Lotus, a brand steeped in the heritage of lightweight sports cars, has ventured into uncharted territory with the launch of its Emeya Hyper-GT, a departure from its traditional ethos. Renowned for its agile handling rather than raw power, Lotus has undergone a transformative phase, stepping into the electric vehicle (EV) domain. The release of the Emeya, following the introduction of the robust Eletre SUV, has set a new course for the iconic British marque.
The Emeya boasts supercar-level performance, with a formidable power output of up to 905 horsepower and 985Nm of torque. It accelerates from 0 to 62mph in a mere 2.78 seconds, showcasing remarkable prowess. Although specific details regarding the battery size and range remain undisclosed, Lotus parallels the Emeya's range with the Eletre, reaching up to 373 miles on WLTP standards.
Notably, rapid charging capabilities of up to 350kW allow an impressive addition of 93 miles in just five minutes, with an 18-minute duration for a 10-80% charge, ensuring the Emeya fulfils its GT aspirations. The ‘basic' model could come in just under £100,000 with the fully loaded version landing at just over £120,000.
Ben Payne, Lotus Group's VP of Design, explained the company's new strategy, “Lotus is evolving in this era of electrification. While the characteristic super-analogue lightweight essence is challenging to emulate in future EV products, we strive to retain our commitment to lightweight design. We incorporate lightweight materials like carbon fibre and full aluminium bodies, preserving the essence of Lotus while expanding our brand appeal to a broader audience.”
This is clearly a paradigm shift for the established marque. Payne told media, “We are redefining our brand to establish a sustainable business model. While acknowledging our exceptional heritage, Lotus aims to broaden its market appeal by targeting a more mainstream yet upmarket clientele.”
This transition aligns with Lotus's acquisition by the Chinese conglomerate Geely, sharing ownership with Volvo, six years ago, driving the brand towards lifestyle-oriented innovation while preserving its legacy of high-performance cars.
Despite manufacturing operations based in China, Lotus maintains its quintessentially British design and creative processes at its Hethel headquarters in the UK. Payne was keen to emphasise this fact, “The UK remains the epicentre of our creative process, encompassing design, engineering, and maintaining the historical DNA of the brand, while elements of manufacturing engineering are facilitated in China.”
While leveraging Geely's platforms, the Lotus design team ensures that its cars remain distinctive. Payne clarified, “Technological innovations in the Emeya, such as the unique LIDAR systems and autonomous driving aids, are exclusive to Lotus, showcasing our pioneering spirit.”
As anyone of average of above height/weight will attest after having tried to pour themselves into something like an Elise, Lotus has a rep for putting a lot of car into a small frame. Therefore, the company's shift towards larger products will raise concerns among traditional enthusiasts. Is this really a Lotus?
Payne looked to reassure those aficionados, “The Emeya, despite its larger build, retains the quintessential Lotus traits, maintaining driver-machine connection and exceptional dynamic capabilities. Intelligent aerodynamic systems enhance its performance, with features like an active front grille and air dam augmenting both efficiency and downforce.”
However, the Emeya's bulkiness contrasts sharply with Lotus's historic lightweight ethos, weighing up to 2,640kg, a stark contrast to the Elan's 680kg legacy. Payne highlighted, “The EV landscape requires a reimagining of driving experiences, focusing on software-driven vehicles. Lotus aims to forge a unique path, offering exhilarating yet distinct EV experiences while meeting modern connectivity demands.”
The Emeya enters a competitive market of fast electric luxury sedans, promising a compelling proposition. Payne distinguished, “Our emphasis on dynamic capabilities and heightened engagement, coupled with a spacious interior, differentiates the Emeya. We aim to imbue our cars with unparalleled emotional and technological appeal, setting them apart in their segments.”
The release of the Emeya marks a new chapter for Lotus, striding into the future of electric vehicles without forsaking its cherished heritage. As the automotive industry continues its electrifying evolution, Lotus pioneers a new legacy, blending innovation with its storied past, carving a niche in the electrified luxury segment.
Not sure if we're likely to see the Emeya repeat Lotus' finest hour – when the white Esprit Turbo transformed into a submarine in the Bond classic, The Spy Who Loved Me back in 1977 – but maybe it opens the door for a new Lotus division to look to emulate the success of the old Lotus F1 team – who won seven constructors' titles and six drivers' titles in the grimy, oil stained golden days of single seater racing.
If this sounds appealing, contact Lotus about joining the queue.