"The world's first pure electric Hyper-SUV" is how Lotus has chosen to describe what purists likely see as the complete opposite of the Norfolk brand's ethos. Company founder Colin Chapman was all about "simplify, then add lightness," but it's 2022 and automakers need to adapt to customer tastes in order to survive. Consequently, we are about to meet the first production SUV from Lotus, an all-electric model at that.
It's not the brand's first EV as that role has already been attributed to the Evija hypercar, but the Eletre is the firm’s "first lifestyle electric vehicle." It's technically not the first four-door Lotus considering the early 1990s brought us the twin-turbo, inline-six Vauxhall Carlton / Opel Omega with a top speed of 177 mph (285 km/h) thanks to 377 bhp.
The world premiere scheduled for today will take place at the Tower of London, but the Eletre won't actually be built in the UK. Instead, the SUV is going to be assembled in China at a new factory that parent company Geely has constructed in Wuhan (yes, that Wuhan). Pronounced "El-etra," the high-riding Lotus gets its name from "coming to life" in some Eastern European language.
It will ride on a newly developed Lotus Premium architecture tailored to vehicles with a wheelbase measuring from 2,889 to 3,100 millimetres (113.7 to 122 inches). These underpinnings have been engineered for batteries with a capacity varying from 92 to 120 kWh, complete with 800-volt, fast-charging support. The quickest EVs of the bunch will do 0 to 60 mph (96 km/h) in less than three seconds.
It is widely believed the Lotus on stilts will get two electric motors good for a combined output of 600 to 750 bhp. It's unclear whether there are plans for a lesser configuration with a single electric motor driving the rear wheels. Such a version would shave off weight for what everyone is expecting to be the heaviest production car from the fabled British brand.
Lotus has previously announced the "Type 132" electric SUV will do battle in the E-segment, meaning it’s going to fight the Porsche Cayenne. Come 2023, a similarly sized four-door coupe known as “Type 133” will take on the Panamera, while a smaller "Type 134" crossover is due in 2024 to rival the Macan. All three newcomers will be sold strictly as EVs since the Emira will go down in history as the firm’s final ICE-powered car. In 2026, the "Type 135" will arrive as a new electric sports car co-developed with Renault's performance sub-brand Alpine.
While the "Lotus" name is exclusively associated with sports cars, the three practical models coming before 2025 will help the brand become more profitable than ever before. As Porsche has done with the Cayenne and Macan, the potential success of SUVs will help fund the development of sports cars that will stay true to the brand's heritage.
Join us for the world premiere scheduled to start at 6:30 PM GMT / 2:30 PM Eastern from London.