Colin Chapman’s sports-car company has identified its last petrol-powered model, with all cars thereafter to be fully-electric – including an SUV.
The upcoming 2021 Lotus Emira will be Lotus’ last petrol-powered vehicle, with the iconic British sports-car specialist confirming all future models will be all-electric.
Announced as part of its ‘Driving Tomorrow’ strategy conference on Tuesday night, Lotus announced its future model portfolio would centre around four all-new platforms developed by the British brand, though with assistance from the wider Geely automotive group (including Volvo) in Germany, Sweden and China.
The latter model will enter production later in 2021, Lotus has confirmed, with development claimed to be 80 per cent complete – the remaining 20 per cent comprising final ride, handling and sound tuning.
“It has Formula One accelerations but in a closed cockpit, so it’s like a little Group C racer but with the torque and instant delivery of all the power, all the torque and the very latest toolbox of electronic aids. You genuinely start to believe you can defy physics – it fires you around corners like a catapult,” said Gavan Kershaw, Lotus chief test driver.
A new ‘Evolution’ platform will form the basis of “an all-new range of lifestyle vehicles”, including one of the automotive industry’s worst-kept secrets: Lotus’s first SUV, rumoured to be badged Lambda.
It was previously thought the high-riding all-electric model would employ parent Geely’s Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA) platform, however Lotus has confirmed Evolution, like all of its new architectures, will be “exclusive to Lotus within the Geely group”, and has been “defined and designed in the UK.”
Rumours suggest the SUV – potentially codenamed Type 132, following the Emira’s Type 131 designation – could develop up to 560kW, from dual electric motors and a large battery pack.
Rounding out the quartet will be the E-Sports platform (not to be confused with competitive video gaming), developed as part of a wider partnership with Renault-owned French performance brand Alpine to collaborate on a new all-electric sports car, expected in 2025.
“The E-Sports architecture will be flexible and modular, and will generate an exciting new sports car icon for the Lotus brand, with contemporary styling, class-leading ride and handling, explosive performance and that unmistakable Lotus character – a pure dynamic experience that is ‘For The Drivers’,” said Lotus Cars managing director Matt Windle.
“I have challenged our teams to target the same weight [for the co-developed E-Sports sports car] as our latest combustion engine sports cars.”
While Evolution and E-Sports will initially be employed by Lotus (and Alpine, in the latter’s case), the British brand says they will be made available to other manufacturers through its Lotus Engineering consultancy.
All future Lotus vehicles will fall into a catchily-named, five-point ‘EAS-IP’ roadmap, which will see battery electrification and advanced driver technologies combined with the marque’s traditional focus on lightness and weight savings – or in founder Colin Chapman’s words, “simplify and add lightness”.
Helping to develop the sports-car maker’s upcoming models will be the full expertise of Chinese parent company Geely, with design and engineering teams in Sweden, Germany, the US and China to assist Lotus’ home base in Hethel, UK, where all of its sports cars are designed, engineered and built.
Lotus has also detailed a new sales and retail strategy, which will see a new brand identity rolled across its global showrooms, and the introduction of “multi-channel” retail strategies incorporating online sales and 360-degree video tours for the first time.
“It’s about offering a combination of online and offline retail experience. Looking, feeling, seeing, interacting and at the same time having the ability to do this 24 hours a day and maybe even conclude a transaction in the middle of the night, anywhere in the world,” said Geoff Dowding, Executive Director of Sales and Aftersales.
“New generations of buyer and different models of ownership are bringing about this change and fast, particularly in some of the newer markets for Lotus such as in China. It’s about layers of choice, over and above what we are offering today – in different markets, in different cities, in different stores.”
Stay tuned to CarAdvice for all the latest on Lotus’ future product portfolio, from the upcoming Emira to its maiden SUV.
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