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Lotus has unveiled its new all-electric ‘Eletre’, which is not only its debut SUV model but also its first car to be built at its state-of-the-art factory in Wuhan – the epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic

Lotus has unveiled its new all-electric ‘Eletre’, which is not only its debut SUV model but also its first car to be built at its state-of-the-art factory in Wuhan – the epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The British car maker, which has its headquarters in Hethel, Norfolk, dubbed the motor the world’s only ‘electric hyper-SUV’, with prices expected to start from just under £100,000 when first deliveries arrive from the China plant in 2023.

It will be a rival to petrol-powered performance SUVs including the Aston Martin DBX, Lamborghini Urus and  as well as the electric BMW iX M60 and Ford Mustang Mach-E GT.

Lotus says the Eletre promises a ‘desirable all-new lifestyle car for the next generation of customers’ that also retains the ‘core principles and DNA’ of the British car maker that dates back to 1948 and was epitomised by founder Colin Chapman’s famous principle of ‘simplify, then add lightness’.

Here are ten things you need to know about the British marque’s new vehicle with a Covid connection… 

A car with a Covid connection: This is the new Lotus Eletre - the brand's first five-door model and debut SUV. It's also the initial vehicle produced at the company's new state-of-the-art factory in Wuhan, China - the epicentre of the Covid-19 outbreak

A car with a Covid connection: This is the new Lotus Eletre – the brand’s first five-door model and debut SUV.It’s also the initial vehicle produced at the company’s new state-of-the-art factory in Wuhan, China – the epicentre of the Covid-19 outbreak

1. It’s being built in… Wuhan

Before we get to the vehicle itself, let’s address the sizable elephant in the room – the location of where it will be made.

Lotus Cars has been majority owned (51 per cent) by Chinese firm Zhejiang Geely Holding Group since 2017, with Malaysia’s Etika Automotive taking the  remaining 49 per cent share of the company.

Just last year, the car maker’s subsidiary business, Lotus Technology, announced new headquarters and a production facility in Wuhan, with the sole purpose of accelerating electric vehicle innovation.

Lotus recently launched a subsidiary division called, Lotus Technology, with headquarters being built in Wuhan. It is here where it will spearhead its electric vehicle technology

Lotus recently launched a subsidiary division called, Lotus Technology, with headquarters being built in Wuhan. It is here where it will spearhead its electric vehicle technology

A new Lotus manufacturing plant in Wuhan opened last year, complementing the existing UK sports car manufacturing and performance facilities in Hethel and Norwich. It is here where the new Eletre will be produced

A new Lotus manufacturing plant in Wuhan opened last year, complementing the existing UK sports car manufacturing and performance facilities in Hethel and Norwich.It is here where the new Eletre will be produced

The Eletre goes into direction competition with a growing market of 'super-SUVs' - though all are currently petrol powered. That includes the £160,000 Lamborghini Urus (pictured)

The Eletre goes into direction competition with a growing market of ‘super-SUVs’ – though all are currently petrol powered.That includes the £160,000 Lamborghini Urus (pictured)

Other rivals for the Lotus Eletre in the performance SUV ranks include the Aston Martin DBX, which is set to feature electric power in the coming years

Another opponent is the forthcoming Ferrari SUV, which was teased last week

Other rivals for the Lotus Eletre in the performance SUV ranks include the Aston Martin DBX (left), which is set to feature electric power in the coming years.Another opponent is the forthcoming Ferrari SUV (right), which was teased last week

The new £900million EV base in the city where the Covid-19 virus outbreak started is set to be completed in 2024 – and the Eletre will be the first model built there from next year.

Despite its assembly in China, bosses are still eager to flag the brand’s originating roots. They say the Eletre has been ‘Born British, Raised Globally’, claiming its been designed at its creative centre in Warwickshire, developed by its dedicated department at Hethel – the home of Lotus since 1966 – and supported by collaborative work with teams in China, Sweden and Germany.   

The British car maker, which is now majority owned by Chinese mega firm Geely, dubbed the motor the World's only 'electric hyper-SUV', with prices expected to start from around £100,000 when first deliveries arrive from the Wuhan plant from 2023

The British car maker, which is now majority owned by Chinese mega firm Geely, dubbed the motor the World’s only ‘electric hyper-SUV’, with prices expected to start from around £100,000 when first deliveries arrive from the Wuhan plant from 2023

2.The meaning behind the name isn’t as obvious as you might think…

Elan, Europa, Esprit, FLo Twitter Elise, Exige, Evora – there’s no questioning the ‘E’ trend in Lotus nameplates. And the new Eletre follows suit – though it’s not necessarily a hint to its zero-emission drivetrain.

The word ‘Eletre’ means ‘Coming to Life’ in some Eastern European languages, which Lotus says is the appropriate moniker for the start of a new – electric – chapter in it’s 74-year history. 

3.What’s powering it? 

Power is sent to all four wheels via two electric motors, one driving the front wheels and another driving the pair at the rear. 

The drive system is Lotus’s own in-house developed three-in-one electric setup that integrates each motor with a controller and reducer, which makes the unit smaller and lighter than what’s on the market currently.

The motors are linked to a high-energy-density battery pack with a capacity of ‘over 100kWh’.This will produce in excess of 592bhp and provide a range of around 373 miles (600km). 

Lotus says it should be able to accelerate from rest to 62mph in less than three seconds and have a top speed of 161mph. 

It will be fitted with a 350kW charger, which means a 20-minute charge can add 248 miles (400km) of range, granted you plug into a suitably powerful device.    

The Eletre will be sold with a choice of a four or five-seat layout. The car used for the launch images is the former, which will likely cost extra to spec

The Eletre will be sold with a choice of a four or five-seat layout.The car used for the launch images is the former, which will likely cost extra to spec

5 months ago

4. How many people can you fit in it? 

The bright yellow car shown at launch has a four seat layout with individual chairs all round. 

However, a more traditional five-seat formation – with a rear bench – will likely be standard with the less accommodating arrangement an optional extra.  

5.Lotus’s first SUV – but not its first car with more than two seats

While the Eletre is the first SUV from Lotus, it’s also its debut five-door production car and only model outside the sports car segment in its decorated history.It’s also described as the brand’s first ‘lifestyle EV’ – whatever that means.

However, it isn’t the first Lotus with more than two seats. 

The Lotus Cortinas, built with Ford, of the sixties and seventies could seat five with a rear bench, while an Elan+2 hit the market around the same time offering a pair of back chairs in the dinky sports car – but they were only suitable for small children.

Its previous range of late-seventies, early-eighties GT cars – the Elite, Eclat and Excel – also offered 2+2 seating layouts.

The Eletre will be the first Lotus-badged model to have five doors, though not the first to have more than two seats. The Lotus Cortina could seat up to five with a bench in the back

The Eletre will be the first Lotus-badged model to have five doors, though not the first to have more than two seats.The Lotus Cortina could seat up to five with a bench in the back

Its previous range of late-seventies, early-eighties GT cars - the Elite (pictured), Eclat and Excel - also offered 2+2 seating layouts

Its previous range of late-seventies, early-eighties GT cars – the Elite (pictured), Eclat and Excel – also offered 2+2 seating layouts

<div class="art-ins mol-factbox money" data-version="2" id="mol-43e067d0-af74-11ec-82d4-37f36dcec83b" website car with a Covid connection: Lotus Eletre SUV will be built in WUHAN

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