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Lotus SUV first from new Chinese base
Production line in Wuhan to build new Lotus models, including Type 132 electric SUV
3 Sep 2021
By MATT BROGAN
LOTUS has discussed further details of its new model rollout at the ‘breaking-ground’ ceremony of its new production facility in Wuhan, China.
It says the new plant will “accelerate innovation and oversee the manufacture of exciting new lifestyle models for global markets”, which includes a five-seat SUV model codenamed Type 132.
The sporty, family-sized SUV will take on the likes of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio and Porsche Macan when it is launched in 2022 and will be the first of four models slated for production at the new Group Lotus facility.
Alongside vehicle production, the Wuhan facility is expected to accommodate the company’s new ‘intelligent technology’ subsidiary, Lotus Technology, and the company’s corporate headquarters from 2024. Vehicle production is set to commence before the end of this year.
Together, the expansive site will advance research and development of fields including batteries and energy management, electric motors, electronic control systems, intelligent driving (including autonomous driving capabilities), intelligent manufacturing, and more, says Lotus.
The announcement speaks to the development of the company’s first all-electric sportscar codenamed Type 135, due in 2026.
Alongside the Type 132 and 135, Lotus is also expected to produce a four-door coupe (codenamed Type 133) before 2023 and a smaller SUV (codenamed Type 134) by 2025.
These models are in addition to the already-announced Evija all-electric hypercar and Emira sportscar, the last petrol-powered sportscar to be produced by the Lotus brand.
“This is an important day in the transformation of the Lotus business and brand,” said Group Lotus CEO, Feng Qingfeng at the breaking-ground ceremony.
“Lotus Technology will accelerate the innovation which has always been at the heart of the business.
“Together, the Chinese and UK teams will empower our journey towards an expended, intelligent and electric future, achieving ambitions and goals that have been in the making for 73 years of the Lotus brand.”
Since being founded by Colin Chapman in 1948, Lotus has been renowned for its commitment to the purity of the driving experience.
Its lightweight construction technologies and aerodynamics have led the industry, while Lotus-tuned ride and handling has been a prized moniker of not only Lotus, but many other marques, including Aston Martin, Corvette, DeLorean, Dodge, Ford, Hyundai, Isuzu, Proton, Talbot and Vauxhall.
Lotus, now backed by China’s Geely Holding Group, will continue to invest in the research and development of these prized characteristics, said Mr Qingfeng, while also providing “a more innovative and exciting driving experience”.
As part of its 10-year technological development target dubbed Vision80, Lotus said it aims to assist drivers to “perform as well as an F1 driver on track” while also increasing the safety of its models through “advanced software and hardware”.
Most of the lifestyle models produced at the new Wuhan facility will ride on Lotus Premium architecture, a modular platform supporting wheelbases between 2,899 and 3,100mm.
The future-ready platform can underpin medium and large sedan and SUV bodies. It uses 92-102kWh batteries compatible with the latest 800-volt high-speed EV charging infrastructure. Sport models are said to offer 0-100km/h times of less than three seconds.
The new Lotus facility in Wuhan covers an area of over one-million square metres and has the capacity to produce up to 150,000 vehicles annually. It will feature an integrated 16-corner test track designed to assess vehicles at speeds up to 230km/h.
“Transforming Lotus from a UK sportscar company to a truly global performance car company has always been at the core of Vision80,” said Lotus Cars Managing Director, Matt Windle.
“The launch of Lotus Technology is a major milestone on the road to making that a reality, while adhering to the unwavering Lotus principles of pure performance, efficiency, motorsport success, and, above all, being ‘For the Drivers’”.
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