Sunday, May 22, 2022

The Lotus Eletre is an electric SUV with hints of hypercar

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British sports car maker Lotus is jumping on the electric car with the unveiling of the Eletre, a plug-in crossover SUV with a design language inspired by the carmaker’s Evija hypercar. The Eletre will also be the first of three new EVs that Lotus plans to roll out over the next four years, including a sports car (natch), a coupe sedan and another SUV.

Formerly called the Type 132, the Eletre is the Geely automaker’s second electric vehicle and will feature futuristic components such as camera-only side mirrors and a lidar sensor mounted to the front and rear of the roof.

As befits its sports car heritage, Lotus emphasizes the performance potential of its new electric SUV. The Eletre will be able to sprint from 0-100km/h in under three seconds, with Lotus claiming a spot in the “exclusive ‘Two Second Club'” which also includes the Tesla Model S Plaid (under very specific conditions, mind you) .

But just because it can tear up on the track doesn’t mean the Eletre isn’t built like an SUV. With four-wheel drive, the five-door EV will be fairly compact, but it will still pack a lot of power, including a battery capacity of over 100 kWh and 600 horsepower.

Lotus says a 350 kW charger will deliver 400 km (248 miles) of range in just 20 minutes. The car’s target maximum WLTP range is 600 km (373 miles). It also comes standard with the option to accept 22 kW AC charging, which, if available, will reduce the connected time.

In terms of design, the Eletre has an aggressive, forward-leaning nose and a jagged, coupe-like roofline. Lotus designers clearly draw on their experience building sleek sports cars. The proportions are undeniably SUV-esque, though.

Lotus boasts that the Eletre delivers many ‘firsts’ for the brand, including the first five-door production car, the first non-sports car model, the first lifestyle EV and the most ‘connected’ Lotus ever. It will also be the company’s first car to be built in China, where the parent company is located.

The Eletre will be built on Lotus’ new Electric Premium Architecture, a low-to-the-ground “skateboard” design that is flexible for different battery sizes, engines, component layouts and “smart” driving technologies. For the Eletre, Lotus claims it will include “end-to-end autonomous driving technology” and over-the-air software update capabilities. The platform will form the basis for a range of premium performance EVs from Lotus.

With ‘end-to-end autonomous driving’, Lotus actually refers to self-parking. The company says that “a customer can use their smartphone app to ask their Eletre to autonomously drive up to them from a nearby parking lot, then park autonomously again once the journey is complete.” More advanced autonomous driving will be added later via OTA updates, the company says. The EV will also have 5G connectivity.

The Eletre comes with a range of advanced driver assistance features from the alphabet: Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC); Collision Mitigation Support Front (CMSF); Traffic Sign Information (TSI); Door open warning (DOW); Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA); Front Cross Traffic Alert (FCTA); Lane Change Assist (LCA); Child presence detection (CPD); Lane Keeping Aid with Lane Departure Warning/Prevention (LKA+); Parking emergency brake (PEB); Rear Collision Mitigation Support (CMSR); and Emergency Rescue Call (E-Call). However, the Eletre will likely require driver supervision at all times.

Geely bought a majority stake in Lotus in 2017 and over the past decade the Chinese group has added everything from Volvo to an electric vertical take-off and landing company to its portfolio. Even before the debut of the Eletre, the company had already built a reputation for: breathing new life into old brandsas it did with Volvo or the Swedish carmaker’s Polestar brand.

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