A Legendary Sports-Car Maker Goes Electric
Lotus, one of the world’s most storied traditional sports car brands, is in the midst of a huge transformation into an all-electric brand. The company put a stake in the ground in 2020 with the Evija, a 2,000-horsepower electric hypercar, and announced that the new Emira sports car will be its last internal-combustion vehicle. Now, with the launch of the Eletre SUV, the brand has reached its most significant milestone yet.
The all-electric Lotus Eletre is a striking and progressive hyper-SUV – the first of a whole line of electric powered vehicles from Lotus that stretch it beyond its comfort zone of two-seat sports cars. Still, it takes principles and DNA from Lotus’ 70 years of sports car engineering, creating a desirable all-new lifestyle car for the next generation of Lotus customers.
The Eletre delivers a significant number of firsts for the Lotus brand – it is the company’s first five-door production car, its first model outside sports car segments, its first lifestyle EV, and the most “connected” Lotus ever. And yet it is still a beautiful car that is packed with pioneering technology, electrifying (ha ha) performance, and should also deliver the famed ride and handling capabilities the company has become famous for.
600 HP and Electric All-Wheel Drive
The Eletre is all-wheel drive, with a battery capacity of over 100kWh and with power that from starts at 600 hp. On-board charging capability is excellent, as well. A 350kW charger will deliver up to 248 miles of range in just 20 minutes. The car’s target driving range is approximately 373 miles on the European testing cycle (expect its EPA estimated range to be a bit lower). Eletre also comes with the ability as standard to accept 22kW AC charging which, where available, means charging at home can happen twice as fast versus conventional EVs.
New technology is at the heart of the car’s suite of intelligent advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), many of which are designed to be future-proof so new features can be enabled via over-the-air (OTA) updates. Several features utilize the LIDAR system; its deployable sensors are hidden when not required, only emerging from the top of the windscreen, the top of the rear glass, and from the front wheel arches as required. The LIDAR system means the Eletre supports end-to-end autonomous driving technology and is future-proofed for further developments.
The Eletre has Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC); Collision Mitigation Support Front (CMSF); Traffic Sign Information (TSI); Door Open Warning (DOW); Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA); Front Cross Traffic Alert (FCTA); Lane Change Assist (LCA); Children Presence Detection (CPD); Lane Keep Aid with Lane Departure Warning / Prevention (LKA+); Parking Emergency Brake (PEB); Collision Mitigation Support Rear (CMSR); and Emergency Rescue Call (E-Call). There are i-Size child seat anchor points on the outboard rear seats.
All the tech results in a “hyper-SUV” that is genuinely different, and the start of a new era of pure electric SUVs. Eletre is built on an all-new and highly versatile Electric Premium Architecture (EPA). The low-to-the-ground design means great handling, and the platform can easily adapt to accommodate different vehicle and battery sizes, motors, component layouts and intelligent driving technologies.
The Eletre’s exterior design is the result of the creative freedom of having no giant gasoline engine to deal with. The front hood is short, reminding viewers of the mid-engine layout of Lotus’ sports cars. A signature element of the design is its “porosity” – air flows through the car as well as under, over and around it. There’s a huge air channel in the front of the car that leads to outlets in the hood above. There are also other porous areas ahead of and behind the front and rear wheels and even at the top of rear roof pillars. The design’s “porosity” delivers improved vehicle range, speed and performance.
The Eletre’s active front grille, a network of interconnecting triangular petals, remain closed when the car is at rest or when there’s a need to reduce drag during driving. They open in a distinctive pattern to feed air into the radiator, allowing the Eletre to ‘breathe’ when cooling of the electric motors, battery pack and brakes is required. It’s a further example of the car’s porosity and also offers aerodynamic benefits.
The rear is dominated by the unique carbon-fiber “floating” split spoiler, a motorsport-inspired design feature that evokes race car winglets. With the central section removed weight is saved – a very Lotus concept – and allows a LIDAR sensor to be integrated at the top of the glass.
Sustainable, High-Tech Interior
The Eletre’s performance-oriented design is visually lightweight, using premium materials, and is available in both four- and five-seat configurations. A fixed panoramic glass sunroof adds to the bright and spacious feeling. Sustainability is a key focus. The interior uses man-made microfibers on the primary touchpoints, and an advanced wool-blend fabric on the seats that is 50% lighter than traditional leather. The hard materials are carbon fiber, using recycled fibers reconstructed and compressed in a resin to create a premium marble-like finish.
Below the instrument panel, a blade of light runs across the cabin; it forms part of the human machine interface (HMI) and changes color to communicate with occupants, for example, if a phone call is received, if the cabin temperature is changed, or to reflect the vehicle’s battery charge status. Below the light is a “ribbon of technology” which provides the front seat occupants with information. The instrument cluster is now just a slim strip to communicate key vehicle information and is repeated on the passenger side. Between the two is the latest 15.1-inch OLED touch-screen which provides access to the car’s advanced infotainment system. It folds flat when not required. Information can also be displayed to the driver via a head-up display featuring augmented reality (AR) technology, which is standard equipment on the car.
On The Road in 2023
The Eletre is the first in a new range of electric vehicles to be built at an all-new state-of-the-art production facility by Lotus in Wuhan, China – the car has been “Born British, Raised Globally.” Order books are now open, with the first customer deliveries starting in 2023.