British sports car brand Lotus has made a grand entry into the rapidly growing Indian luxury electric vehicle market with the launch of its first ever electric SUV, the Eletre. The company showcased the Eletre in India just months after its global unveiling, signaling Lotus’ serious intent to make inroads into the world’s fifth largest auto market.
Lotus – A Potted History
Lotus Cars has a rich 73-year history intertwined with racing and building lightweight performance sports cars. Founded by Colin Chapman in 1948, Lotus Engineering first built lightweight, agile racing cars and then introduced iconic production models like the Elan, Elite, Esprit and Elise, establishing Lotus as a technology leader through innovation in motorsports. Lotus has participated in Formula One, won the Indy 500, 24 Hours of Le Mans and many other races over its racing heritage. However, despite critical acclaim, Lotus has struggled commercially and gone through multiple ownership changes over the decades.
Geely Revival and Beyond Sports Cars
Current owner Geely has made significant investments since acquiring Lotus in 2017, expanding manufacturing facilities and revamping operations to turn around Lotus’ fortunes. This revival plan is already bearing fruit, with 2019 seeing record sales for Lotus. Geely now aims to rapidly scale up Lotus sales 10-fold to 10,000 units in the mid-term, with an ambitious product roadmap spanning new sports cars like the Evija hypercar as well as the company’s first SUV, crossover and lifestyle models.
The Eletre SUV is the most critical part of this wider strategy to go beyond sports cars and reinvent Lotus as an aspirational sustainable premium automotive brand. The Eletre will spearhead Lotus’ entry into the highly lucrative luxury electric SUV segment globally, starting with key markets like China, Europe and India.
Eletre SUV – A Reinvention for Lotus
The Eletre represents a reinvented Lotus, blending the brand’s sports car ethos with the sophistication, comfort and connectivity expected from a modern luxury SUV. However, the Eletre stays true to Lotus’ DNA – focusing on delivering a dynamic driving experience, outstanding aerodynamic efficiency, intelligent minimalistic design inside out, and using advanced lightweight materials.
From the exterior, the Eletre oozes athleticism with taut surfaces and proportions combining the visual presence of a premium SUV with sports car accents. The interior is a marked departure for Lotus with a high-tech yet minimalist lounge-like design and Four-Seater configuration. The Eletre still reflects Lotus’ weight obsession – the carbon fiber monocoque chassis and aluminum body panels result in a low 2,215 kg curb weight.
Lotus’ Versatile Electric Powertrain Solution
The Eletre showcases Lotus’ 800V dedicated electric architecture and an innovative electric powertrain co-developed with parent Geely. It features a high-performance permanent magnet motor on each axle, producing a combined power output of over 600 hp and 700 Nm of instant torque. The Eletre sprints from 0-100 km/h in under 3 seconds – matching supercars – with top speed electronically limited to 260 km/h.
The battery pack has over 100 kWh capacity with advanced cell chemistry, enabling a WLTP range of over 600 kms on a single charge – more than adequate for most usage scenarios. It supports high-speed charging up to 350 kW – enabling a 400 km range top-up in just 20 minutes. The Eletre also debuts Lotus’ advanced Electric Vehicle Architecture that will underpin other forthcoming electric models.
Targeting the Indian Luxury Electric Market
Lotus chose India among the first batch of launch markets for the Eletre, underlining its importance as the world’s fifth largest auto market with over 3 million annual luxury car sales and rapid growth in EVs. Mercedes, Audi, BMW and Jaguar already have a headstart here with their electric SUV models. The Eletre will be brought to India as a CBU import in 2023, priced expectedly north of Rs 1.5 crores targeting ultra-luxury EV buyers.
Lotus plans to establish presence across metro cities in India with dealerships and service centers to cater to its niche clientele. Customer deliveries are expected to begin by mid-2023. Lotus is bullish on the Eletre finding takers among India’s affluent car buyers upgrading to luxury EVs, as well as tapping into an aspirational young demographic wanting a modern low-carbon lifestyle.
The Eletre faces competition from the likes of Audi e-tron, Mercedes EQC, Jaguar I-Pace and Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo in this rarefied segment. But as the most powerful electric SUV on sale, the Eletre brings unique performance attributes coupled with Lotus’ racing pedigree to attract performance-oriented luxury buyers. Lotus is also leveraging its Formula 1 team to build awareness and access celebrity influencers.
Ambitious Plans for India and Asia
India is a key part of Lotus’ broader ambition to significantly expand its presence across the high-growth Asia Pacific region. The company aims to open dedicated design and R&D facilities in China, leveraging synergies with Geely for accelerating product development tailored for this region.
Lotus is planning both ICE and electric models catering specifically to Chinese and Asian tastes, along with building its dealer network across key regional markets. This includes SUVs, grand touring models and sports cars inspired by Lotus’ heritage. The Eletre SUV will play a pivotal role in realizing these growth plans and transforming perceptions of what a Lotus car can be.
The Eletre represents Lotus venturing decisively into the mainstream luxury electric mobility space globally while retaining its performance brand legacy. The India launch is an important milestone in Lotus’ pivot towards high-volume segments without diluting its DNA. The electric SUV’s unique fusion of dynamism, luxury and sustainability makes it a compelling proposition for eco-conscious Indian buyers wanting exotic car appeal blended with electric car practicality. Lotus has signaled that this is just the start of more accessible yet fun cars from the brand. The Eletre’s success will be instrumental towards making Lotus cars a more common sight on Indian roads.
Lotus Elise price in India
Unfortunately, Lotus does not currently sell the Elise model in India. The Elise is a two-seater mid-engine sports car that Lotus has produced since 1996. Here are some key points about the Lotus Elise and its availability in India:
- The current generation Lotus Elise was introduced in 2010 and is still in production in some markets like the UK, Europe, Japan etc. However, it is not offered in India.
- The Lotus Elise is known for its lightweight construction, responsive handling and open-top driving experience. It has a 1.8L 4-cylinder engine producing up to 217hp.
- The Elise weighs just over a 1000 kg, making it one of the lightest production cars available. This contributes to its driving dynamics.
- In the UK market, the Lotus Elise has a starting price of £41,995 (around Rs 41 lakh). However, due to import duties, the pricing would be significantly higher in India.
- Lotus had a limited presence in India in the past but withdrew from the market in the early 2000s due to low sales. It only made a comeback in 2022 with the Eletre electric SUV.
- Currently, Lotus does not have any plans to launch the Elise or any other sports car model in India. The company is focused on the SUV and electric vehicle segments for the Indian market.
- Until Lotus decides to expand its portfolio in India, the Elise and other iconic Lotus models like the Exige, Evora etc remain unavailable for Indian buyers unfortunately. Lotus fans in India can only hope the company brings some of its driver-focused sports cars here in the future.
Here are some key details about the Lotus Emira:
- The Emira is an upcoming two-seater sports car model from Lotus, slated for launch in 2022. It will be the final petrol-powered Lotus before the brand transitions to full electric.
- The Emira features an all-new lightweight chassis and body shell made from aluminum. It is 4.4 meters long and has a 2-seater cockpit layout.
- Power comes from a 3.5L V6 engine sourced from Toyota, producing around 400hp. Transmission options are a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic.
- Other performance highlights include a limited slip differential, double wishbone suspension, and disc brakes all around. Lotus claims 0-100 kmph in under 4.5 seconds.
- Exterior design is inspired by the Evija hypercar with an aggressive front end, sculpted sides, big air intakes and a rear diffuser. The interior gets high-end trim and latest tech.
- Prices are expected to start around £60,000 to £80,000 in the UK market. This would translate to Rs 60 lakh to Rs 80 lakh, but India pricing could be higher.
- Lotus plans to cap production at under 1500 units over 3 years. The Emira will be sold globally including markets like the UK, Europe, China, Japan and Australia.
- However, Lotus has not confirmed an India launch yet for the Emira. It remains to be seen if Lotus brings the Emira to India after its global unveiling.
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