James Brodie 2019-04-16 08:25
A new conventionally powered Lotus sports car will follow its new all-electric hypercar to market in 2020
The British brand announced on the eve of the Shanghai Motor Show that it will reveal a high-end EV, the Type 130, before the end of 2019. But speaking exclusively to Auto Express, Lotus’s CEO Phil Popham revealed that a new, conventionally powered sports car would follow in 2020 – and that it would be based on an all-new platform that the company is developing, instead of its trusted but relatively elderly extruded aluminium chassis.
“We have a pretty ambitious business plan for the next five years,” Popham said. “The design direction you see from that car [Type 130] will give some design clues as to what’s coming from Lotus in the future. We’re busy now investing in a pretty aggressive business plan that will deliver an all-new sports car next year. It’ll be shown towards the end of next year and go on sale some time after that. We are investing in new platforms as well.”
“We’re all about producing cars for the driver,” he added. “Our first new car is an electric hypercar. Our next car is going to be an all-new sports car. We’re developing an all-new sports car platform.”
Popham indicated that while the Type 130 may be revealed ahead of the sports car, it may not actually go on sale until after it. And he acknowledged that the sports car would have a combustion engine. “All electric cars are part of our future,” he said. “The next new car, which is coming quite quickly, won’t be an all-electric car – unlike the hypercar, which will be. Beyond that, whatever cars we have will have BEV [pure-electric] derivatives. It’s not the only propulsion system we’re working on, but BEV will be part of it.”
He also suggested that Lotus could switch engine suppliers – perhaps utilising other powerplants from within Geely’s rapidly expanding line-up of brands. But he insisted that chassis and platforms would still be bespoke, or at least have significant Lotus input during development to ensure their suitability.
“Our engines at the moment come from Toyota,” Popham said, “but we will have access to powertrains that exist within the group today and powertrains under development. But we’re not restricted to that. We’re very free to collaborate with and source from other manufacturers.
“What we won’t do, however, is just stick a badge on a group product. We can get access to platforms, engineering expertise and resource. But if we are to produce a car in a new segment, it’s got to be true to the DNA of Lotus. We’ve got to be involved right from the start of the engineering of any new platform.”
The Type 130 nomenclature points to other models already sitting in the firm’s timeline – because it leaves four ‘Types’ empty after the last Lotus to use the naming pattern, the ill-fated Type 125 Exos track day car. Lotus has long been linked to an SUV project and when asked if such a vehicle could feature in product plans, Popham refused to rule out the possibility.
“I wouldn’t discount anything,” he said. “We’re a premium brand, not a volume brand, with premium products, premium price, and a premium offering. But as for the segments we can go into, I wouldn’t discount anything from sedans, GTs and crossovers to SUVs.
“The key is that you’ve got to be able to produce a car that’s true to the DNA, that is for drivers. That means different things in different segments, of course – but nevertheless, it’s got to be a Lotus, it’s got to appeal and it’s got to make us money. If it can’t do those three things then we won’t go into the segment.”
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