Given that Lotus founder Colin Chapman built cars following the “simplify, then add lightness,” principle, enthusiasts still frown at the idea of the British brand introducing an all-electric SUV. However, Lotus is determined to prove them wrong starting later today, when the company is set to unveil the 2023 Eletre. The machine, which the carmaker calls “the world’s first pure electric Hyper-SUV” has now leaked on social media, exposing its sleek exterior design and airy interior.
The leaked photos of the performance electric SUV, which will enter the E-segment (think: Audi E-tron Sportback, or, to name combustion rivals, Lamborghini Urus or Aston Martin DBX), appear to perfectly follow the details we’ve seen in the patent images that surfaced via IP Australia earlier this month, which is why we trust them—you’ll find both in the gallery below.
The leak, which came to Instagram via cochespias, a Spanish page that handles this sort of media, fully showcases the exterior, as well as giving us one shot of the cabin.
Overall, the styling looks as dynamic as possible for such a generously-sized vehicle, while following the carmaker’s current design standards, which have been showcased by the new Emira sports car and the Evija hypercar, which is Lotus’ first production EV—the posterior bears striking resemblance to the latter.
The roofline is seriously raked, the door mirrors are replaced by cameras, and the side is heavily sculpted. Beyond the obvious visual effect, these details should deliver a respectable aerodynamic coefficient, which is crucial for improving an EV’s driving range.
Lotus has also gifted its SUV with active aero, coming in the form of the front grille.
As for the interior, the British brand is expected to make the most out of the available space—given the said design, it will be interesting to see how Lotus maximized headroom, especially since the batteries should be held in the floor, as is the case with most electric vehicles.
At least on a visual level, the cabin looks roomy and mixes the large central infotainment screen with a more performance-oriented, sleek display sitting in front of the driver. Note that the latter may be able to change its shape.
How the Lotus Eletre designers concealed the size of the vehicle and the main specs
In addition to the details delivered by the patent images, we can now notice how the two-tone finish of the Eletre, with black lower and upper sections and a colored middle part, disguise the vehicle’s size. A similar effect is achieved by the two-side appearance of the C-pillar (yes, the vehicle does appear to come with pillarless doors).
Underneath the sleek shapes of the Eletre, we find the Lotus Premium architecture prepared for vehicles with a wheelbase between 2,889 and 3,100 millimeters (113.7 and 122 inches).
The platform can accommodate batteries with a capacity ranging from 92 to 120 kWh, with the vehicle using an 800V infrastructure that allows for fast charging.
The Lotus SUV is expected to sport at least two electric motors delivering an overall output of between 600 and 750 hp, while a single-motor RWD version and perhaps a more powerful tri-motor one may also be in the cards.
Following a period of financial unrest, Lotus was acquired by Chinese company Geely in 2017, which also owns Volvo and now-EV-dedicated brand Polestar. As such, the 2023 Eletre will be built in China at a new factory in Wuhan.
However, the world premiere of the high-riding Lotus is scheduled to take place later today at the Tower of London, with the Livestream set to kick off at 2:30 PM Eastern Time or 6:30 PM GMT.
Lotus’ EV roadmap
Using the “Type 132” internal code, the electric SUV will be followed by a battery-powered four-door coupe (Type 133) of similar length, while a more compact EV crossover (Type 134) will land in 2024. Two years later, Lotus is scheduled to introduce the Type 135 electric sports car which is being developed together with Renault’s performance sub-brand Alpine.
A release like the Lotus Eletre was inevitable for two main reasons. First of all, the global market share of SUVs continues to rise, with this having sat at 45% for 2021. Secondly, most major automakers have already released complex electrification plans, with some of these strategies including a 100% commitment to EVs by the end of the decade.
And while we’d love to see Lotus introducing more combustion-powered sports cars such as the 2022 Emira, this will be the end of the road for gas-powered models from Hethel.
So we can look for the silver lining here and expect the British automaker to apply its extremely solid engineering principles to give us an SUV that, beyond the tech innovation, manages to engage the driver while hauling the entire family.
Update: However, if we were to think of a more practical take on the current state of affairs in the car industry/tech industry, it does seem that the good ole idea of “they make these SUVs to pay for the really cool sports cars we love” idea, which has been around as long as most super-SUV themselves (two decades), doesn’t quite stand.
Returning to the late Colin Chapman, now that most engaging brands that have survived over the decades are no longer steered by their enthusiastic founders, return on investment does, arguably logically but perhaps not entirely correct, prevail over making cars that remain perfectly loyal to the original ethos of the company.
As we head into the electric era when carmakers strive to become technology companies in order to be more efficient and maximize profits, the said trend is being greatly accelerated.
By the way, as a productive distraction (what is your car staring at right now?), it’s massively entertaining to consider what “combustion”-origin automakers with their founders still in the driver’s seat (e.g. Koenigsegg, Pagani) can do to maintain the spirit of their marques with batteries taking over.
In the end, if you ask us, it’s more of a “they build the sports cars we dream of to be able to make these admittedly practical, mass-appeal money-makers in as larger numbers as possible”. So adapting to the new reality of enjoying a drive is perhaps something to put on your “OTA updates to one’s brain” list for this decade and especially beyond it.
Lotus Eletre Specs and Features Update:
Lotus is joining the SUV market with this, the all-new, all-electric Eletre. The name is apparently of Hungarian origin and means “coming to life.” It’s fantastic how such a fitting name for an EV just happens to exist and mean something cool. It’s no secret that Lotus is a brilliant engineering company but struggles to deliver mass-market vehicles, though this one already looks like a sure bet.
The proportions are best described as “low and long,” which is fitting considering the philosophy of the company, which we already talked about. The Lotus Eletre measures 201 inches from bumper to bumper (5,105 mm), which means it’s actually 7.1 inches or 179 mm longer than the current normal Porsche Cayenne SUV.
However, it’s about as low as normal cars at 64.2 inches (1,630 mm). Nestled inside its 118.9-inch (3,019 mm) wheelbase is a 100 kWh battery pack, built on a modern 800V architecture. If you can find a 350 kW charger, this is supposedly capable of fully charging in just 18 minutes.
It’s not lacking in power either. The first Elise that put Lotus on the map in 1995 made just 120 horsepower. It was a little toy compared to this mega-monster, which will deliver 592 hp (600 PS) in base form. Given the output, Lotus’ claims of 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in under 3 seconds seem conservative. However, an even more powerful model with 690 hp (700 PS) will later be added to the range.