by Anmol AhujaJan 20, 2022
The launch of the British racing car manufacturer and automobile giant Lotus' latest 'Hyper SUV' bears the potential to be a truly revolutionary development in the realm of automobile design. What the announcement heralds is that the electric vehicle segment is now being squarely invested in by luxury sports car brands too, with Ferrari's and Lamborghini’s electric supercars not too far away in the future. This is in slight departure from their preconceived association to global engineering innovators, including Tesla, and automobile manufacturers catering to the affordable segment. Second, it’s a number of firsts for Lotus as well, being the company’s first five-door production car, the first model outside sports car segments, and the first lifestyle EV, making it "the most 'connected' Lotus ever,” according to the brand. This series of firsts, the innovative angle, is fused with the company’s true ethos of genuine sporting performance along with a simplicity of purpose, driven by pioneering technology. The car's agile, aerodynamic form is "carved by air" akin to other Lotus models, as stated in an official release.
The Eletre gets its personality from a unique fusion of sorts. While the hyper SUV label ensures that it will be a fusion of function and form, of performance and comfort, its reinterpretation comes from two existing Lotus offerings - the Emira sports car and the all-electric Evija hypercar. Its unique automobile architecture comprises Lotus' all new, highly versatile Electric Premium Architecture (EPA), entailing increased adaptability to accommodate battery sizes, motors, and component layouts across vehicle classes, packed with a 'skateboard-style' battery pack, situated close to the ground to create a low centre of gravity for the vehicle.
Accompanied by an array of performance statistics that are truly impressive, the Eletre is a four wheel drive, revved up by an engine powered at 600hp and a battery capacity of over 100kWh. With the power it draws, the car joins the prestigious 2-second club, making it from a 0-100kmph in just under three seconds - a feat that is remarkable by all means for an EV, and a herald of the truly revolutionary developments on the horizon I mentioned before. The battery is optimised for quick charging, capable of delivering a range of 400km (248 miles) in just a 20 minute charge, while targeting a range of 600km on a full charge over time. An impressive, even unforeseen development on the hyper SUV is the world’s first deployable LIDAR system in a production car, mounted atop its windscreen, pushing the car’s venture into intelligent driving technologies, with an inkling toward autonomous driving in the future.
Apart from spectacular performance stats to boast, the Eletre’s physicality and form is designed to augment its more quantifiable traits. With a cab-forward stance, long wheelbase and very short overhangs on the front and rear, helped by a lot of spatial freedom owing to the absence of a petrol engine under the bonnet, the car’s body is lent a highly 'porous' form, allowing for the realisation of the aerodynamic principle of air flowing under the car, over it, and around it." The design’s visual ramifications and the overall targeted aesthetic is summed up in this statement from an official release: "Overall, there’s a visual lightness to the car, creating the impression of a high-riding sports car rather than an SUV."
The 'lightness' in design is further propounded by the 'fixtures' on the car being completely minimised. Along with the door handles flushed to surface, each door mirror is replaced by an Electric Reverse Mirror Display (ERMD), housing three different cameras. Comprising a rear-view mirror, a second to help draft a 360-degree view of the car from above to help with parking, and a third that segues into the car's intelligent driving offerings, the system works in tandem with the Eletre's LIDAR system to deliver the car autonomous driving capabilities.
The automobile’s premium feel and lightness in design carries over to the interiors of the car as well, with the company using only highly durable man-made microfibres on the primary touchpoints, accompanied by an advanced wool-blend fabric on the seats that is 50 per cent lighter than traditional leather. While the car’s external shell is built in aluminium and high tensile steel for optimal structural rigidity and fluid aerodynamics, the harder materials in the car’s interior are made in high-quality carbon fibre.
Driving home a holistic experience, the Eletre has much to credit its extensive User Experience team for, who utilise the car’s spacious interiors and cockpit space to deliver a truly unique, stylish experience. The air vents at each end of the front cabin seem to emerge from a 'blade of light' that runs across the cabin, housed in a ribbed channel that widens to accommodate the vents. Melding with the car’s immersive HMI (Human Machine Interface), the light changes colour to reflect 'events' and communicate with its inhabitants, including a call, change in cabin temperature, and the vehicle’s battery status. This technology is augmented by an extensive digital interface, dubbed by the design team as a "ribbon of technology". Its most significant feature is a revision of the traditional driver instrument cluster, its binnacle, now reduced to a thin strip measuring less than 30mm to communicate key vehicle and journey information.
Furthermore, on the design aspects of the car that delve on delivering an all round, immersive experience to the driver, the 'journey' begins before the driver has even reached the car. Pressing a button on the car’s key or the car’s compatible smartphone app activates a sequence designed to enthral and rife with theatricality. The car’s exterior lights illuminate rhythmically, the grille ‘breathes’, and the illuminated flush door handles are deployed. The whole experience is repeated as the passengers are seated and the door closes behind the occupant, mimicking a space vessel being locked and loaded, prepped for take off. What’s more is that the Eletre just seems the tip of the iceberg for Lotus, with the automobile giant planning an all-new range of premium lifestyle performance electric vehicles, led by the Eletre.