Before these newcomers, Lotus will launch the last variation on the current Evora platform, a new sports model. It will appear late next year as a very driver-focused package but it will also be significantly easier to get in and out of than current models and have much improved ergonomics. Alongside this, CEO Phil Popham has expressed a need to overhaul the brand’s rather limited connectivity technology, so we could see new Lotuses ditching the usual aftermarket stereo systems for a bespoke infotainment set-up.
Planning a decade ahead is a given for most car makers but a strategic rarity for Lotus. It has been enabled by the Vision 80 investment programme led by Popham. In the past, the company has typically had the resources to develop only one car at a time. Now it can realise a complete product plan.
The scale of this investment has been estimated at around £1.5 billion by Bloomberg, although this figure is said to be “very conservative” by a Lotus spokesman. That sum should be enough to pay for the new architecture, whose structural concept will be similar to the current platform.
Lotus will retain the rivet-bonded alloy core concept, which, insiders say, provides excellent overall stiffness and allows plenty of scope to increase local rigidity for different models. These qualities will be essential if the high-grade driving dynamics promised by the company’s ‘for the driver’ brand ambition are to be achieved.
The rivet-bonded approach also suits Lotus’s sales goals. Although the firm is aiming to increase sales sixfold – from last year’s 1630 cars to around 10,000 by 2029 – this vehicle construction method reportedly remains the best solution for Lotus’s relatively low volumes.
The rivet-bonded and composite structure is also light – essential to the Lotus mission – and its detail design will benefit from the brand’s 25 years of production experience with this technology.
As before, a mix of materials will be used, probably across a wider palette that includes carbonfibre and several metals. A key ambition will be to reduce the time required to build each car, say insiders. That will be achieved by reducing the time it takes to bond each structure and also by cutting the number of hours required to assemble a car, the corollary of which should be improved quality.
Containing costs will be aided by the use of ‘keep zones’, the term Lotus engineers use to describe the three-dimensional slices of architecture that will be shared among all cars using this new platform. One example is the position of the front wheel relative to the driver’s seat, a high-investment zone of the platform that it makes sense to retain across all versions. But the ‘keep zones’ strategy doesn’t preclude tailoring the wheelbase and track to suit the needs of different models, insiders say.