Four Lotus EVs Two SUVs, 4dr coupé, sports car
Four new Lotus EVs by 2026. Two SUVs and a four-door coupé from China to precede Hethel-built sports car.
Lotus has outlined plans to launch four new series-production electric cars by 2026. Production of the new models will be split between Lotus’s long-time home in Hethel, Norfolk, and a £900 million plant in Wuhan, China.
That site will be the home of Lotus Technology, a new division dedicated exclusively to the manufacturing of EVs. Three Chinese-built Lotus EVs will arrive in the next five years: following the Type 132 E-segment SUV will be the Type 133 four-door coupé in 2023 and the Type 134 D-segment SUV in 2024. The Type 135 sports car, developed in partnership with Alpine (whose version will replace the A110), will be made at Hethel from 2026. The Wuhan factory will open later this year, with the Lotus Technology headquarters set for completion in 2024. Covering an area of more than one million square metres, it will have an eventual capacity of 150,000 cars per year – 15 times more than Lotus’s British production line.
Notably, Lotus says, it will be the first factory in the world with an “integrated intelligent test track”. Cars will drive themselves into workshops with no human intervention and can be driven at speeds of up to 140mph on the 16-corner circuit.
Both the new Emira sports car – the firm’s last petrol-powered model – and the Evija electric hypercar will be built in Hethel, with Lotus emphasising its commitment to retaining a UK outfit responsible for “co-ordinating global sales for the Lotus brand”. Aside from the Type 135, Lotus’s new EVs will be based on the Geely-owned firm’s Premium architecture, one of four EV platforms it detailed earlier this year. Designed for “premium lifestyle” vehicles, it supports cars with wheelbases ranging from 2889mm to 3100mm (Lotus says this will encompass cars from the C+ to E segments), and this could be extended in the future. It can also accommodate batteries ranging from 92kWh to 120kWh in capacity and is equipped with 800V charging functionality, meaning Lotus EVs will be capable of using the quickest rapid chargers currently on the market.
Precise performance details of all models remain under wraps, but Lotus claims that each will be capable of accelerating from 0-62mph in less than 3.0sec. The pioneering Type 132 SUV, as revealed last year by DrivesToday, has been in development since 2016. Two variants are expected from launch, offering between 600bhp and 750bhp and both with four-wheel drive.
No range figures have emerged yet, but given that the 2.5-tonne Audi E-tron Sportback manages 241 miles from a 95kWh battery pack, a range approaching 300 miles could be possible from the Type 132 if it stays true to Lotus’s lightweight ethos. A new partnership has also been revealed between Lotus and Chinese EV manufacturer Nio. Li Bin, the founder and CEO of Nio, has made an unspecified investment into Lotus Technology. Lotus says this paves the way for both parties to potentially “explore opportunities for mutually beneficial industrial co-operation”.
The four-wheel-drive SUV will offer up to 750bhp and could manage a range approaching 300 miles
Lotus EV range: the five-year plan kicks off with the 2000bhp Evija hypercar and concludes with a sports car collaboration with Alpine. Wuhan site will be much bigger than Hethel HQ.
HORBURY TO LEAD DESIGN AT LOTUS
Geely Design chief Peter Horbury, who previously worked at Ford and Volvo, is to become Lotus’s design boss.
The 72-year-old Brit, who won DrivesToday’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020, has worked for the Chinese conglomerate since 2011 and will now move within the group to become senior vice-president of Lotus design. His role will include oversight of Lotus Cars and the growing Lotus Engineering consultancy, which works for third-party clients. Incumbent Lotus design director Russell Carr, who led the team behind the warmly received Emira, will continue in his role. Horbury’s remit will also include the Ben Payneled Lotus design studio in Coventry, which is set to do much of the work on the wave of new models. While Lotus’s planned electric SUV duo and four-door coupé will be made in China, the company says that all design will be led from the UK.
“I first visited Hethel just after Lotus was acquired in 2017; I have been watching closely as the new plans have developed,” Horbury (pictured) told DrivesToday. Stefan Sielaff, who resigned from his role as Bentley’s design director in January, is reported to be taking Horbury’s old role as head of Geely Design.
First Lotus SUV will be a rival to Audi’s E-tron Sportback.