Lotus takes the wraps off the world’s first electric hyper-SUV
03 April 2022
Lotus has unveiled the all-electric Eletre, described as ‘a striking and progressive hyper-SUV’ signalling the ‘first of a new breed of pure electric SUVs’ from the storied carmaker. The Eletre will be built in China and underpins the Geely-owned company’s plans to extend the reach of the brand as well as transforming traditional perceptions.
Widely associated with motorsport and the production of sportscars, the Eletre will be Lotus’ first five-door vehicle, its first model outside sportscar segments, and the first lifestyle electric vehicle (EV) produced by the company, to be followed by three new Lotus lifestyle EVs in next four years.
The Eletre will possess a battery capacity of over 100kW and turn out over 600bhp on an all-wheel-drive platform. Predicted range is slated at 248 miles (400km) with a 350kW charger, and Lotus claims a 0-62mph time will be reached in under three seconds.
In 2020, Lotus established a research and development facility in Wuhan, China and it is here that the Eletre will be built. In conjunction with teams in China, the Lotus tech-innovation centre, located in Raunheim, Germany, focuses on component integration, durability testing, certification, and homologation as well as a team in Gothenburg, Sweden, working on the car’s EV-management systems.
‘The Eletre is a bold and revolutionary new car, delivering on our commitment to move Lotus into completely new automotive segments as we widen our global appeal and accessibility,’ commented Matt Windle, managing director, Lotus Cars. ‘This is a momentous point in our history and a clear signal of our ongoing desire to transform our business. It is a true Lotus, and we’re confident it will delight performance car customers and offer a distinct alternative to the segment’s established players. The Eletre has the soul of a Lotus and the usability of an SUV.’
Keeping the ‘E’ in Lotus
To some motoring purists, a five-door, all-electric car labelled with the iconic Lotus badge may sit uncomfortably. For decades, Lotus road cars have stirred automotive emotions akin to those triggered by the likes of Porsche, Ferrari and Lamborghini, with cars such as the Elan, the Europa, the Esprit, the Elise, the Exige, as well as being synonymous with multiple Formula One race and championship wins.
Lotus has stated that the Eletre takes its cues from the recently released all-electric Emira, integrating the ‘heart and soul’ of Lotus’ inaugural electric sportscar, and stresses that ‘the company’s famed expertise in the fields of ride and handling, steering and optimised aerodynamics have been carefully and respectfully evolved.’
‘The Eletre is a new performance car from an iconic performance-car brand and it will appeal to independent-minded and adventurous driving enthusiasts – those who love the thrill of driving,’ stated Qingfeng Feng, CEO, Group Lotus. ‘It is a unique combination of beautiful design, exceptional dynamic performance and everyday usability, for those who dare to look beyond the conventional, and marks a turning point for our business and brand.’
One thing that is conventional to Lotus both past and present is the carmaker’s philosophy of making vehicles as light as possible, whether they be destined for the road or the racetrack, as too is the angular styling of the front end, and the low-slung aspect of the car. The Eletre has also been designed to echo the brand’s more familiar mid-engined sportscars of yesteryear, featuring evocative elements such as a long wheelbase and a cantilevered carbon-fibre ‘floating’ split roof spoiler, echoing a motorsport-inspired design.
Following the lead of many car manufacturers, Lotus has embraced sustainability with the Eletre, using man-made microfibres. The advanced wool-blend fabric on the seats is 50% lighter than traditional leather, allowing for further weight savings. The hard materials are carbon fibre, though rather than use the traditional ‘weave’ most often associated with automotive design, Lotus has recycled the fibres trimmed from the edge of the weave. These have been reconstructed into a new matting, then compressed in a resin to create the car’s premium marble-like finish.
‘The Eletre is a progressive all-electric performance vehicle embodying emotion, intelligence and prestige and, as the first of the brand’s lifestyle cars, it sets the standard for what will follow,’ said lead designer Ben Payne. ‘We have taken the iconic design language of the Lotus sports car and successfully evolved it into an elegant and exotic hyper-SUV.’