Lotus Flexes its Chinese Backing With a New Hypercar
It’s called the Type 130, and it could be the first all-new Lotus model in 11 yearsby Kirby, on
Lotus made its presence felt at Auto Shanghai 2019 in the cheekiest of ways, revealing a teaser sketch of the Type 130, the automaker’s first-ever fully electric hypercar. You would have thought that Lotus would drop a bombshell in Shanghai by revealing the actual Type 130, but the British automaker is saving that for a rainy day. The actual date of the Type 130’s unveiling has yet to be finalized, but Lotus has indicated that it will take place in London “later this year.” It seems like a waste of a good auto show reveal, but we trust that Lotus has something special planned for the début of its first-ever hypercar. Expect that debut to be a spectacle, not only because of the Type 130’s stature as an EV hypercar but, just as important, its place as the first all-new Lotus model since 2008.
What is the Lotus Type 130?
“McLaren, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mercedes-AMG, Aston Martin. They’re all just spokes on the wheel. This one’s on top, and that one’s on top, and on and on it goes, crushing those on the ground. I’m not going to stop the wheel; I’m going to break the wheel.”
In the back of my head, I’m imagining Lotus CEO Phil Popham doing his best Daenerys Targaryen impersonation when Lotus executives and decision-makers started talking about developing a hypercar. This is big news on so many fronts, not the least is it’s a Lotus. Mind you, this is the same company that has gone over a decade without introducing an all-new model. This is the same that promised not too long ago — seven years ago — that it was overhauling its sports car lineup with as many as five new models. This is the same company that was in the dumps before Chinese auto giant Geely swooped in and bought it when it was on the brink of folding in 2017. It’s the auto industry’s ultimate rags to riches story, and the story is unfolding before our eyes.
To be clear, Lotus hasn’t divulged any details about the Type 130 hypercar other than the vague teaser sketch of the model’s silhouette. While we’re excited to see what that sketch ends up looking, there’s still a moment for us to sit back and let all of this sink in. Lotus’ plan to develop a hypercar isn’t a rumor anymore. It’s actually happening. From the looks of it, too, the Type 130 is going to be a flat-out showstopper.
For now, here’s what we know so far.
The Type 130 name has historical roots within Lotus, specifically the use of the word “Type” to denote a ground-breaking development in the industry.
Lotus first used it in the Type 14, the name given to the world’s first composite monocoque production car, the 1957 Elite. Lotus has also used the “Type” nomenclature in the world of Formula One, including the Type 25, the world’s first fully-stressed monocoque F1 car, which also happened to be the first Lotus F1 racer to win the Formula One title in 1963. There’s the Type 72, arguably one of the most successful F1 cars in history, winning the title in 1970, 1972, and 1973. More recently, Lotus used the Type 111 name on the 1995 Lotus Elise, the world’s first aluminum and bonded extrusion construction production car. Given the importance of the “Type” name within Lotus, you can be sure that Lotus has something ground-breaking in store for everyone now that it has bestowed the Type 130 name on its first-ever all-electric hypercar.
Truth is, the hypercar will carry a different name.
The “Type 130” is likely its codename, similar to the Mercedes-AMG Project One before it became the ONE and the Aston Martin AM-RB 001 before it evolved into the Valkyrie.
There have been reports that the Lotus hypercar will be called the Omega, a fitting name for a debate-ending, discussion-snuffing, all-electric hypercar. Other reports indicate that the hypercar is already in development and that it will have at least 1,000 horsepower on tap to go with an all-wheel-drive system and a battery pack that could provide enough juice to last 250 miles before it needs to be charged.
The all-electric side of the Type 130 — should we start calling it the Omega? — will be handled by Lotus and Williams Advanced Engineering. The two sides struck a partnership to work together in developing “advanced propulsion technologies.” Williams’ involvement in Formula E racing makes it a suitable partner for Lotus, specifically in the fields of electrification. Williams can take care of that aspect of the hypercar’s development, leaving Lotus to work on what it knows best: advanced composites, lightweight structures, compact packaging, and aerodynamics. It also helps that Lotus’ new sister brands — Volvo and Polestar — have made a lot of progress in the world of electrification. These are other resources that Lotus could tap into now that it’s a part of Geely.
As for the teaser sketch, well, it doesn’t reveal much other than show a silhouette of the supercar’s side profile.
As it is, a lot of hypercar design elements are present in the silhouette, including the short, sloping nose, the cockpit-style roof, and the curved body lines.
All these signs point to a hypercar that’s about as aerodynamically enhanced as it can possibly be. Little wonder, then, that Popham calls it the “most dynamically accomplished Lotus” ever.
More details are obviously welcome at this point, but we’re not going to rush Lotus into releasing them until it is ready to do so. The Type 130 is arguably the most important car Lotus will have in its history so it needs to hit all the right notes in its development to make sure that the exotic lives up to the hype.
Fortunately, the automaker now has the resources and the financial backing to reclaim its status as one of the première performance car brands in the world. At the very least, it can now show the auto world what it’s fully capable of with some stability in its corner. If the Type 130 ends up living up to the hype, it could serve its other purpose as a “turning point” model for a company that has spent the better part of the last decade mired in mediocrity. If that isn’t incentive enough to turn up the heat on the Type 130, I don’t know what’s going to do it.
|Mercedes-AMG Project One||Aston Martin Valkyrie||Ferrari LaFerrari||McLaren P1||Porsche 918|
|I.C Engine||1.6-litre V6 turbo||6.5-litre V12||6.2-litre V12||3.8-litre V8 twin-turbo||4.6-liter V-8|
|Electric Motor||3x direct drive electric motors||single direct drive electric motor||single direct drive electric motor||single direct drive electric motor||3x direct drive electric motors|
|Total max power||986bhp +||986bhp +||950bhp||903bhp||875 bhp|
|Total max torque||N/A||N/A||664lb ft||664lb ft||944 lb ft|
|Transmission||8-speed semi-automatic||7-speed semi-automatic||7-sp dual-clutch||7-sp dual-clutch||7-sp dual-clutch|
|Weight (kerb)||N/A||1000kg (est)||1585kg||1547kg||1675kg|
|0-62mph||N/A||N/A||less than 3 seconds||2.8 seconds (claimed)||2.6 seconds|
|Top speed||217 +||N/A||217mph (limited)||217mph||214 mph (claimed)|
|Price (from new)||£2.07 million (plus local taxes)||£2.5-3 million (est)||£1.15 million||£866,000||£781,155|
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