Update: ‘Designed in the UK’ and ‘Variants & Performance’ sections updated.
The first Lotus SUV will be all-electric and arrive later this year. The company says it will be an E-segment SUV (executive SUV) and suggests that a coupe version will follow in 2023. Internally, the first Lotus SUV goes by ‘Lotus Type 132.’ First teasers showed slim L-shaped headlamps as a common design feature to new Lotus family of EVs.
Given its positioning, the Lotus 132 will compete with 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, and the iX M60. Interested customers can register their interest online on the Lotus Cars website.
Strict weight targets
A report from Autocar last year shared the initial details about the car. The Lotus electric SUV would have the lightest body in its class, Peter Horbury, the former Executive Vice President of Design at Geely Auto Group, had suggested in 2017. Geely Auto Group, a Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Company, holds a majority stake in Lotus since 2017. To achieve the exceptionally low weight targets, Lotus is putting extra effort into material usage. The Tesla Model X Performance weighs 5,741 lbs. or 2.6 tonnes (2,604 kg), and the Chinese-owned British brand could be targeting a figure closer to 4,409 lbs. or 2 tonnes.
Lotus says that its EVs will be based on a new ‘Premium Architecture’ that was announced in April 2021. The company says that Premium Architecture supports EVs from C+ to E segments, with models having a wheelbase of 2,889 mm and 3,100 mm.
Designed in the UK
Lotus Tech Creative Centre Limited (LTCC), the renamed Geely design studio in Warwickshire, UK, is leading the design work of the Lotus Type 132. The Warwickshire-based Lotus design team is responsible for the brand’s all-electric lifestyle cars. It is safe to assume that LTCC will work on the design of the Type 133 (four-door coupe), Type 134 (mid-size SUV), and Type 135 (sports car), too.
Before the LTCC announcement, Matt Windle, MD of Group Lotus, has confirmed to Autocar UK that the Lotus Type 132 will sport a British design. Windle said that designing and some of the early development and the attribute setting took place in the United Kingdom. The remaining development could take place in China. Windle suggested that the Chinese-made lifestyle Lotus models should be just as good as the brand’s UK-built sports cars. We have covered more details about the Chinese production of the Type 132 SUV in the manufacturing section.
The Lotus Type 132 SUV will feature active grille shutters for enhanced aerodynamic efficiency. The shutters will close off the grille when not necessary to reduce air resistance. The grille features hexagons made up of triangles that appear to close and open as required. Given that the Type 132 would be a pure electric vehicle, expect its grille to remain closed at most times during normal driving. You can watch the dual-function grille in action in the video below:
Video Source: YouTube/Lotus Cars
At the rear, the Lotus 132 will feature an active spoiler that automatically elevates when needed and lowers to its resting position afterward. The teaser video below gives a glimpse of this active aerodynamics feature:
Video Source: YouTube/Lotus Cars
A spy picture of an alleged prototype has shown an unusually long tail section, hinting at a coupe-like styling similar to the Tesla Model Y and the Nio EC6. Another spy picture has partially exposed the interior. This image has shown features like compact three-spoke steering with a flattened bottom, a hexagonal digital instrument cluster, a large, tilted central display in a portrait orientation, and a floor console that joins the dashboard. The design of the floor console didn’t seem fully ready, though. You can view these images on d1ev.com.
Ground breaking features for a Lotus
Lotus understands that Chinese customers are more into tech than typical Lotus customers in other markets, and it’s developing the interior that meet those expectations. Techies will be able to immerse themselves in the tech while driving enthusiasts would be able to stay completely focused on the core essentials.
The Lotus Type 132 will feature a LiDAR sensor that aids various driver-assist functions and enhances the EV’s active safety capabilities. The high-end electric SUV could have LiDAR as standard, just like the Volvo Recharge Concept-derived upcoming rival (could be the Volvo Embla) with Luminar’s technology.
According to a report from British magazine CAR, 5G connectivity will be standard in the Type 132, enabling ultra-fast OTA updates. Lotus would typically expect customers to be driving enthusiasts, but with this SUV, it is a new world. Chinese SUV customers want to relax in their car and love the futuristic autonomous driving tech, and most high-end brands into electric SUVs are responding to that need. Lotus, too, would offer autonomous driving functions, and 5G connectivity is crucial to the proper functioning of V2X (vehicle-to-everything) communications and precision positioning.
Variants & Performance
Lotus EVs will be capable of accelerating from 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in under three seconds. They will come with 92-120 kWh battery packs operating at 800 volts, to offer long-range and ultra-fast-charging. According to the Autocar report, Lotus plans to offer its first electric SUV in two variants. The base variant would have two electric motors generating close to 600 hp. The top-end variant’s motors would produce up to 750 hp, and their torque output would also be higher. Lotus is targeting a range of 360 miles.
The Lotus Type 132 will have a double-wishbone suspension at both ends, as per the report from CAR. Brake-based torque vectoring and air suspension will be standard features. Active anti-roll control, carbon-ceramic brakes, and rear-wheel steering would be available optionally at launch, and active torque vectoring could become available later, suggests the report. Novice drivers will be able to unleash their Type 132’s capability with the help of an assist called ‘track-level intelligent drive.’
Competitors & Release Date
Lotus has confirmed that it will unveil the Type 132 SUV this spring. Highly focused on performance, Lotus won’t pitch the Type 132 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 won’t have many competitors, and the company will position it as a higher model (compared to the few competitors that exist). It will be a driver’s car, unlike typical made-for-China models that focus on the rear-seat passengers.
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.
With three SUV models in the pipeline, all in segments with specifications that would strike the chord with American car buyers, the timing looks right for Lotus to enter the U.S. market. Only time will tell if that happens, though.
According to a report from Financial Associated Press, Lotus will manufacture the EV at its new factory in Wuhan, China, starting in the fourth quarter (October-December 2022). 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.
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 will enter production this spring as the brand’s last petrol-powered model. From there on, it’s a zero-emission future for the British automotive brand.
Peter Horbury joins Group Lotus
Peter Horbury, Executive Vice President of Design, Geely, last year joined Group Lotus as its Senior Vice President of Design. At Geely, Horbury oversaw the development of two brands: Geely Auto and Lynk & Co. Prior to that, he was Volvo Cars’ design chief and turned the Swedish brand’s boxy cars into sleek and desirable models. At Group Lotus, the veteran designer will likely shape all-electric Lotus models, including the Lotus SUVs, in the years to come.
Lotus SUV FAQs
What is the Lotus Type 132 release date?
Lotus will unveil the Type 132 this Spring and put it on sale later this year.
Will Lotus launch its new electric SUVs in the U.S.?
Lotus has not announced its U.S. entry yet, but it is too big a market for EVs for the company not to consider.
What will be the Lotus 132 range?
The Lotus electric SUV will likely travel up to 360 miles on a full charge.
Featured Image Source: Lotus