Car News

Lotus Eletre EV Debuts as Sports Car Company's First SUV

For the first time in its history, Lotus Cars has built an SUV. The Lotus Eletre has just debuted as a 600-hp long-range fully electric crossover. The British brand has a 74-year history, but until now has built only sports and racing cars.

Lotus calls it a "hyper SUV," and brands it "the first of a new breed of pure electric SUVs." The company sounds confident that it can take its expertise and history and turn these new EVs into models for a new generation of powertrain and buyers.

Especially in bright yellow paint, it's easy to think Lamborghini Urus when you look at the Eletre. Change the lighting, though, and it takes on a look of its own. Close in spirit to the Lotus Evija, the Eletre has supercar styling cues.

Expected to use a platform from Geely stablemates Volvo and Polestar, the Lotus Eletre instead uses what the automaker calls all-new bones. The new platform uses aluminum and carbon fibre as well as steel and is meant to underpin a wide range of Lotus models in multiple sizes, shapes, and with varying powertrains.

A new 800V electrical architecture powers compact electric motors. With motors at each axle, at least 600 hp is on tap for the Eletre. Combine that with a sub-three-second zero-to-100 km/h time and a 260-km/h expected top speed for an idea of the SUV's performance.

With more than 100 kWh capacity in the battery, Lotus says it is going for a targeted driving range of 600 km on the generous European testing cycle. Using 350-kW fast charging could add 400 km of range in just 22 minutes, and the Eletre is fitted with 22-kW AC home charging as standard, if your home charger can support that quicker level of charge.

“Dynamically, the Eletre has been developed to deliver everything you would expect from a Lotus," says Gavan Kershaw, Director, Attributes and Product Integrity. While the battery pack adds significant weight (Lotus is still targeting a 2,000-kg curb weight), Kershaw says that the in-floor pack helps handling by keeping the weight centralized.

Every Eletre will come with air suspension and variable damping to help manage the vehicle's weight. Active ride height, rear steering, active roll bars, and torque vectoring will all be optional. For maximum effect and braking power, 23-inch wheels and ceramic brakes will be optional in all markets.

A built-in LiDAR sensor system powers driver assistance features, including adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assistance, and more. The company said that the system supports over-the-air updates, making it "future-proofed" and able to offer autonomous driving tech when that feature is available down the road.

The Lotus Eletre is on sale now, Lotus says. Assembly of the EV starts later this year at a new plant in China, and deliveries in that country and Europe are set to start next year. Canadian pricing and timing haven't yet been announced.