Update: ‘Design’ section updated with info on the Lidar and coolant heater.
Wraps are off the much-awaited Lotus Eletre SUV, and it evokes many emotions. Lotus says the Eletre takes the ‘heart and soul’ of the Emira and the aerodynamic performance of the Evija electric hypercar. Hence, the brand calls the Eletre a ‘hyper-SUV.’ It’s a milestone moment for the brand as the Eletre, which means ‘coming to life’ in eastern European languages, is its first-ever SUV.
Here’s everything we know about the Lotus Eletre as of June 2022:
Lotus Tech Creative Centre Limited (LTCC), the renamed Geely design studio in Warwickshire, UK, led the design work of the Lotus Eletre. It is safe to assume that LTCC will also work on the design of the Type 133 (four-door coupe), Type 134 (mid-size SUV), and Type 135 (electric sports car), too. Back to the Eletre, the design is reminiscent of the Lamborghini Urus, especially from the front three quarter angle (refer to the main image). The Urus has changed the fortunes of Lamborghini, and Lotus certainly is experimenting with a similar design strategy.
Active front grille
The front of the Lotus Eletre is like a sports car, featuring a low and short hood with aero work, a sizeable active air intake at the bottom, and a muscular bumper. Upfront, there are ultra-slim ‘technical light clusters’ that house DRLs and turn indicators. The matrix headlamps are positioned below and seem to be hidden. One needs a keen eye to spot them at first glance. Lower down, the active grille with the triangular pattern remains closed when the EV is stationary or when the system senses a need to reduce drag while driving. When required, they open up to cool the battery, front brakes, and electric motors.
LIDAR for autonomous driving functions & camera-based mirrors
On the sides, the Lotus Eletre sports strong shoulders and a sleek glass area. It has camera-based virtual mirrors with advantages like reduced vehicle width, drag, and wind noise. The door handles, embedded flush into the doors, also contribute to the aerodynamics and give the SUV a sophisticated styling. At the rear, the Eletre flaunts a highly raked windscreen, a concave surface, a slim full-width tail light, a split rear spoiler, and a hexagonal license plate area.
Up top, LIDAR modules, one at the front and one at the rear, pop out when the ignition is turned on. LIDAR modules are present on the sides as well and remain hidden when not in use. Lotus says that the Eletre is fitted with regular mirrors in markets where local regulations do not allow virtual mirrors.
In an announcement on May 24, 2022, Webasto revealed it is the company supplying the retractable roof sensor module of the Eletre. In addition to the LIDAR sensor, Webasto’s system integrates sensor availability tech into the roof in an attractive way. The company’s German sites in Stockdorf, Hengersberg, Augsburg, and Gilching, and Chinese sites in Shanghai and Wuhan jointly developed the module.
Another solution Lotus has sourced from Webasto is an 800-volt coolant heater. The Eletre is the world’s first pure electric car to be series-produced with this feature. With an output of 10 kW, Webasto’s 800-volt coolant heater is the most powerful passenger car unit on the market.
What’s more, there’s generous use of carbon fiber on the Eletre. There’s carbon fiber on the bonnet, on the wheel arches, and on the rearview cameras, to name a few. However, the weight-saving measures would only drop the scales marginally as the Eletre is inherently heavy given its 100+ kWh battery. Lastly, the model showcased rides on massive 23-inch wheels with carbon inserts, which is an optional feature. We expect lower variants to run on higher-profile tires.
Interior & Features
Lotus collaborated with Danish textile company Kvadrat for the interior of the Eletre. There’s generous use of durable hand-crafted micro-fibers and wool-blend fabrics in the interior. Hard touchpoints are covered in carbon fiber, and Lotus has also used recycled fiber in certain places. However, like on most new cars, digital real estate is the highlight of the new EV.
For starters, there is no traditional digital cluster. Instead, the Eletre has the ‘ribbon of technology,’ a ribbon-sized screen less than 30 mm high, displaying crucial vehicle information to the driver and the co-driver. Between the two ribbons sits a 15.1-inch landscape-oriented OLED infotainment screen which automatically folds flat when not in use. Additionally, an augmented reality heads-up display will be standard on the Lotus Eletre.
What’s admirable is that Lotus hasn’t conferred physical buttons to the history books like many other brands. Certain functions like door lock/unlock, front and rear defoggers, gear selection, and hazard lamps can be controlled with physical buttons. The steering also houses buttons for cruise control and navigating through the ‘ribbon’ screen. There are paddles behind the steering to control different levels of brake energy regeneration.
Lotus says that Panoramic glass sunroof is an optional feature in markets outside China.
Groundbreaking features for a Lotus
Lotus understands that Chinese customers are more into tech than typical Lotus buyers in other markets, and it’s developing the interior that meets those expectations. Techies will be able to immerse themselves in the tech while driving enthusiasts would be able to stay focused entirely on the core essentials.
LIDAR & 5G capability
The Lotus Eletre features a LIDAR sensor that aids various driver-assist functions and enhances the EV’s active safety capabilities. The electric SUV has LIDAR, just like the Volvo Recharge Concept-derived upcoming rival (could be the Volvo Embla) with Luminar’s technology. The LIDAR system enables many advanced driver assistance systems like adaptive cruise control, traffic sign information, cross-traffic alert, collision mitigation, lane change/keep assist, and many other features. The Eletre will be ready for Level 4 autonomous driving by the time it goes on sale.
5G connectivity will be standard in the Lotus Eletre, enabling ultra-fast OTA updates. 5G connectivity is crucial to the proper functioning of V2X (vehicle-to-everything) communications and precision positioning.
The Lotus brand has traditionally been popular for its driver-focused cars. It’s an irony that Lotus is taking the attention away from the driver with technologies like LIDAR. But provided that the Eletre will be sold in markets like China and Europe where there’s an increasing focus on autonomous driving, Lotus has decided to play with the rules and not against them, even if it means shifting its core focus.
Lotus Eletre Specifications
Lotus says that its EV is be based on a new ‘Electric Premium Architecture’ (EPA) which it announced in April 2021. This platform supports C+ to E+ segment EVs having a wheelbase of 2,889-3,100 mm and a range of different battery sizes, motors, component layouts, and advanced driving technologies. The Chinese media reported that the platform is related to the Geely SEA open-source architecture underpinning the Zeekr 001, Smart #1, and the upcoming Volvo urban SUV.
The headline figures are truly impressive, at least on paper. The Eletre’s 800-volt architecture would allow charging its 100+ kWh battery for 248 miles of range in just 20 minutes using a 350 kW DC fast charger. The targeted WLTP range is 373 miles (600 km). The SUV has dual electric motors, one motor on each axle, which makes it an AWD model. Lotus says power will be north of 600 hp, and 0-62 mph time is claimed to be under 3 seconds, which is outrageously quick for a full-sized SUV that tips scale over 2 tonnes. The top speed is limited to 260 kmph.
|Lotus Eletre specifications||Value|
|Length (in. / mm)||200.9 / 5103|
|Width with rear view cameras (in. / mm)||84 / 2135|
|Width with rear view mirrors (in. / mm)||87.8 / 2231|
|Height (in. / mm)||64.1 / 1630|
|Wheelbase (in. / mm)||119 / 3019|
|Wheel size (in./mm)||23 / 584|
|Motor||Dual motor AWD|
|Range (WLTP target)||373 miles (600 km)|
|0-62 mph||sub-3 seconds|
|Top speed||161 mph (260 kmph)|
The Lotus Eletre has a five-link rear suspension. Brake-based torque vectoring, adaptive air suspension, active anti-roll bars, carbon-ceramic brakes, and rear-wheel steering will be available optionally at launch. Dynamic torque vectoring will also be available. The EV comes with five drive modes: Range, Tour, Sport, Off-road, and Individual, which adjust the steering, suspension, motor, and pedal response.
Lotus Eletre Competitors
Highly focused on performance, Lotus won’t pitch the Lotus Eletre as a direct rival to any existing electric SUV. “We will not benchmark any competitors,” Lotus Technology CMO Qingyan told Autohome in an interview at the 2021 Guangzhou Auto Show. He said that the upcoming electric SUV wouldn’t have many competitors, and the company will position it as a higher model (compared to the few competitors that exist). Unlike typical made-for-China models that focus on the rear-seat passengers, it will be a driver’s car.
Given its positioning, the Lotus Eletre will appeal to the customers of the Tesla Model X, BMW iX, and Mercedes EQE SUV. As Lotus is a performance brand, the main targets should be potential Model X Plaid, EQE-AMG SUV, and the iX M60. Interested customers can register their interest online on the Lotus Cars website.
Qingyan suggested that the company will need to make a lot of marketing efforts ahead of the EV blitz. In main overseas markets like the EU countries, the UK, and China, it will likely need to construct new company-owned showrooms and an online ordering system, launch new brand campaigns, and prepare for a higher level of after-sales service needs or standards.
Production & Release Date
Customer deliveries of the Lotus Eletre will begin in China, Europe, and the UK in 2023. Reservations are open now on Lotus official website at EUR 2,500.
Lotus Eletre in the U.S.
Lotus has scheduled the Eletre U.S. launch in 2023. It will likely become a more popular brand in America with the Eletre and future launches in the performance SUV and four-door segments. When asked about the perception of Lotus in the States at the Eletre world premiere, 2009 Formula 1 champion and Lotus fan Jenson Button said that Americans love Lotus. The company is upgrading its showrooms globally to match its new brand identity. Its American showroom, Lotus Dallas, operated by Earth Motorcars in Texas, will undergo changes as part of the exercise this year.
A lot of love. I’ve got an Evora GT at the moment, and I get a lot of love. But yeah, they’re gonna go mad for this (Eletre), they really are. And what I really love about it is you can tell they’re all from the same family: the Eletre, the Emira, and the Evija.Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button at the Lotus Eletre world premiere on March 29, 2022
Lotus will manufacture the Eletre at its new factory in Wuhan, China, starting in the fourth quarter (October-December 2022). CarNewsChina also reported on February 17, 2022, that production trials of the Lotus SUV would begin in the fourth quarter of 2022 in Hannan District of Wuhan city.
Thanks to Chinese production and sourcing, prices should be more attractive than that of global rivals. Lotus is locating its new global headquarters in Wuhan and held a breaking-ground ceremony in August 2021. It plans to open the new Lotus factory to manufacture Lotus EVs for global markets shortly, and the new Lotus Technology headquarters in 2024.
Lotus embracing an all-electric future
As Lotus prepares for the transition to EVs, it’s drawing the curtain on its gasoline-powered models. The company has ended production of the Elise (1996-2021), Evora (2009-2021), and Exige (2000-2021). It manufactured 51,738 units of the 3Es over the course of 26 years – 35,124 Elises, 10,497 Exiges, and 6,117 Evoras. That’s almost half the total cars it has produced in its 73-year history. These cars sat on the same platform which Tesla borrowed for its original Roadster (2,515 units made from 2007 to 2012).
The Lotus Emira unveiled in July 2021 has recently entered production as the brand’s last petrol-powered model. From here on, it’s a zero-emission future for the British automotive brand.
“We need to make money,” says Lotus MD
Lotus boss Matt Windle spoke to Top Gear on April 4, 2022, reiterating the brand’s focus on sales volumes. Windle told Top Gear that Lotus plans to become a serious global car manufacturer by selling a large number of EVs, with the sales journey expected to be spearheaded by the Eletre SUV. It’s a fact that SUVs can bring huge profits—the Lamborghini Urus is a fine example, and so is the Porsche Cayenne.
Windle states that for Lotus sports cars to be around forever, the company needs to generate revenue. In 2021, Lotus sold 1,710 cars, a fraction of what the big players sell, and yet it was the best sales year since 2011. Lotus has struggled with sales in the past, but now with parent company Geely’s backing and all-new EVs like the Eletre, Type 133, Type 134, along with the combustion-engined Emira, the brand has the potential to forge its path towards commercial success.
Lotus Technology IPO
A Lotus Technology IPO is under consideration, and roadshows to understand investor interest for the same are underway, as per an Autocar report from February 2022. As per the British publication, Lotus Cars has notified investors that it plans to increase annual sales to 100,000 vehicles by 2028, and 90,000 would be electric SUVs and electric sedans made by Lotus Technology. The Lotus Technology IPO could take place within two years, but a decision regarding the location (stock exchange) is still pending. The Chinese investor community has signaled a “strong” yes to the move, a company spokesman said.
Lotus Eletre FAQs
What is the Lotus Eletre release date & price?
The Lotus Eletre will hit the U.S. market in 2023. Prices are expected to start north of USD 100,000.
Which models will be Lotus Eletre rivals?
What will be the Lotus Eletre range?
The Lotus electric SUV will travel 373 miles (Lotus target specification) on a full charge.
Featured Image Source: Lotus