Daily drivers and eco-commuters are no longer the only ones benefiting from the electric revolution. Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche have already begun to add electric vehicles to their portfolios, while Lamborghini and Ferrari expect their first electric vehicles to arrive in the next several years. Lotus, a British automaker, said on Tuesday that it, too, has an electric vehicle, the 600HP Eletre, with deliveries starting next year in China, Europe, and the United Kingdom.
According to the company’s news release, the Eletre “reinterprets the heart and soul of the latest Lotus sports car – the Emira – and the breakthrough aero performance of the all-electric Evija hypercar, and reinterprets them as a Hyper-SUV.” The automobile also achieves a number of firsts, according to the press release: “first five-door production car, the first model outside sports car segments, the first lifestyle EV, the most ‘connected’ Lotus ever.”
Lotus’ 800V Electric Premium Architecture (EPA) platform was used to create the Eletre. That voltage puts it on pace with the Audi e-Tron and Hyundai Ioniq 5, allowing drivers to add about 248 miles of range in 20 minutes using a 350 kW DC fast charger, according to the firm. Lotus hasn’t said how big the battery will be, only that it “has a battery capacity that’s over 100 kWh,” but it expects a total range of 373 miles, which is comparable to the Tesla Model X Long Range Plus. Its dual front and rear motors will supposedly produce 600 horsepower, with a top speed of 161 MPH and a 0-60 time of less than three seconds.
The Eletre’s exterior design was overseen by Ben Payne, and it includes “porous” aerodynamics, a low stance atop the platform’s large wheelbase, and short overhangs at both ends. “The Eletre is a progressive all-electric performance vehicle embodying emotion, intelligence and prestige and, as the first of the brand’s lifestyle cars, it sets the standard for what will follow,” he said. “We have taken the iconic design language of the Lotus sports car and successfully evolved it into an elegant and exotic Hyper-SUV.”
The interior will include a fixed panoramic sunroof and either a typical two-buckets-and-a-bench layout or an optional four individual seats, front and back. The cabin’s materials follow Lotus’ net-zero aspirations, with “durable man-made microfibres on the primary touchpoints, and an advanced wool-blend fabric on the seats,” while the hard sections are produced from small amounts of carbon fibre recycled from weave edges rather than being made specifically.
The infotainment system is a complete package. According to Tuesday’s announcement, “Below the instrument panel a blade of light runs across the cabin, sitting in a ribbed channel that widens at each end to create the air vents.” This light blade functions as part of the vehicle’s HMI, changing colour to notify occupants of crucial events such as incoming calls.
A 30mm tall “ribbon of technology” sits beneath that. That ribbon serves as the instrument cluster on the driver’s side, displaying vehicle and trip information, which may also be presented via the normal AR system. A second ribbon on the passenger side displays contextual information such as nearby areas of interest or the current music selection, which is played through a KEF Premium 1,380-watt 15-speaker surround sound system with Uni-QTM.
A 15.1-inch OLED touchscreen infotainment system lies between these two ribbons and folds away when not in use. While the majority of the cabin controls are digital and can be accessed via the touchscreen or voice commands, Lotus decided that some functions were important enough to be duplicated to physical knobs and switches, so drivers won’t have to search through submenus to activate the windshield wipers. Even with such digital controls, Lotus claims that “with three touches of the main screen users can access 95 percent of the car’s functionality.”
The Eletre is also the first vehicle with a deployable LIDAR array on the market. When in use, the unit pops up from the top of the windscreen, top of the back glass, and the front wheel arches — just like the headlights from a 1990 MX-5 — and then retracts when completed to maintain aerodynamics.
“ADAS technologies such as LIDAR sensors and cameras will become increasingly common on new cars as we move into a more autonomous era, and to have the world’s first deployable LIDAR system on the Eletre is a signal of the technology vision we have for Lotus,” said Maximilian Szwaj, Lotus Technology Vice President and Managing Director, LTIC. “This car has tech for today, and also for tomorrow, as it’s been developed to accept OTA updates as standard.”
Lotus’ new production site in Wuhan, China, will begin production later this year, with deliveries beginning in 2023. The model will first be sold in China, Europe, and the United Kingdom. The company has yet to reveal price information.
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