New electric SUV to be Australia’s quickest: Lotus Eletre

The first SUV from Lotus – and its second electric car – promises to be the quickest-accelerating SUV in Australia, and is expected to undercut its rivals on price, even petrol ones.

The new battery-powered 2024 Lotus Eletre promises to be the fastest accelerating SUV in Australia when it goes on sale in the second quarter of 2024 (April to June) – priced from about $250,000 plus on-road costs.

British sports-car specialist Lotus says its first-ever SUV and first series-production electric vehicle – its first electric car was the multimillion-dollar Evija hypercar – will be capable of 0-100km/h in 2.95 seconds and a top speed of 265km/h in Eletre R form. 

Lotus Australia says it has received about 50 pre-orders for the Eletre, with estimated pricing of $250,000 to $300,000 plus on-road costs.

The Eletre is the first of four all-new electric vehicles coming from Lotus in the next four years as the company targets 150,000 global sales annually by 2028.

MORE: 2024 Lotus Eletre review: International first drive

This unprecedented new model push is the result of an estimated $2.8 billion investment by its parent company, Chinese car giant Geely, and is aimed at transforming the niche British sports-car maker into a globally-relevant luxury-performance electric-car brand.

Lotus will follow the Eletre large SUV with a large four-door sedan in 2024, a mid-size SUV in 2025 and a two-door, two-seater sports car in 2026 or 2027.

The Eletre’s 800-volt electric architecture includes a 112kWh battery pack and dual electric motors, and will also underpin the sedan and the mid-size SUV, possibly with different battery capacities, power outputs and wheelbases.

The sports coupe will sit on a heavily-customised version of this platform that shifts the battery pack from the floor to behind the front seats in an effort to situate the driver as close to the ground as possible.

It’s not yet known if the sports coupe will be rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. 

Lotus’s goal of 150,000 global sales target includes 50,000 in North America and a similar number in China.

The Asia-Pacific region, which includes Australia but not China, is expected to contribute 15,000, of which Australia is pencilled in for 2000 to 3000, company executives say.

In 2022, Lotus sold just 640 cars worldwide, including 62 in Australia. In the 75 years since the company was founded, total sales are estimated at 110,000 units.

Lotus Cars Australia says it aims to offer three Eletre variants in Australia – Eletre, Eletre S and Eletre R – under $300,000 plus on-road costs and anticipates customer deliveries beginning in the second quarter of 2024 (April to June).

At this price, the Lotus Eletre will be a relative performance bargain compared to its competitors, both petrol and electric – such as the Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT, Lamborghini Urus, Aston Martin DBX, and in overseas markets – as it is no longer sold in Australia – the Tesla Model X Plaid.

Lotus Cars Australia chief operating officer Richard Gibbs told Drive dozens of Australians have already placed deposits even though final pricing has not been locked in.

“I’m hoping we’ll have final pricing within the next month”, Mr Gibbs told Drive, ahead of the Eletre’s European launch in early July 2023.

“So starting with the Eletre up to the R we’re probably talking about a $250,000 to $300,000 range plus on-road costs. The three model span will hopefully sit within that price range.”

“In terms of expression of interest deposits, we have over 50 right now.”

Mr Gibbs said Australia is hoping for between 100 and 150 examples in the first 12 months, but if demand exceeds that, “we may well seek more,” the executive said.

All three Eletre variants are powered by two electric motors, one on each axle.

The Eletre and Eletre S have twin 225kW motors producing a combined 450kW and 710Nm. Lotus claims the Eletre and Eletre S can hit 100km/h from standstill in 4.5 seconds, and drive for 600km on a single charge.

The Eletre R performance hero has a more powerful 450kW rear motor, giving it a total system output of 675kW and 985Nm. Lotus claims the Eletre R will do 0-100km/h in 2.95 seconds and 0-200km/h in 9.5 seconds. The Eletre R’s driving range claim is 490km.

These performance numbers outshine the Aston Martin DBX707, the current petrol-powered high-performance SUV king, which claims 0-100km/h in 3.3 seconds and 0-200km/h in 11.4 seconds. 

Other large SUV rivals include the Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT coupe (3.3sec), the twin-turbo V8 Lamborghini Urus (3.6sec), the Audi RS Q8 twin-turbo V8 (3.8sec), the BMW X5 M and X6 M duo (3.8sec), and the Bentley Bentayga Speed W12 (3.9sec).

The Lotus’s performance numbers were achieved with optional 23-inch Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres in place of the standard 22-inch Pirelli P Zeros, the company has said.

All of these rivals have turbocharged petrol engines, making the Lotus the only high-performance electric vehicle in the ‘large SUV’ category now the Tesla Model X has been withdrawn from sale in Australia. 

The nearest electric performance rival is the Kia EV6 GT which is said to do 0-100km/h in 3.5 seconds, and the Tesla Model Y Performance (3.6sec). Both these cars are considerably cheaper (around $100,000) but also smaller and have less equipment. 

Lotus would not lay claim to the fastest SUV title in Australia if Tesla had not made the decision in May 2023 to withdraw the Model X Plaid for sale here – and scrap plans for a right-hand-drive version – even though it remains on sale in other markets.

It has three electric motors good for 761kW combined. Tesla claims the Model X Plaid takes just 2.6 seconds to go from 0-100km/h and has a top speed of 262km/h.

The post New electric SUV to be Australia’s quickest: Lotus Eletre appeared first on Drive.

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