Lotus in January said it will jointly develop an electric sports car with France's Alpine. The company is also known to be working on an SUV that will most likely be based on a dedicated EV platform borrowed from Geely. The SUV will be built at a plant in Wuhan, China, with Lotus keeping its U.K. production for sports cars only.