Lotus today takes its first steps back into the big time under Chinese ownership with a sneak peek at the Shanghai Auto Show of its next new model, what will be the Norfolk firm’s first all-new car since the Evora was launched in 2008.
So what has Hethel been spending owner Geely’s millions on? It’s a “hypercar”, it’s all electric, is called Type 130 and, says Hethel, is set to become another Lotus gamechanger.
“Type 130 will be the most dynamically accomplished Lotus in our history. It marks a turning point for our brand and is a showcase of what we are capable of and what is to come from Lotus,” says recently installed Lotus Cars CEO, ex-Land Rover man Phil Popham.
Lotus, which is flagging up the Type 130 as the first all-electric hypercar from a British manufacturer, says the car will be formally unveiled at an event in London later this year. Other than that, details are sketchy.
Most likely is that Type 130 will be Lotus’s hero model, a high-profile flagship produced in very limited numbers to sell for a seven-figure price. Autocar magazine reports it will be a carbon-fibre bodied, four-wheel-drive hypercar with electric motors delivering more than 1,000bhp and a range of up to 250 miles. The powertrain is thought to have been developed in conjunction with Williams Advanced Engineering.
Lotus’s teaser sketch shows a sleek and low car with short nose, long tail and teardrop-style cabin for maximum aerodynamic benefit. On the pic alone, rivals would seem to include the McLaren Speedtail and the Aston Martin Valkyrie.
This year’s Shanghai Auto Show also marks the planned return of Lotus to international competition with the reveal of a new Evora GT4 race car. Built and developed at Hethel, the car is being shown as a concept ahead of a first race in 2020. The car will be run as factory entry with two Chinese drivers. The last generation of Evora GT4 won races in the British GT series, Dubai 24hrs, Barcelona 24hrs, European GT4 series, Pirelli World Championship and in 2018 was runner up in the Swedish GT Series.
The new hypercar, a return to motorsport and the setting up of a Lotus Driving Academy in China are all part of a plan to reinvigorate the 71-year-old world championship-winning brand under the ownership of Chinese automotive giant Geely, which also owns Volvo. The headline-grabbing moves are set to presage a new series-production model range which is thought to include the first Lotus SUV.