After a few difficult years, Lotus is back on track. The early 2010s weren’t particularly kind to the iconic British automaker, but thanks to some serious investment from the Chinese automotive giant Geely in exchange for a 51% share, Lotus is posting incredible growth, dropping hints about ambitious future plans, and employing more staff to help meet their sales demands. No matter how you look at it, Lotus is going to return to the good old days when it was a glorious vehicle innovator rather than a niche exotic performance car manufacturer that produces a tiny volume of vehicles a year. It’s all going well for Lotus, and very soon they’ll be back to where they should be.
To put things into perspective, take a look at 2015’s Lotus sales in the US. In that 12-month period between January and December 2015, Lotus sold a not-so-grand total of 80 units. Eighty. In 2007, Lotus sold a total of 2,604 Lotus models were sold in the USA. From 2007 to 2015, the brand took a serious nose dive. Today, the brand is getting back on track, but their global sales are still far behind what they used to be. For example, in 2016 Lotus sold 1,400 cars globally. 2017 saw that figure rise to 1,600. In 2018, Lotus posted a modest sales increase of 30 units, bringing the total to 1,630.
Sales are one thing, but profit is quite another. In 2016, the brand managed to turn a profit for the first time since 2000. Lotus has managed to post increasing profits year after year between then and now. In 2019, Lotus ended the year with a strong sales performance that resulted in an overall increase of revenue by 12% over 2018. The boost in revenue was attributed to a stronger presence in the markets, and more sales in emerging markets. At the end of 219, Japan was named as the brand’s biggest market, followed by the brand’s home market of the United Kingdom, and the USA, Germany, Italy, the United Arab Emirates, and China also making large sales contributions.
The positive growth and rising profits has allowed Lotus to grow in different ways too. Towards the end of 2018, Lotus was able to employ more stuff and invest more time and money into Research and Development projects. In recent press events, Lotus executives have announced the brand’s ambitious plans to launch two new sports cars in the next few years—the brands first new models since 2009—with plans to boost global sales to over 3000 units sold per year by 2021 or 2022.
Lotus has also discussed plans to release a large-volume vehicle in the form an SUV. Plans have been seen, and brand executives have confirmed that a Lotus SUV is certainly on the way. While the SUV might come a surprise to sports car purists, it’s a smart move that will allow Lotus to grow and build profits, which can then be re-invested into sports car R&D. In fact, after the release of the Lotus SUV, the brand expects to post sales in excess of 10,000 units per year. It’s an ambitious plan, but the prestigious Lotus brand name, when combined with a slightly more affordable product, will help the company tap into an entirely new market and generate some serious revenue.
So, what will be in the 2021 Lotus line-up? Naturally, we can expect to see minor updates to the already successful Elise, Exige, and Evora models, but what else is on the cards? For starters, two new sports cars have been promised, and the above mentioned SUV too. But how will they look and when will they arrive? Here’s all we know about the 2021 Lotus range so far.
Note: these estimates are based on rumor and speculation. Right now, Lotus has been a bit tight lipped about exactly what’s coming, or rather, when it’s coming. One of these models is certainly on the way, while others may arrive a little further down the line. So, take this article as a rough guide about what you could expect to see from the 2021 Lotus line-up.
What To Expect From The 2021 Lotus Line-Up
2021 Lotus Elan
The announcement that Lotus plans to unveil a pair of new sports car has caused the rumor-mill to switch into overdrive. We already know what one of those sports car models will be (see below) but that has made a lot of people wonder what the other model will be. Some enthusiasts think that the currently undisclosed model may be an update of the legendary Lotus Elan. It’s been almost 30 years since the Elan last graced the Lotus production line, but according to unnamed sources (as usual) and people close to the company, an updated Elan will be arriving in 2021, sitting above the Elise in the line-up, as a direct rival to the Porsche 718 Boxster.
Lotus fans have actually gone a step further, suggesting that a new Elan-based platform could act as a springboard to launch a few more classic Lotus nameplates, such as the Esprit and Europa models, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Right now, it seems that a new sports model could come with the Elan-designation, something that fits above the Elise but below the Evora, adding more diverse choice to Lotus customers—who are restricted to just the Elise, Exige, and Evora, with only the Evora being available to US-based customers.
The rumors suggest that the new Elan would be a sporty two-seater roadster that offers more passenger comfort than the Elise, with improved performance, tech, and general practicality. Designed to take on the Porsche 718 Boxster, the new Elan is expected to be lighter than the Boxster with an estimated weight of around 2,50 lbs (compared to the Boxster’s 2,943 lbs), and feature an engine that could give the new Elan an impressive power-to-weight ratio. In terms of price, the Lotus could undercut the Porsche too, making it a serious Boxster killer. But this is all speculation at this point.
The first Lotus Elan was manufactured in 1962 and enjoyed a production run that lasted up until 1973. It’s arguably one of Lotus’s most iconic vehicles, and one of the brand’s most important too. When it first arrived, the Elan was available in two configurations, a roadster and coupe, both with rear-wheel drive. The original Elan boasted a 1.5 liter four-cylinder engine that was upgraded to a 1.6 liter mill later on. The four-cylinder engine was able to produce a power output that varied between 90 and 126 horsepower depending on the configuration. The top flight model, the Sprint, was able to hit a top speed of 123 mph and hit 60 mph from a standstill in 6.6 seconds.
The Elan was eventually discontinued and replaced by the Lotus Esprit.
That wasn’t the end of the Elan though. Lotus brought the Elan back in 1989. The updated Elan featured a wedge design that was fused with the usual Lotus DNA of lightweight construction with nimble handling. The engine was an Isuzu four-cylinder 1.6 liter unit that produced 162 horsepower with a top speed of 137 mph. The new Elan was upgraded again between 1994 and 1995, but 1995 was the last real Elan. Lotus discontinued the model, but sold production rights to Kia, who churned out a very similar vehicle right up until 1999.
This isn’t the first that we’ve heard about a revived Elan though, so that’s what gives this rumor a little more credence than some others. Back in 2010, Lotus pulled the covers off of a concept car that was supposed be a prototype of a production model. Unfortunately, when the scheduled production date of 2013 rolled around, Lotus didn’t have the finances to make it happen. Now, with the backing of Geely and the prospect of growing profits, the Elan could make a triumphant return, spearheading Lotus’s assault on the market. We will have to wait and see. As far as rumors go, this one sounds very plausible.
2021 Lotus Evija
This isn’t just a sports car. It’s a full on hyper car. This is the all-electric Lotus Evija, a car that surpasses all expectation and throws down the gauntlet to every other vehicle that dreams of wearing the hypercar moniker. It’s intended to be the most powerful road production car ever made, with a power output that’s just shy of 2,000 horsepower. It’s about exclusive as they come, with only 130 units being produced. And what’s more, it’s going to cost $2.1 million a-piece. They’re already sold out, and not one of them will be crossing the Atlantic to arrive on US shores.
Yes, this is the 2021 Lotus Evija, which is pronounced E-vee-ya, highlighting the all-electric powertrain. EV, geddit? Manufactured almost exclusively from carbon fiber materials, and using nothing less than cutting edge technology, the Evija is the first all-electric car to come from Lotus, and it’s so wild that it could single-handedly rebrand the company from a respected and venerable hero of yesteryear and bygone days into a fierce forward-thinking innovator that could give the automotive industry pause.
The Evija’s enormous power figures are thanks to four independent electric motors, with one driving each wheel. Combined, the motors are capable of producing an insane 1972 horsepower, and claimed 1254 lb-ft of peak torque. The power is delivered through a single-speed transmission, which is probably for the best considering the amount of power on tap. To help that power along, Lotus as treated the Evija pushrod activated rear suspension, and other advanced race-developed components such high-tech diffuser with a special DRS (Drag Reduction System) and a fully adjustable rear wing.
In terms of practical usability, the Evija comes equipped with a mid-mounted 2,000 kWh lithium-ion battery pack that was developed in partnership with Williams Advanced Engineering. According to Lotus, the Evija has a driving range of 270 miles per charge, and this has been corroborated by the European NEDC cycle too, so it’s a fairly decent estimate—though, US ratings usually shave some miles off of that, but since no Evija models are coming to the US, it’s not worth splitting hairs over. Still, the most amazing feature has to be the charging system, which Lotus claims can be fast charged to 80% in as fast as 12 minutes using conventional 350 kWh chargers, with 100% only taking 18 minutes. Using 800 kWh chargers, Lotus claim the Evija can be fully charged in 9 minutes!
It has a fast charging time, and thanks to those powerful electric motors and a svelte 3704 lbs of overall weight, the 2021 Lotus Evija will be capable of sprinting from 0 to 60 mph in under 3 seconds, and hit top speeds well in excess of 200 mph. With such impressive statistics, aerodynamic styling, advanced riding aids, and a premium Lotus badge, it’s no wonder that all 130 beauties are already spoken for. Even if you had a spare $2.1 million sitting around in your bank account, there’s no way that you’ll be driving around in one of these in the foreseeable future. But hopefully this attention grabbing, publicity stunt of a car helps push Lotus sales and take the carmaker to the next level.
2021 Lotus SUV
It’s already confirmed: a Lotus SUV is coming. It’s just the details that we’re lacking. A while back, we saw some leaked patent sketches of a fairly basic looking SUV that took a few styling cues from existing Lotus sports cars. We saw swept-back head lamps, a large grille with big outlets on both sides, and a few classic Lotus curves, but fused with SUV and crossover practicalities, such as a taller front section, a larger bumper, and a hood that doesn’t quite conform to standard sports car aesthetic. All of this was completely expected though.
When the SUV was first announced back in 2017, the then-Lotus boss Jean-Marc Gales explained in an interview that “The SUV must take account of our brand, and take account of the technology in the group,” explaining that the brand must “crucially take account of what customers want. They don’t want an SUV with fixed carbon seats or huge downforce.” He added that “Still, what an Evora is to a 911 our SUV needs to be to a Cayenne,” comparing Lotus with the Porsche.
The comparison with the Porsche Cayenne is an obvious point. What was unexpected was the line about technology in the group—no doubt a reference to the wider Geely group and what technology would be available. This is leading us to believe that the SUV won’t be a pure internal combustion engine-only vehicle. We think it’s going to be electric, or at least a PHEV hybrid.
Eagle-eyed automotive paparazzi have managed to snap a few images of the Lotus SUV already. The test mules are heavily camouflaged, and at first you might be thinking that you’re looking at a Lynk & Co prototype rather than a Lotus one, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that. Lynk & Co is also owned by the Geely group, but these photos were taken in Britain, near the Lotus HQ in Hethel, and not in Sweden. Think back to the quote about sharing the group’s technology, and think about Volvo’s CMA architecture, which is shared with Lynk & Co. Don’t forget that Volvo is another member of the Geely family.
This test mule looks a lot like the Lotus patent sketches. It also looks a lot like a Lynk & Co model. There was talk of shared technology. And this photo was taken near the Lotus HQ. To make things even more interesting: this test mule has no exhaust pipes. While all of this is a bit of a stretch, it’s not beyond the realms of possible to think that the new Lotus SUV may have a fair degree of electrification.
Unfortunately, we can’t really speculate anymore about what the SUV will or won’t have. We can only go by the information that we have and the pictures in front of us. Apart from that, we know that this SUV is likely to be built in China, debuting in China before release in Europe and Japan. There’s not even any real evidence that the Lotus SUV will be coming to North America.
But if it does, we would expect it to be priced in line with the competition. For example, Lotus has already targeted the Porsche Cayenne, which retails for $66,800+ in the US, but in reality the Macan might be a more reasonable contender since it has a more compact nature, with prices starting from $50,900. Pricing in the same ballpark, with a starting price of around $55,000 might be just the ticket.
While the idea of a (relatively) reasonably priced Lotus that has everyday practicality will appeal to a much broader audience, we can’t help but feel that traditional Lotus purists aren’t going to be overly fond of the brand’s exciting new direction. However, if Lotus wants to keep making their beautiful supercars, then they need to have some regular income coming in. While the SUV might not be to everyone’s tastes, it’s definitely a smart move from Lotus. Afterall, everyone’s jumping on the SUV bandwagon, from Porsche and BMW, to the likes of Bentley, Rolls-Royce, and Lamborghini. In that respect, the Lotus SUV was somewhat inevitable. Though McLaren aren’t jumping on that particular bandwagon, apparently.