Strange times are these when the originators of the practice of sporty automotive lightweighting talk about building a utility vehicle.
Nonetheless, speaking to the UK’s Auto Express, Lotus Cars CEO Jean-Marc Gales has confirmed that by 2019, there ought to be a Lotus SUV trotting about in China. Depending on the ute’s popularity there, it could be brought into the European market, as well.
The confirmation of a future Lotus SUV is even more unfathomable to us than the idea of such a vehicle coming from the likes of Bentley or Lamborghini. While those firms are also small when compared to – for instance – their parent Volkswagen Auto Group, Lotus Cars is 2,000-units-per-annum small. What do they figure they’ve got to go cashing in on a hot market for?
And then, as we’ve said, there’s the fact that Bentley and Lamborghini are children of a far larger, expansion-hungry parent. Lotus Cars belongs to a comparatively small, completely anonymous (at least in the West) Malaysian corporation named DRB-HICOM.
Nonetheless, a Lotus SUV is coming – to China, anyway. Gales told Auto Express that this Lotus SUV would be “much lighter and faster than any other SUV currently on offer. Currently SUVs are too big and heavy. We want to get SUVs to be light and fast,” as-is Lotus Cars’ entire mission statement. “The nearest rival will be the Porsche Macan – but ours will be better.” The utility vehicle will have a hybrid powertrain available to satisfy Chinese buyers, and if it proves successful enough to trek to Europe, will also offer a diesel mill.
In other news, Gales said that he’d like to see Lotus Cars‘ sportscar sales double, from 2,000 for the year of 2014, to 4,000 per year, although he didn’t offer any hypothetical timeline for that expansion. That’s negating sales of the confirmed Lotus SUV, which would mean even more units per-annum.
Gales further shared with Auto Express that the Lotus Elise, Exige, and Evora sportscars will see an update before the arrival of the Lotus SUV, making them “easier to live with – lower side sills to aid exit and entry and lighter steering.” On the whole, however, the cars will remain essentially the same, including their Toyota-sourced powerplants. Gales ruled out the possibility of any of these models seeing a hybrid powertrain.