Lotus aims at Tesla Model X with new electric SUV
UK automaker expands beyond sports cars in bid to match Porsche's success in SUV
Lotus will launch a full-electric SUV next year as it seeks to match the way that Porsche significantly boosted its profits by adding SUVs to its sports-car lineup.
The Lotus SUV will be a rival in size to the Tesla Model X. It will be the first of four new electric models from the automaker in the next five years, Lotus said in a statement on Tuesday.
The SUV, codenamed Type 132, will be followed by a large electric sedan in 2023 and a midsize electric SUV in 2025. A previously announced sports car developed with Renault’s Alpine brand will arrive in 2026.
The new models, except the sports car, will be built in a new factory in Wuhan, China, which will eventually have a capacity to build 150,000 vehicles a year.
Lotus will continue to build sports cars at its Hethel plant in Norfolk, England.
Lotus is expanding its lineup beyond niche sports cars under its new Chinese owners, Geely Holding Group, which bought a majority stake in the storied but money-losing company in 2017.
The company has said it has been looking at Porsche’s mix of SUVs and sports cars as its inspiration to create a viable business.
The SUVs and sedan will be built on Lotus’s Premium EV architecture, known internally as Evolution. The platform allows for large batteries sized between 92-120 kilowatt hours, as well as incorporating 800-volt high speed charging.
Lotus promised that the highest performance versions will accelerate from 0 to 100 kph (62 mph) in less than three seconds.
Lotus hopes that Porsche’s successful move into SUVs with the Cayenne and Macan will convince fans of its lightweight sports cars that the brand can expand into much heavier segments.
CEO Matt Windle said in April that models underpinned by the Premium architecture will be among the best cars to drive and the lightest cars in itheir segments.
Lotus has created a subsidiary in China called Lotus Technology to build the non-sports cars and also “to accelerate innovation” in areas such as batteries, energy management and electric motors, the company said.
The subsidiary will receive investment from Nio founder Li Bin, (also known as William Li). The two companies hinted at possible technology tie-ups in the future.
“Both parties may explore opportunities for mutually beneficial industrial cooperation,” Lotus said in the statement.
The new models are in addition to the Evija full-electric hypercar and the Emira, the last gasoline-powered sports car from Lotus. Deliveries of both models start next year.