Eletre EV SUV: yes, a Lotus with 4WD and off-road mode


The Eletre is Lotus’ first-ever SUV, its first high-production electric vehicle and its first vehicle manufactured outside the UK

Say hello to the Lotus Eletre. It’s something completely different from a brand that has spent the last 75 years building lightweight sports and racing cars.

“Eletre” means “come to life” in some Eastern European languages. Along with the Evija, Lotus’ $2 million electric hypercar, this is the company’s first all-electric offering. It will be built in Wuhan, China, at a factory owned by Lotus’ parent company, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group.

Eletre is the official name of the Type 132 concept. It’s an electric SUV that will come with some seriously impressive tech, especially for a company that called cruise control a luxury until just a few years ago.

Lotus started with an all-new EV platform for the Eletre. The company plans to use it to build an all-new line of cars and SUV. It wants to use that flexibility to expand beyond its boutique sports car roots.

Because the platform is expected to be used so widely, it is also flexible. It can support smaller and larger vehicles than the Eletre. The architecture will also allow Lotus to fit different electric drivetrains and batteries across the range.

Matt Windle, Managing Director of Lotus Cars, said:

The Eletre is a bold and revolutionary new car, delivering on our commitment to bring Lotus into entirely new automotive segments as we expand our global appeal and accessibility. This is a pivotal moment in our history and a clear signal of our continued commitment to transforming our business. It’s a real Lotus, and we’re confident it will delight performance car customers and offer a distinct alternative to established players in the segment. The Eletre has the soul of a Lotus and the friendliness of an SUV. Alongside the Emira sports car, it’s the perfect two-car garage from Lotus.

Range of 370 miles expected

(Photo/Lotus)

At launch, the Lotus Eletre will come with a battery that can store more than 100 kWh of charge. The large battery gives the Lotus an estimated range of 373 miles using the WLTP test. (Note that the European method returns higher numbers than the US-focused EPA test.)

The Eletre supports 350kW DC fast charging, which is about the fastest EV charging you can get today. Find an outlet that can pump out that much juice and you can add around 248 miles of range in 20 minutes. Plugged in at home, the Eletre supports 22kW AC charging, dramatically reducing home charging times compared to the 7.2kW typical of other EVs.

The Eletre comes with a pair of electric motors. With one mounted on each axle, Lotus says the engines offer all-wheel drive. But the company does not mention the low end, so this is probably a typical case EV all-wheel-drive system.

Lotus quotes the Eletre’s power as “from 600 horsepower”. That’s enough power to propel the vehicle to 100 km/h in less than 3 seconds. Lotus’ use of “de” makes us wonder exactly what the EV will offer on the road.

Height-adjustable Air Ride with off-road mode

Lotus Eletre
(Photo/Lotus)

Pneumatic suspension comes standard on the Eletre, with active suspension with Continuous Damping Control helping to keep the tires planted on the pavement. The system has the expected Sport modes, but Lotus says it will also have an Off-Road mode and the ability to raise the ride height.

Both of these should give the Lotus the ability to take you on rough roads and maybe even a trail. But the beautiful massive wheels and rubber-banded tires won’t help it off-road. “Off-road” and “Lotus” aren’t two words we thought we were saying in the same sentence, but neither are “SUV” and “Lotus”.

Lotus took a risk with the styling of the Eletre. Although it bears a lot of resemblance to the Lamborghini Urus, a comparison not helped by the bright yellow paint, it looks much more understated than this petrol-powered brute.

Lotus claims the openings, vents and cutaways are all functional and it has “the most advanced active aerodynamic package of any production SUV.” It will stand out if you take it from the city to the forest, that’s for sure. But we think it looks good.

The 23-inch wheels do absolutely nothing to dampen the style of the Eletre, but they are probably necessary. Not just because that’s what hyper SUV buyers want, but because Lotus has snagged a set of 10-piston brake calipers. Meaty brakes squeeze around ceramic composite rotors to ensure this SUV can come to a stop quickly.

Durable materials inside

Lotus Eletre
(Photo/Lotus)

A fixed panoramic roof lets light into the cabin, illuminating all four (or optionally five) seats. Lotus has selected sustainable luxury materials for the interior, including a wool blend seat fabric that weighs half of what leather does. Even the carbon fiber trim is made more sustainably: end-cut pieces of the carbon weaves used elsewhere in the vehicle. Normally, these scraps would be waste.

Two KEF audio systems are available. But if you’re going for something like this, we’d suggest skipping the 1380W system and ticking the box for the 23-speaker, 2160W KEF Reference system.

ADAS Suite includes LiDAR, OTA updates

Lotus Eletre
(Photo/Lotus)

The Eletre gets a new infotainment system running Android. It can support natural voice control and augmented reality display technology, all controlled from a 15.1-inch screen. But Lotus has gone far beyond the high-tech side.

the Advanced driver assistance systems suite, including intelligent adaptive cruise control, is equipped with a LiDAR vision system. Retractable sensor modules can create an incredibly detailed picture of the situation surrounding the vehicle, which is believed to be an essential part of future autonomous driving technology.

Although it does not fly at launch, the Lotus Eletre supports Over The Air software updates to help add these features later. Lotus calls it “future-proof”, saying that when new assistive technologies become available, Lotus will be able to add them to cars that are already on the road.

The deliveries of Lotus Eletre is expected to launch in China, the UK, and Europe in early 2023. The North American market will likely have to wait until early 2024. However, no word on pricing yet.

Learn more about the Lotus Eletre

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