Opinion: The Lotus Evija is a Big Mistake for the Brand
You can’t just jump in the ring with Ali because you think you can boxby Robert Moore, on
The Lotus Evija, a £1.7 million ($2.1 million at current exchange rates) all-electric hypercar, has just been announced, and I’m already wondering just WTF Lotus is thinking. Sure, it probably has a lot to do with Geely backing the brand now – Lotus actually has some money to play with – but we’re talking about a brand that has been selling $50,000 - $120,000 cars for years. We’re talking about a company that posted its first self-proclaimed profit in years back in August of 2017. And, we’re talking about a company that hasn’t presented an all-new car in more than a decade (hello Lotus Evora) and has managed to soldier on by building random and slightly more potent versions of existing cars. Yet, here we are looking at a $2 million Lotus. This just doesn’t seem like the right move, and I have good reason why.
Lotus Has No Experience in This Segment
Lotus going from selling mid-range sports cars like the Exige, Evora, and Elise to a hypercar that is aimed at being the fastest in the world is a jump of epic proportions. The company is forcing its way out of a niche segment into a segment only shopped by the worlds wealthiest. Lotus builds sports cars and race cars, not supercars or hypercars. It almost reminds me of any new startup that goes right past affordable cars and attempts to enter the very competitive market with some high-priced model that nobody wants. Most of those companies fail. Maybe Lotus won’t, just because of its established brand history, but this is still a bad move in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong; I believe that if the car lives up to Lotus’ claims that it’ll be worth every penny, but it’s “target specifications” are a bit of a reach.
If Lotus Sells All 130 Examples of the Evija, It’ll bring in more Revenue than It’s Seen in the Last 10 Years Combined
In 2018, Lotus’ total revenue was £11.2 million. With Lotus charging £1.7 million for each of these things, it will bring in a total of £221 million.
That’s more revenue than Lotus has seen in at least the last 10 years combined. Now that I look at the numbers, this feels more like a money grab than anything. Especially when you consider the fact that in a recent interview with Autocar, Lotus CEO, Phil Popham, said, “The range of cars we have now runs from the mid £50,000s to well over £100,000, and we see our core future models, apart from our new hypercar, as continuing to be in the that range.”
So, Lotus isn’t planning some big hypercar revolution for the brand. It’s simply delivering a limited-production and extremely high priced hypercar that will bring in huge sums of money. It feels to me like the brand is depending on the sheer exclusivity of the model and the wealthy’s desire to own such models to continue surviving over the next 10 years. There’s also a plan to bring a new sports car into the range by the end of 2020 with sales beginning in 2021 – I guess we know where the funds for that car are coming from.
This is the First Electrified Lotus in the Current Range, and I Don’t Trust It
When an automaker introduces new technology for the first time, things almost never go right. Lotus doesn’t really have any experience with electrification let alone full-on electric vehicles. Now, I’m not saying that the Evija will be problematic, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was.
Think about what happened when every automaker designed and sold their first CVT transmissions.
They are…uh… okay now, but most first iterations of these things were clunkier than GM’s old TH350 automatic with a bad torque converter and 350,000 miles of use on stock internals. Over time, it did get better, but that’s not the point – the first new tech from automakers is almost always problematic.
I have a feeling it’s going to be the same case for Lotus. Sure, Geely is backing it and has some experience, so maybe things will work out, but I don’t think Lotus should have stepped into the hypercar segment to begin with, let alone jump into it with an all-electric hypercar with technology that’s completely new to the company. The next sports car that’s due in late 2020 won’t even be electric:
“After we’ve built our 130 hypercars we’ll concentrate on rebuilding our core sports car range. We will have a combustion-powered sports car to show you towards the end of next year, for sale after that. Beyond that car, every Lotus, in whatever segment, will have a full electric version,” said Popham in his interview with Autocar.
Future sports cars will be offered as hybrid or electric vehicles, but this technology is so new to the brand, it won’t even put it in its next sports car – a car that people have been begging for since we realized Lotus was jerking us around with special edition versions of outdated cars.
The Lotus Evija’s Target Specs Are Beyond Illogical
So, the Evija doesn’t have any confirmed specifications. As the company puts it, everything we know about the Evija, at this time, is considered “target specifications.” That’s just fancy talk to protect them if\when they can’t deliver what the promised when the Evija finally debuted. Some of the specs look really good.
Thanks to how dynamic electric motors are, 2000 PS (like 1971 horsepower or so) isn’t hard to attain with four motors – that’s not even 500 horsepower per motor.
That’s doable. A bit excessive for the real world, but certainly doable. Electric motors are very torquey, so 1,253 pound-feet (1,700 NM) isn’t really that illogical either.
Do you know what is illogical, though? The proposal that the Evija will take a full charge in 8 minutes. The Evija has a 70-kWh battery. A battery that size from any other automaker takes hours to fully charge (outside of Tesla’s supercharger network, of course.) Lotus claims this charging time is possible when an 800 kW charger is used. That charger doesn’t exist, folks, and may not exist in the immediate future. The 250-mile range seems pretty adequate for the battery size, but I imagine you’ll get a lot less if you go full throttle all the time.
Finally, the 0-60 mph sprint of under three seconds and 0-120 in under six seconds seems somewhat doable.
The Tesla Model S P100D can make it to 120 mph in six seconds, so I don’t see why this thing can’t. however, getting from 0-186 mph in under 9 seconds seems like a bit of a reach. The worlds fastest cars don’t come close – the Koenigsegg Agera makes that run in 14 seconds while the Bugatti Chiron does it in 13.6 – can an all-electric Lotus beat them to the benchmark by 4 to 5 seconds? I’ll believe it when I see it.
|Name||Lotus Evija (Type 130)|
|Powertrain||Pure electric, 4WD|
|Power||The target is to be the most powerful production car in the world, at 2,000 PS|
|Battery power||70 kw/h / 2,000 kW|
|Torque||1,700 Nm with torque vectoring|
|0-100 km/h (0-62 mph)||Under three seconds|
|0-300 km/h (0-186 mph)||Under nine seconds|
|Max speed||In excess of 200 mph (320 km/h)|
|All-electric range (WLTP Combined)||Approximately 250 miles (400 km)|
|Charging time (350kW charger)||18 mins|
|Production run||Maximum of 130 cars|
|Overall dimensions (L/W/H)||4,459 / 2,000 / 1,122 mm|
|Price||£1.5m-2m + duties and taxes|
|Reservation process||£250k refundable deposit secures a production slot|
|Start of Production||2020|
We Deserve More Than a Limited-Production Electric Hyper Car
Every single time Lotus announces or teases a new product launch we get on the edge of our chairs just hoping that we’ll finally see a new sports car. It’s always some hopped-up version of the Evora or Exige instead, though. We’ve been let down in that regard more times than I can count.
That said, we were really hoping for a new sports car before Lotus decided to jump off the deep end and try to market a $2 million, limited production car.
I’m not saying that there isn’t a place in the world for it, but you’re supposed to work up to this kind of thing not dive into things head first while your existing lineup continues to age and go sour. Hell, the Elise has been fermenting so long you might get drunk if you lick one.
Seriously, though, I’m happy to finally see something different from Lotus, but I really think the Evija is the wrong move for right now. Maybe in the future, it would make sense, but right now, I think it’s too much car for the company to handle. There’s too much new technology, and the price tag just feels way too high for something with a Lotus badge. I’m sure the quality will be there but as I said before – Lotus sells $120,000 cars, not $2 million cars. I mentioned earlier that if Lotus manages to sell all 130 examples, it’ll beat its total revenue for at least the last 10 years combined. Well, Lotus is charging £250,000 for each reservation. If all 130 build slots are reserved (for Lotus’ sake, I hope they are) that alone will bring in £32,500,000 – nearly three times the revenue it brought in for 2017. I guess I just can’t get past the fact that this feels like a shady money grab and little more than a ploy to finance the company off the whim of the rich and shameless. Maybe I’m wrong but maybe not. After all, when things seem too good to be true, they usually are. I’m really looking forward to seeing how all this turns out.
Read our full review on the 2020 Lotus SUV.
Read our full review on the 2018 Lotus Exige Sport 410.
Read our full review on the 2017 Lotus Exige Sport 380.