- the new lotus eletre is an all-wheel-drive ev suv with at least 600 hp.
- it has an 800-volt battery with more than 100.0-kwh of capacity and a claimed range that equates to about 315 miles using the epa cycle.
- the eletre will be built in wuhan, china and will reach the u.s. in 2024.
update 3/31/22: the 600-horsepower lotus eletre revealed this week will simply be the entry level model of lotus’ suv, with a 900-hp flagship model arriving in a couple of years, according to top gear. the top-of-the-line eletre will add a second 300 hp electric motor on the rear axle, dropping the 60 mph sprint time even further below the three second mark.
almost all street-legal lotus models have followed the same recipe for light, simple sports cars—with only a minority featuring more than two seats. so it’s no exaggeration to say that the freshly unveiled eletre is a revolutionary departure for the chinese-owned british brand: a high-performance electric suv.
anyone who expected the production eletre to be related to the existing volvo and polestar evs (all three brands are part of the geely group) has been proved wrong. the finished car sits on a lotus architecture which is more advanced than the underpinnings of any of its cousins, one that incorporates a new aluminum and high tensile steel structure and an 800-volt battery pack.
while there are many technical highlights to discuss, it is undoubtedly the eletre’s dramatic styling that made the biggest first impression when we got to see the show car at lotus’s design studio. this isn’t a far-out concept car, but rather what will soon become a purchasable model. it bears a strong resemblance to the lamborghini urus from both its front end and side profiles. that comparison holds true when it comes to dimensions too: although lotus doesn’t cite the lambo as either a benchmark or a competitor, the eletre’s 200.9 in length, 78.7 in width, 64.2 in height, and 118.9 in wheelbase are all within 0.7 inch of the corresponding urus figures.
yet closer inspection of the car in lotus’s coventry design studio reveals the eletre has a more complex form than the lamborghini. its sculpted shape features lots of what the styling team, led by former ford and volvo design boss peter horbury, describes as “porosity.” there are sizeable apertures in the fenders and flanks to ease the passage of air over and through its low-drag shape. “as colin chapman once put it, there’s nothing as light as a hole,” horbury said as he introduced c/d to the car.
the eletre also gets active aerodynamics, including a closing grille shutter and a three-position rear spoiler. the huge wheels you see here are 23-inch rims, which will be optional—we’re told that 22-inchers will be standard in most markets. the official images don’t show them in their deployed state, but the eletre also has lidar sensors which rise out of the bodywork and will allow eventual high-level autonomous operation: there is one at each end of the roof and two more that emerge from above the front wheel arches. lotus promises it will ultimately be possible to summon the eletre from a parking space, or return it to one, exclusively through a smartphone app.
other futuristic details include a camera-based side mirror system which will be offered in territories where this is permitted; conventional door mirrors will be standard in more technologically unadventurous markets including the u.s. the full-width light bar on the liftgate has the ability to change green or blue as well as red and orange. it will only use legally permitted colors for stop lights and turn signals when the car is moving, but it will also be able to display a multicolor animation when the car is unlocked and will also indicate the battery charge status.
the eletre’s cabin is where it feels most different from other lotus models, none of which have featured milled bronze metal rocker switches or a buttressed hollow center console with led backlighting. company insiders say that much of the interior has been designed with chinese tastes in mind—the eletre will be produced in a new factory in wuhan—and china will account for a substantial percentage of sales. yet the overall experience certainly feels upmarket, with a stitched leather and microfiber dashboard and sports seats trimmed in high-density wool blend fabric. as with many other futuristic evs, the eletre’s steering wheel is far from round, but it does also incorporate paddles; the right one toggles drive modes and the left switches between regeneration levels.
both four- and five-seat versions of the eletre will be offered, the latter having a single rear bench in place of the separate seats you see here. a full-length panoramic glass roof will be an option. it feels impressively light and spacious for both front and rear-seat occupants, the cab forward proportions allowed by the lack of a conventional engine.
the eletre’s user interface is new and, according to the design team, unrelated to the google-based system used by volvo and polestar. the studio car had a display system which demonstrated the crisp resolution of the huge 15.1-inch oled central touchscreen, but we weren't able to test its functionality. lotus promises it will be possible to access 95 percent of the car’s systems with three or fewer screen inputs. it will also get a head-up display with augmented reality overlays. an 800-watt, 15-speaker surround sound audio system will be standard, with a 23-speaker, 1500-watt system optional.
we will have to wait for full powertrain details, but lotus promises that even the least powerful eletre will have all-wheel drive and at least 600 hp. the company is being similarly reticent about the battery pack’s exact capacity, saying that it will have more than 100.0-kwh of storage. lotus claims it will sprint to 62 mph in under three seconds and top out at 161 mph. lotus says it is targeting a range of 373 miles under the european wltp testing protocol—that equates to roughly 315 miles according to the epa methodology in the u.s.—and that the eletre can replenish two-thirds of its battery in 20 minutes at a 350-kw fast charger.
adaptive dampers and an air suspension will be standard on all versions, the latter able to raise the ride height of the car by up to 2.0 inches for off-roading, and reduce it by 1.0 inch to improve stability at speed. other optional dynamic features will include carbon-ceramic brakes, rear-axle steering, and an active anti-roll bar—but we will need to wait until closer to the start of u.s. sales for detailed american specs.
several details are conspicuously missing from the early communications. the first is weight. while the company says that extensive use of aluminum and carbon fiber has reduced mass compared to a more conventional structure, we can still safely bet the eletre will be the beefiest lotus of all time: informed speculation suggests it will be around 5500 pounds. the other is price, which isn’t confirmed yet, but we’re told to expect proximity to the tesla model x—suggesting a starting point of around $120,000 when the eletre reaches the u.s. in 2024.
but one thing is already certain: lotus’s future looks very different to its past.
this story was originally published march 29, 2022.