Lotus jumps straight to all-electric for pure luxury
The Geely brand Lotus will rely on a purely electric drive instead of the originally announced hybrid drive for its first electrified SUV. The luxury car has been developed under the internal code name Lambda for market launch in 2022.
Autocar revealed the plans without naming sources. According to the report, the vehicle would have a range of at least 580 kilometres and an output of 550 kW. The electric SUV plans were already being developed under the former Lotus boss Jean-Marc Gales, at that time there was still an outcry among fans of the brand known for purist sports cars. Now, from 2022, the electric SUV may support the plans of the parent company Geely to “restoring Lotus into being a leading global luxury brand”.
The move to electric drive was already in the offing last summer. After the presentation of the electric hypercar Evija, Lotus CEO Phil Popham had hinted that the brand could skip all hybrids on the road to electrification. Popham said it was certainly an option at the time and that installing both drive technologies would put too much weight into a sports car. The CEO left it open whether he meant the two-seaters like the Evora and Elise or the SUV model.
The reason for the change to the pure e-drive system is the company’s affiliation with the Geely Group. Premium electric SUVs are in great demand in China, and the SEA platform announced in September provides a suitable electric basis for such a vehicle. With the SEA, Geely intends to build electric cars from the A to E segment and even light commercial vehicles for various brands. Lynk & Co will probably bring a big electric crossover with the 08, Volvo plans to build a small electric SUV below the XC40 with the XC20. At Polestar, the production version of the concept car Precept could be based on the SEA – Geely is planning a new China plant for Polestar.
As was announced at the presentation of the electric platform at the Auto China trade fair at the end of September, batteries with a capacity of up to 100 kWh and a range of up to 700 kilometres should be possible. The SEA will have two electric motors on each axle, four on the four-wheel-drive version and two on the rear-wheel-drive version. This was at least the key data for the Zero Concept from Lynk & Co. It seems possible that a vehicle in the A-segment based on SEA will have only one motor.
With the electric SUV, Lotus intends to significantly increase sales, which have been declining steadily over the last few years. Initially, sales are to more than triple from around 1,500 units to over 5,000 vehicles and then increase beyond that. It remains to be seen, where the electric SUV can be built. The Lotus plant in Hethel, England, is currently being modernised and is to be designed for up to 10,000 vehicles per year but it is primarily sports cars that are to be built in Hethel. Since Geely apparently wants to meet the demand in China and the USA, production in China also seems possible.
Here, Autocar specifically mentions the recently completed Geely plant in Wuhan. The factory is designed for 150,000 units per year and a large part of the capacity is intended for Geely vehicles for the domestic market. The news site says that “a special section” could be set up for the construction of the Lotus SUV. It is also possible that the Lotus SUV could be assembled at various Geely plants around the world, depending on demand.
With reporting by Sebastian Schaal
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