The ongoing transformation of Lotus to a truly global performance car brand has reached its most significant milestone yet.
The all-new and all-electric Lotus Eletre is a striking and progressive Hyper-SUV – the first of a new breed of pure electric SUVs. It takes the core principles and Lotus DNA from more than 70 years of sports car design and engineering, evolving them into a desirable all-new lifestyle car for the next generation of Lotus customers.
The company’s famed expertise in the fields of ride and handling, steering and optimised aerodynamics have been carefully and respectfully evolved. The Eletre takes the heart and soul of the latest Lotus sports car – the Emira – and the revolutionary aero performance of the all-electric Evija hypercar, and reinterprets them as a Hyper-SUV.
Known until two days ago only by its Lotus codename, Type 132, the Eletre is a globally relevant product, a shining halo of sustainable mobility for a worldwide audience. Embodying emotion, intelligence and prestige, it extends the reach of the Lotus name, badge and renowned driver engagement to a new audience.
A bold new dimension to the Lotus performance car portfolio, the Eletre delivers a significant number of firsts for Lotus – the first five-door production car, the first model outside sports car segments, the first lifestyle EV, the most ‘connected’ Lotus ever. And yet it remains a true Lotus, a beautiful car ‘carved by air’, packed with pioneering technology, genuine sporting performance and simplicity of purpose, designed and developed by a passionate and global team. The Lotus Eletre is alive with character and personality.
The Eletre is 4WD, has a battery capacity that’s over 100kWh and with power from 600hp. A 350kW charger will deliver a 400km (248 miles) range in just 20 minutes. The car’s target maximum WLTP driving range is c.600km (c.373 miles). It also comes with the ability as standard to accept 22kW AC charging which, where available, reduces the time plugged in.
Technology includes the most advanced active aerodynamics package on any production SUV, and intelligent driving technologies such as the world’s first deployable Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) system in a production car. Add in a dynamic walk-up sequence that delivers a moment of theatre every time the driver approaches the car, and it’s clear the Eletre is making a simple statement – this is Lotus reinvented, the birth of a new icon into the Lotus stable.
Matt Windle, Managing Director, Lotus Cars, commented: “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. 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. Alongside the Emira sports car, this is the perfect two-car garage from Lotus.”
Qingfeng Feng, CEO, Group Lotus, added: “The Eletre, our Hyper-SUV, 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. 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.”
He added: “While the worldwide critical acclaim for the Emira has reaffirmed Lotus’ position as a respected sports car marque, the Eletre will make Lotus accessible to a whole new audience. It is a compelling alternative for those who desire a true driver’s car but whose lifestyle demands something more practical than a traditional sports car. And it is only the start for Lotus – there is much more to come.”
The Eletre is the first in a new range of premium lifestyle performance electric vehicles to be built at an all-new state-of-the-art production facility in Wuhan, China. The car has been ‘Born British, Raised Globally’, with design led by the UK, supported by collaborative work with teams in China, Sweden and Germany. The overall exterior and interior design has been led by an international team based at the Lotus Tech Creative Centre (LTCC) in Warwickshire, UK.
Peter Horbury, Senior Vice President, Executive Advisor, Design, Lotus, commented: “The Eletre is a rare creative opportunity in performance car design – the chance to start with a blank sheet of paper and develop an all-new vehicle that takes a brand in a completely fresh direction. There has been a close working relationship and much collaboration between the Lotus design studios in Warwickshire and Hethel. The result is a ‘Hyper-SUV’ that is genuinely different to what’s on the market; the electric powertrain has inspired a ‘cab-forward’ design that echoes the iconic mid-engined layout of Lotus sports cars, creating a unique look and position in the SUV segment. The arrival of the Eletre signals the start of a new era of pure electric SUVs.”
The Eletre is built on Lotus’ all-new and highly versatile Electric Premium Architecture (EPA). The low-to-the-ground design means outstanding handling, and the EPA can easily adapt to accommodate C+ to E+ vehicle class battery sizes, motors, component layouts and intelligent driving technologies.
The platform will be the basis for an all-new range of premium lifestyle performance electric vehicles from Lotus. Led by the Eletre, these cars will catapult Lotus into a new era of higher retail volumes and significant revenues.
The Lotus Eletre is on sale now across global markets, with first customer deliveries in 2023 starting in China, the UK and Europe.
The Lotus Eletre in detail
The Eletre is a new icon from Lotus. It is the latest in a long line of Lotus road cars whose name begins with the letter E, and means ‘Coming to Life’ in some Eastern European languages. It’s an appropriate link as the Eletre marks the start of a new chapter in the history of Lotus – the first accessible EV and the first SUV.
The immersive experience with the Lotus Eletre begins before the driver has reached the car. Pressing the button on the key or smartphone app activates a moment of theatre that’s unique in the automotive world. The car’s exterior lights run through a short sequence, the active front grille ‘breathes’ and the illuminated flush door handles deploy. The experience is repeated inside the car as the door closes behind the occupant.
Ben Payne, Head of Studio at LTCC, said: “This walk-up sequence is a ‘peacock moment’ – a little ‘showing-off’ that highlights the Eletre’s engaging personality. It’s a visual expression of a car coming to life, and a metaphor for the reinvention of the Lotus business and brand which begins with the Eletre.”
From the very earliest discussions about the car and its position at the heart of the Vision80-led transformation of Lotus, the Eletre was to be a showcase for how a Lotus can deliver performance-oriented driving thrills and refinement outside of the traditional sports car segments.
It is ‘Born British Raised Globally’ and that is more than a slogan. It has defined a rewarding collaborative process which has set the standard for the development and quality of the next generation of Lotus performance cars.
The fundamentals of what makes the Eletre a Lotus were established in Hethel, UK – the iconic home of Lotus since 1966. The global Lotus team worked together to deliver the strategic direction for the forthcoming range of Lotus lifestyle vehicles, plus the dynamic development, systems integration, aerodynamic optimisation and overall driver satisfaction of the Eletre.
A new Lotus research and development facility, established in China in 2020, utilises the market’s leading intelligent technologies and digital competencies to build the Eletre – and a new generation of electric high performance vehicles – at an all-new state-of-the-art manufacturing centre. Teams at Lotus Tech Innovation Centre (LTIC) in Raunheim, Germany, have assisted with component integration, durability testing, certification and homologation, with experts from the engineering team in Gothenburg, Sweden, working on the car’s EV management systems.
Exterior design: daring and dramatic
Design of the Lotus Eletre has been led by Ben Payne. His team has created a daring and dramatic new model with a cab-forward stance, long wheelbase and very short overhangs front and rear. Creative freedom comes from the absence of a petrol engine under the bonnet, while the short bonnet echoes the styling cues of Lotus’ iconic mid-engined layout. Overall, there’s a visual lightness to the car, creating the impression of a high-riding sports car rather than an SUV. The ‘carved by air’ design ethos which inspired the Evija and Emira is immediately obvious.
Ben commented: “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. We have taken the iconic design language of the Lotus sports car and successfully evolved it into an elegant and exotic Hyper-SUV.”
A signature element of the design is its ‘porosity’ – the aerodynamic principle of air flowing through the car as well as under, over and around it. Porosity was at the heart of the Evija’s design, is integral to the Emira, and has provided clear inspiration for the Eletre. It is most obvious where air is channelled under the leading edge of the car, emerging through two exit vents in the bonnet above. There are other examples of porosity ahead of and behind the front wheel arches, behind the rear wheels, and even at the top of the D-pillar. For the driver there are clear benefits to porosity – less resistance in cutting through the air, delivering a more efficient journey in terms of improved vehicle range, speed and performance.
At the front of the Eletre, the very sharp and crisp leading edge reveals a clear lineage with the Emira and Evija. It draws a distinct line across the very striking and contemporary design treatment below. There are further echoes of Evija in the layering of the surfaces, the creation of space and the optimised aerodynamic performance.
Just above the leading edge are the very slim and technical light clusters which house the Daytime Running Lights and scrolling directional indicators. The main lamps, which are available with matrix technology to permit constant high beam use without affecting oncoming traffic, are housed below, recessed and partially hidden.
Lower down is the Eletre’s active front grille, a network of interconnecting triangular petals that dominate the central section. Intricately designed, they 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 front brakes is required. It’s a further example of the car’s porosity and also offers aerodynamic benefits.
Overall there is a unique sense of flow and a kinetic quality to the Eletre’s front end, which also includes a deployable LIDAR sensor mounted at the top of the windscreen. All the black components are finished in carbon fibre while the body panels are aluminium. It is the bold leading edge of the Eletre’s bonnet which continues round into the front wing, wheel arch and ultimately the length of the vehicle as a feature line. The car’s taut and muscular lines are dominant above it, while the aerodynamic elements are below.
Moving round the car, its muscular haunches dominate the profile view. The air outlet immediately behind the front wheels defines the sculpted shape of the doors, each of which has a flush handle. The electrically opening cover for the charging port is fitted in the front wing, as are the deployable LIDAR sensors, one on each side and a world-first technology for the Eletre.
The aggressive rake of the windscreen is clearly visible in profile, with a relatively narrow, glass area – and black cantrail above – which tapers away dramatically at the rear. That leads into a unique floating D-pillar, engraved with the Eletre wordmark and featuring an innovative ‘air blade’ which aids drag reduction. Another example of porosity, it’s an aerodynamic performance enhancement taken directly from the front bumper of the Emira.
Each door mirror is replaced by an Electric Reverse Mirror Display (ERMD), which houses three different cameras1 – one for the rear-view mirror, a second to help create a 360-degree view of the car from above to aid parking, and a third that’s part of the intelligent driving technologies. It works in tandem with the Eletre’s LIDAR system to deliver autonomous driving capability. The car rides on 23-inch machine-cut split-finish five-spoke alloys with carbon fibre inserts to aid air flow and ceramic composite 10-piston caliper brakes2.
Moving to the rear, the full-width ribbon light strip picks up the feature line from the profile. Situated just above the Lotus wordmark, it is red when the car is moving and includes a scrolling directional indicator at each end, where it curves gently into the air outlets from the wheel arches – another design cue which echoes both the Emira and Evija. The light can appear in four colours, playing a role in the car’s theatrical unlocking sequence and indicating battery charge status.
The rear is dominated by the unique cantilevered carbon fibre ‘floating’ split roof 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 the LIDAR sensor to be integrated at the top of the glass. Optimised for exceptional aerodynamics, the roof spoiler channels airflow down the glass and into the active tailgate spoiler which is deployed automatically at speed. It has three distinct deployment angles, depending on the drive mode selected.
Interior design: a new level of premium for Lotus
The Eletre takes Lotus interiors to an unprecedented new level. The performance-oriented and technical design is visually lightweight, using ultra-premium materials to deliver an exceptional customer experience. Shown with four individual seats, this is available to customers alongside the more traditional five-seat layout. Above, a fixed panoramic glass sunroof3 adds to the bright and spacious feeling inside.
Sustainability has been a core focus of the design team, which has worked with leading supplier Kvadrat on material choices. The interior uses premium feel and highly durable man-made microfibres on the primary touchpoints, and an advanced wool-blend fabric on the seats. It 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 driver-focused cockpit and high centre console are inspired by the Lotus Emira and Evija, creating a cossetted feeling. The layering of materials and textures creates a truly premium feel, augmented by a triangular theme – seen externally on the car’s active front grille – replicated in multiple locations around the cabin.
The Lotus philosophy of light-weighting – removing material if it’s not needed – is clearly illustrated in the instrument panel. The floating wing’s central section has been taken out, echoing the design of the rear spoiler.
There is a wealth of practical storage space in the Eletre’s cabin. The centre console includes a storage tray with wireless charging for mobile phones, as well as twin cupholders of different sizes which sit flush to the surface until they’re needed. The beautifully sculpted door design includes storage that will take a litre bottle.
The smart design is continued in the rear of the car, with space in the doors and between the two chairs. There is a central draw at knee height and the armrest splits behind the two cupholders. It ends in an angled nine-inch touch-screen for infotainment, with a wireless charging tray beneath.
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