Not even Lotus can ignore the sales potential of SUVs. Speaking to media yesterday, Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales said "The SUV is an interesting market. We're working on a concept but haven't made a decision yet." Lotus has reorganized lately, and is cash flow neutral on a path to future profitability.
Put away your pitchforks. Yes, Lotus is the last automaker we'd expect to make an SUV, but nearly every other carmaker has already given up resistance. And we surmise that even a Lotus SUV would follow the Lotus founder Colin Chapman's famous ethos of "Simplify, and add lightness." At least relatively. Or, as Gales put it, "We stick to our roots, because they are enviable roots."
That means the new Elise, coming in 2020 and destined for America, will be a lot like the current model sold in other markets. As we reported last week, Gales confirmed that the next Elise will be slightly wider to accommodate side airbags, but otherwise will have similar dimensions and power-to-weight ratio. The Evora 400 Roadster is also still planned, but won't come stateside for at least two years.
"Lotus will not fit electrical steering [systems]. They take away the steering feel."
And while the SUV ship may sail, there are still a few heretical ideas left in Hethel. In confirming that the Elise will add assisted steering in the next generation, Gales assured us it would be hydraulic. "Lotus will not fit electrical steering [systems]. They take away the steering feel."
Also off the table for Lotus is any kind of hybrid. Speaking to Autoblog, Gales explained that hybrid systems adds weight, complexity, and take up space. The first two items go against the core values at Lotus, and the third creates packaging issues. "Besides, when you have low mass it's easy to be efficient," the CEO said. He added that a pure EV might be something Lotus would consider, but not anytime in the near future.
Lotus returns to the US this year with the Evora 400. Stay tuned for our first drive review in a couple of days (spoiler alert: the car is awesome). And beyond the Evora convertible and next Elise, Gales says "You will enjoy many more cars from our company." We can't wait.