Lotus has unveiled the Eletre (pronounced el-etra), a purely electric vehicle which marks a number of firsts for the company, including its first SUV, its first five-door car, its first vehicle that is not a sports car and the first Lotus since the 1960s not to be built at its Hethel factory in Norfolk.
Formerly named the Type 132, the name Eletre is derived from the Hungarian phrase “életre kel”, which roughly means “come to life”, an apt moniker as the plug-in SUV marks a new chapter for the company; one that takes place at least partly in China, where the Eletre will be built in a factory owned by Lotus’ parent company, Geely.
“The Eletre is a bold and groundbreaking new car, delivering on our commitment to bring Lotus into entirely new automotive segments as we expand our appeal and accessibility globally,” said Matt Windle, CEO of Lotus Cars.
“This is a pivotal moment in our history and a clear signal of our continued desire to transform our business. It’s a real Lotus, and we’re confident it will delight performance car customers and offer a distinct alternative to established players in the segment.
Exterior design influenced by the Evija hypercar
At first glance, the design fundamentals are similar to other performance SUVs – long wheelbase, short overhangs and a floating black roofline.
Take a closer look though and the Eletre, for all its more upright stance, shares some design cues (particularly aero) with the company’s new sporty models, the Evija and Emiraand its philosophy is described by its designers as “porous” and “air-sculpted”.
Air channeled under the car at its leading edge is forced out through the bonnet vents, for example, while several such air channels exist behind the front and rear wheels and at the top of the D-pillar, echoing the Evija electric hypercar. Another aerodynamic concession is the grille whose shutters remain closed to reduce drag unless the battery, powertrain or brakes require additional cooling.
Backing up along the side of the car, past the slender matrix LED headlights, the charging port is located in the front fender, while instead of conventional exterior mirrors the Eletre gets camera modules which, in addition to providing a rear view for the driver, also house part of the 360-degree parking camera system and another sensor which is part of the suite of advanced driver assistance and safety functions of the car.
The door handles are flush with the body and the whole car sits on alloy wheels which can be optional up to 23 inches in diameter.
The rear of the Eletre features a full-length light bar which, when parked, can appear in four colors, both as part of a theatrical unlock sequence and to indicate battery charge level – handy for drivers looking out the window of a highway cafe waiting for their car to be recharged, for example.
The interior design echoes the sharp, bold and angular styling of the exterior, particularly the triangular design elements of the front grille.
It’s not a cluttered layout, with just a narrow ribbon of information in front of the driver and a large (15.1-inch) foldable central touchscreen eliminating most knobs and buttons, although some analogue switches remain.
A head-up display can also be offered as an option to provide more information to the driver. The ribbon strip is repeated on the passenger side, relaying different messages such as music selection or nearby points of interest.
The standard stereo is a 15-speaker system from British premium brand Kef, which was also chosen for the Emira. Buyers can upgrade to a 23-speaker Kef setup if they prefer.
Interior materials consist of a wool blend fabric for the seats (claimed to be 50% lighter than leather) and carbon fiber which has been machined to a more mottled finish than traditional carbon fiber weave.
Since the Eletre uses light detection and ranging (lidar) sensors rather than radar and cameras to provide the basis for its advanced driver assistance systems, Lotus says the technology is at the proof of rapid technological advances and can be updated “over the air”. .
Although the company says the lidar system “supports end-to-end autonomous driving technology”, there is no indication yet that the Eletre will go beyond Level 2 autonomous driving capability with technologies present, including adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist and lane. help with change.
The Eletre’s battery has a capacity of “100+kWh” and, as with Teslas, is mounted like a skateboard under the cabin floor, keeping the center of gravity as low as possible. The bespoke Lotus-developed underpinnings are currently not shared with other vehicles under the Geely umbrella.
The battery powers the front and rear electric motors which together produce around 600 hp or more, and the range between charges is around 373 miles.
With its new 800 volt charging architecture, the Eletre should be able to add 248 miles of range in 20 minutes when using a 350kW fast charger (rare in the UK today but will become more common ).
All figures are provisional, because the Eletre has not finished testing.
Lotus Director of Product Attributes and Integrity Gavan Kershaw said:
“Dynamically, the Eletre has been developed to deliver everything you expect from a Lotus: exceptional ride and handling, highly communicative steering and exceptional driver engagement. Performance-wise, we know the world is watching, so there’s been an obsession to make everything perfect.
In Windle’s words: “The Eletre has the soul of a Lotus and the driveability of an SUV.”
We’ll see if that’s true after the Eletre goes into production later this year. The first customer deliveries are expected in 2023.