The 2024 Eletre is an all-electric SUV that rivals the Cayman, the Evija hypercar or the upcoming EV small sports car being developed with Alpine; it’s the product that most accurately points to where Lotus is headed, and it’s a linchpin in Geely’s plan.
Technically, the Eletre is just one of three “lifestyle EVs” that Lotus will reveal in the coming years, so it won’t work alone. The flagship SUV, formerly codenamed Type 132, should cost around $100,000 and will go on sale in the UK, China and Europe in 2023, with U.S. sales likely to fall in 2024.
What its name means
The company responsible for legends such as Elise, Elan and Esprit has no plans to leave the sports car market. But that market is shrinking, while that of SUVs is growing, and Lotus desperately needs to move to a more practical product if it wants to grow, or just survive. In addition to referring to the electric powertrain of cars, the name Eletre is apparently Hungarian and means “to come to life” and represents the rebirth of Lotus. Parent company Geely has high hopes for Lotus, and this SUV will provide the company founded by Colin Chapman more than 70 years ago with several novelties. For starters, it’s the first Lotus to be built in China, at a new plant in Wuhan, though future sports cars will continue to be produced from Lotus’ spiritual home in Hethel, England. And while it’s not the first four-seat Lotus it’s the first four-door Lotus that’s not a modified version of an existing model.
Lotus comes in a big way
This is a huge machine by Lotus standards, and actually 7.1 inches (179 mm) longer, but 2.6 inches (66 mm) lower than the Porsche Cayenne you’re looking for. It measures 201 inches (5105 mm) from bumper to bumper, 118.9 inches (3019 mm) between the wheels and 64.2 inches (1630 mm) high, and if that sounds like numerical gibberish, know that the Eletre is big enough to be imposing, but with proportions that tell you it’s a sporty crossover with the mold of a Ferrari Purosangue, not a vertical SUV.
How it is from the outside
The short-bonnet, forward-cab stance made possible by the EV architecture is a subtle indication that the carbon-fiber, aluminum Eletre is different from the commonly seen V8-powered luxury SUVs. But there are definitely nuances of the more expensive Lamborghini Urus over the style, and also of the recent Lotus sports cars. It gets the same increase in window line near the C-pillar as in the Emira, and air is pushed through the holes in the body at the front, side and rear, as in its big brother Evija.
Speaking of airflow, one of the most interesting design features is the spoiler at the rear of the roof, which splits into two wing-like halves to allow the Eletre’s roof-mounted pop-up Lidar sensor to get a clear view of the way back when it has activated its autonomous technology.
Fast charging, reasonable range
Other modern devices we’re not used to seeing in a Lotus include the camera-powered rearview mirrors, standard air suspension and optional directional rear axle, active anti-roll bars, and active limited-slip differential. In addition, obviously, the electric transmission itself. The platform is a completely new architecture exclusive to Lotus with 800V charging capacity that promises a full charge in 18 minutes. Lotus hasn’t revealed all the details about the twin-engine propulsion setup, but claims the battery will have more than 100 kWh and should offer around 373 miles (600 km) of electric driving, plus the ability to add 248 miles (400 km) of range in 20 minutes when plugged into a 350 kW charger.
Power figures are also a bit vague at this point, but Lotus says the Eletre will start with 592 horsepower, and will be able to accelerate to one hundred kilometers per hour from zero in less than 3.0 seconds and will peak at 160 mph or about 257 km/h. But it also says the SUV will be available with two more power outputs, and we understand that the more powerful will deliver around 690 hp (700 PS).
Inside the car
There’s a fashionable non-circular steering wheel, door-mounted rearview mirrors for the camera side mirrors, and the materials, including sustainable textiles and a fantastic carbon edge. Made of recycled fibers, they give it a fresh and modern atmosphere. You still get a traditional raised console that separates the driver and passenger, but because there’s no streaming hardware underneath, the lower space can be used to store small bags, phones, and wallets.
The place of honor on the board is occupied by a large scale-oriented tablet screen that rotates from its base to get up and greet you. That is complemented by two other digital strip screens, one in front of the driver and one in front of the passenger. It looks and feels like the kind of thing Tesla could do if it hired some Scandi interior designers to inject some warmth into its interiors.
But leaving aside the lack of gull-wing rear doors, the Eletre has a lot more presence than the Model X, and looks much cooler than the Cayenne, which currently doesn’t have an EV derivative and is unlikely to get one until much later in the decade. And while buyers may not be familiar with the Lotus brand, there is a huge catalog of achievements in motorsport, technical innovations, and great drivers’ cars that will help the company’s marketing teams sell the brand to a new audience. Also, while Lotus may not have sold SUVs under its own name before, it has been developed a lot for other customers, so this isn’t entirely new territory.
However, that won’t stop some fans from feeling outraged by Lotus’ new direction, and the Eletre is just the beginning. About a year after the 2023 introduction of the flagship SUV seen here, Lotus will unveil a four-door EV coupe to take on the Porsche Taycan and Tesla Model S.