These days car brands dipping into the lifestyle world means collaborations and clothing collections but Lotus has always done things differently. Lotus keeps it real. How it has entered this sphere is through the experience of the drive, attending to the needs of the drivers of tomorrow, matching their sensibilities with the thoughtful engineering of a practical SUV through the prism of a hyper car. To celebrate the launch of the Eletre we imagined what a future day out in a Hyper-SUV would look like, dog and all, shooting with photographer Emma Louise Swanson and stylist Miso Dam to create scenes that imagine the Eletre in a bright Utopian future.
Few automotive brands have a singular guiding ethos that underpins all which they pursue. For Lotus, however, founder Colin Chapman famously declared a development strategy to “simplify” first. What seems like an uncomplicated premise, one that has always been the primary goal of the racing world, is actually a contrarian approach in the industrial world of road cars, where safety, electronics and other technology evolve by the day. But through Lotus, Mr. Chapman has always innovated differently. Having understood that performance wasn’t earned by any one dimension, Lotus pursued a balance that led to the most efficient performance car on the market at the time.
Introduced in 1957, the first production Lotus road car, the Elite Type 14, was co-developed by aerospace engineers to employ aerodynamic principles of reducing drag, boasting specs that are still highly efficient to this day. Just as the genesis of the horsepower wars was starting in America and the rest of the world, Lotus remained true to its aerodynamic philosophy and today it still guides Lotus into the future. For Lotus with its new Eletre (dubbed the first all-electric Hyper-SUV), that means not only being competitive but redefining a segment and innovating differently.
“Electric” and “SUV” are two very big firsts to combine in the same project for a brand like Lotus, but fortune favors the bold. Neither of these are segments that shine as beacons of fun or purity in the car world, yet they have also proven to be some of the most stylish and competitive. But Lotus has the counter-punches to any skepticism the purists may have. If Lotus enters a new segment, you can count on that balance being pursued with the goal of being class-leading. Something batteries can do that internal combustion engines do not is position the weight (and consequently the center of gravity) centrally and very low to the ground. Lotus does this in the Eletre with its “skateboard-style” batteries. Without getting too technical, this translates to fun and a significantly higher sensation of grip and connection to the road. It’s an example of Mr. Chapman’s “simplify” mandate, by utilizing what a particular technology already does well to reinforce the priorities of the brand. Consider the guiding pillar reinforced.
Efficiency isn't a word that typically provokes the mind to imagine anthropomorphic, sensual shapes, but for Lotus, the air becomes a language and one that it has always spoken fluently. When you see inlets lead over curvaceous shapes and subsequent outlets, there’s an understanding of the engineer's intentions, even if you have no idea what an engineering wind tunnel is. Like a jet stream on the earth or a yoga practice, there’s an almost biomechanical, organic understanding of functionality. Technically, this is the aerodynamic principle of ‘porosity’ — or, more simply, the voids in space in the car’s surface which air can travel through and be directed for effect on reducing drag, increasing downforce, and organically cooling the batteries and brakes. All of these have a positive effect on range and dynamic performance, so while looking beautiful, the Eletre puts function above all else, it's the north star to any form. The Eletre is not a brick-shaped military truck fighting against the air - the Eletre consumes the air.
Lotus is not just thinking about the performance but the overall feel of the car for the more modern lifestyle driver. Not for the SUV drivers of old, the vehicle beckons a new Eletre Generation, and whilst the car pops like a pair of yellow sneakers on a David Hockney fit pic, it is also set on aligning with what the modern driver wants and needs on an eco-conscious level. Beyond the dynamic impact, Lotus has put equal focus on the modern priorities of personal performance and impact. The 112 kWh battery has a charging time of just 20 minutes using a rapid charger to go from 10-80% range, making your range anxiety and infrastructure woes a thing of the past. Eletre is available with a state-of-the-art alternative to leather that is environmentally friendly, odor-free, and lasts longer than genuine leather. In addition, a new man-made fiber has been used in the carpets and boot liners. It is 100% recycled and 100% recyclable, and there is no waste in the production process. Add to that autonomous driving capabilities, an intelligent cockpit infotainment setup, a full immersive audio experience combining KEF speaker system to Dolby Atmos technology, and the Eletre starts ticking all the right boxes. Good signs, indeed.
Every interior experience is designed to be as light and flow as much as the car’s form itself. “If you take the lightweight philosophy of Lotus – which was originally physical – we think that transfers to the digital realm in terms of the experience being ‘lighter’, making things intuitive and as simple as possible,” Ben adds. “In terms of on-screen content, we’re trying to make things accessible in a minimum amount of touches. The main functions you access with one touch or swipe. It can’t be multi-layered. The digital world is what technology represents to youthful customers now, so Lotus has to engage with that. We’re going to carry on with the engineering side of technological advancement and that pioneering aspect of the brand, but naturally, it now has to transition into the digital realm too.”
So that's the form, function, eco-needs and UX experience boxes ticked but what about the actual drive? There is a lot Lotus has revealed to us about the Eletre. What we do know is the highest trim Eletre R will have 905 HP, and go 0-100 km/h in 2,95 sec, rightfully earning its self-established Hyper-SUV segmentation. The Eletre will achieve up to a claimed 600 KMs of range in its most efficient guise. By every single metric, against all of its competitors, direct or indirect, electric or petrol, the Eletre looks like a winner. On paper, Lotus did not design the Eletre to lose. But for a brand like Lotus, which touts its products as being ultra-engaging for its drivers, it’s the thrill of the drive that determines success or not. Lotus has never been about what the spec box in a magazine says. But if any brand can do it, it should be Lotus. So while the final verdict may be out until we get behind the wheel, I’d put my money on the brand that’s always known the machine is only as good as how it makes the driver feel.
Click here to reserve the new Lotus Eletre.