Lotus unveiled their all-electric Eletre as the brand’s first SUV. The high-performance, luxury crossover also marks the beginning of the company reinventing itself as an electric-only performance car brand offering a variety of models – rather than just sports cars, for which it is traditionally famous for. The Eletre is the first of four new EVs set to arrive by 2025 from the British carmaker.
Takes styling cues from the Lotus Emira and Lotus Evija
Boasts of a 600hp powertrain with a maximum range of 600km
Will be built in Wuhan, China
The Eletre, which translates to ‘coming to life’ in Hungarian, will be offered in three forms with different performance and specification figures, but will have four-wheel drive as standard.
2023 Lotus Eletre: design
The Eletre was designed at the Lotus Technology Creative Centre (LTCC) in Coventry, England – the brand’s new design office for its ‘lifestyle cars’. Its sports cars will still be designed at Lotus' headquarters in Hethel, UK. The design is very striking and has elements that are inspired by the Lotus Evija and Emira.
It has a cab-forward stance, a long wheelbase and very short front and rear overhangs. The compact bonnet echoes styling cues from Lotus’ historic mid-engined layout.
LTCC boss Ben Payne, who led the Eletre’s design, said, “We have tried to push the nose forward and have a very short hood and a very sharp nose, all of which helps make the product look longer, lower and sleeker than it really is.”
Several elements are inspired from other Lotus cars, like the sharp edges at the front, which look very similar to the Lotus Evija and Emira. The glass canopy on the top of the body is reminiscent to the Evija, according to Payne.
A crucial aerodynamic feature of the design, according to the carmaker, is ‘porosity’ – how the air flows through the car as well as under, over and around it, allowing for less resistance while aiding efficiency for range, speed and performance.
Like in the Emira and Evija, air is channelled under the leading edge, emerging through two vents on the bonnet. Other places where one can see this are behind the front wheel arches, behind the rear wheels and atop the D-pillar.
At the rear, the SUV features a full-length ribbon light, which curves into the air outlets from the wheel arches – another similarity between the Emira and Evija. The light is red when the car is moving, but it can also appear orange or green, depending on the battery charge.
“It’s about utilising the technology, and asking ourselves: ‘Can we make two functions of one light?’”, said Payne.
A carbon fibre, three-stage deployable, split, roof-mounted spoiler is neatly integrated into the rear, which is intended to evoke race car winglets. The central part is absent to save weight – one of the several ways Lotus has tried to shed weight.
Other weight-saving design examples include placing the charging port on the front wing to ensure incoming electricity is as close as possible to where it is required, cutting down on unnecessary internal cabling and the extra weight it entails.
The only design element that will not make it to the road-going version from this near-production car is the lines on the door handles. Lotus will also offer 22-inch wheels along with the 23-inch ones seen in the pictures.
2023 Lotus Eletre: interior and technology
On the inside, the Eletre is decidedly tech-heavy. The highlight of the cabin is the 15.1-inch landscape-oriented touchscreen infotainment system, which folds flat when not required. According to Lotus, the new infotainment system is designed to “set new standards in automotive world”.
The dashboard is split into two and mimics the design of the split spoiler at the rear. Below it, there is a blade of light running the full width of the dashboard. It can change colours to communicate with occupants – for instance, it will flash if a phone call is received. Below that is what Lotus calls ‘ribbon of technology’, consisting of three separate screens. Instead of a traditional instrument cluster, there is a 30mm strip on either side of the dashboard that displays key vehicle information. The third screen is the aforementioned infotainment display.
Although everything can be controlled digitally or through voice commands, certain key functions, such as heating, have analogue dials.
A camera in the dashboard senses where the driver is looking and adjusts the screen brightness accordingly. For instance, the screens connected to the door ‘mirror’ cameras are at 50 percent brightness until the driver looks at them to avoid any unnecessary distraction.
A dedicated smartphone app, 5G data compatibility and over-the-air software updates are also offered. The driver-centric cockpit and a high centre console are inspired from the Emira and Evija, and are intended to be ‘visually lightweight’.
Lotus uses a sustainable material called Kvadrat on some touchpoints, and a wool-blend fabric on the seats that is 50 percent lighter than traditional leather.
The SUV will have a five-seat bench layout, including a split, folding rear bench – except for China, where it will come with a four-seat layout.
2023 Lotus Eletre: under the skin
The Eletre’s platform is all-new and created by Lotus. Called the Electric Premium Architecture (EPA), the skateboard-style design is easily adaptable not only to different sizes of car, but also to different battery sizes, electric motors, component layouts and intelligent driving technologies.
Confirmed technical figures are not yet available, but Lotus said the target is a top speed of 260kph and a sub-3.0sec time for the 0-100kph sprint. Every Eletre will have a battery capacity higher than 100kWh and power upwards of 600hp. Maximum range is 600km and a full recharge will be possible in 18 minutes from a 350kW charger.
Air suspension, active aerodynamics and active ride height will be standard, while options will include active dampers, active rear-axle steering and torque vectoring via an electronic limited-slip differential.
Lotus said every Eletre will come “with exceptional dynamics, outstanding comfort and true Lotus performance”.
The Eletre will be built at the new Lotus site in Wuhan, China.