Last week, Lotus Evija made its world debut in London. Frenzy was whipped up by a convoy of twelve historic and current Lotus Cars – all yellow – around London and outside the venue.
Evija is a bold statement of intent from Lotus, illustrating the company’s ambition. The target output of 2000 PS would make it the world’s most powerful series production road car and it is the first all-electric British hypercar and first Lotus with an electric powertrain.
Perhaps the location – Royal Horticultural Halls, Victoria – was a harbinger of the resurgent Lotus. Without a new base model for 11 years, we were, frankly, surprised by the reveal. More than 350 VIP guests including racing drivers, the Press, social media wannabees and favoured customers attended, together with a delegation of senior figures from Geely Auto, controlling shareholder of Group Lotus.
Phil Popham, Lotus Cars CEO, and Russell Carr, Design Director, presented the two-seater EV hypercar. With his bosses present, the CEO described it as a bold statement of intent from Lotus and illustrative of its ambition under Geely. He added: “Evija will re-establish Lotus as a leader in terms of engineering and design. It is a hypercar that is built ‘For The Drivers’.”
Russell Carr commented: “The Evija is beyond anything Lotus has ever done… beyond anything I’ve ever done. We have created something beautiful, something new, dramatic and unique.”
The Evija is the most powerful road car in the history of Lotus, and sets a new standard for Lotus driving performance. It is the first all-electric British hypercar and the first Lotus with an electric powertrain.
They set a target production of 130 cars that will be produced at Hethel, UK, the home of Lotus since 1966.
Lotus Cars in the Dumps
The Lotus Evora was the last new design unveiled in 2008 as a 2+2 sports car with a mid-mounted, transverse 3.5-litre V6 engine. Various more powerful variants have been produced over the years, the last being the Evora GT430 in 2017 but essentially, there has been no new Lotus base design for more than a decade.
Lotus Management Woes
Much of the reason for Lotus’s morose state has been its management morass.
After founder, Colin Chapmen, died in 1983, Lotus cars has been fraught with trouble starting with its involvement in the DeLorean Motor Company scandal and tax investigations. The bankrupt company was saved by David Wickins and investors from JCB, private investors and a merchant bank. In 1985, General Motors and Toyota controlled Lotus and by 1986, GM owned the whole company. In 1993, Lotus was sold to Romano Artiolli who also owned Bugatti. Subsequently, Artiolli was bankrupt and sold a majority stake in Lotus to Proton Cars of Malaysia. Finally, Geely Cars of China bought 51% controlling shares in 2017.
Former Senior Vice-President for Commercial & Brand at Ferrari, Dany Bahar, became CEO in 2009 but was terminated in 2012 for “conduct unbecoming”. Aslam Farikullah was appointed as chief operating officer. Ambitious plans for several new models were cancelled. It was another two years before Jean Marc Gales replaced Bahar as CEO in 2014 and Lotus made its first profit in decades in 2017. Gales left the company in June 2018 for “personal reasons” and was replaced by Feng Qingfeng from China. Four months later, in October 2018, Phil Popham was named CEO of Lotus Cars with Feng Qingfeng remaining in charge of Group Lotus.
From the video below, we hear how the name should be pronounced. Hypercars are expected to have difficult names to add to the cachet viz. Pagani Huayra, Lamborghini Huracán and Koenigsegg Jesko. Now, we have the Lotus Evija, pronounced “ee-vai-yaa” and derived from the Hebrew meaning “to breathe or living” as for Eve, the female companion of Adam and alluding to being “first in existence” as this is the first car launched under the Geely management. Conveniently, the tradition of names beginning with the letter ‘E’ continues at Lotus.
Initially set at 1,000 bhp during the ‘Type-130’ project concept, the figures were raised when the competition Rimac C_Two promised 1,888 bhp and Pininfarina Battista targets 1,900 bhp. Of course, ‘bhp’ means nothing with electric motors as the brake horse power is the mechanical horsepower available at the shaft at specified rpm and full load current (0.746 kW = 1 HP). As the load current varies, it gets complicated and you can specify any power output you like, as long as your processors can calculate the mathematics. Brake horse power expresses the engine power without any power losses, while HP is BHP minus the power losses. One PS is about 98.6% of a brake horsepower and they are virtually interchangeable.
However, it sounds better for the world’s most powerful production car to target 2,000 PS than the equivalent 1,972 bhp! More impressive is the torque of 1,700 Nm (1,253 lb ft) spread over the four-wheel drive.
Maximum cruising range is 250 miles, which is similar to that for a thirsty V12 combustion engine, if you’re gentle. Quick charge takes 18 minutes if you can plug into a special 350 kW charger. This is good news for customers living in the county of Kent because the only 350 kW public charger in the UK is in Kent!
Video: Lotus Evija World’s Most Powerful Production Car
Geely is China’s third-largest carmaker and also owner of Volvo, Polestar, start-up carsharers Lynk & Co and the new London black cab company. All those are also into electric powertrains. Look out!: Tesla, Rimac and Pininfarina.
It looks like Lotus has finally figured out that the future is not longer “cheap and cheerful”.
Author’s Biography: Melvyn Teillol-Foo (MTF)
Dr Melvyn Teillol-Foo is a contributor on AlphaLuxe web magazine. He was former CEO of PuristSPro.com horology discussion fora. He blends his scientific medical objectivity from the pharmaceutical industry with purist passion, in his musings about watches, travel, wine, food and other epicurean delights.
His travelogue ‘Lazing’ and feasting ‘Grazing’ series of articles have now passed into “mythic legend” on the original ‘ThePuristS.com’ website. Those were the halcyon days when he was “rich and famous” that he remembers with bittersweet fondness.
Dr Teillol-Foo is a quoted enthusiast on the watch industry, appearing in feature articles and interviews by Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Sunday Times (London), Chronos (Japan), Citizen Hedonist (France) and other publications. He has authored articles for magazines like International Watch (iW) – both U.S. & Chinese editions, ICON (Singapore), August Man (Singapore), Comfort (China) and The Watch (Hong Kong).