Lotus boss Jean-Marc Gales believes there is a gap in the market for a “lightweight, good-handling SUV” as he plots the revitalised sports car maker’s future model plans.
Gales has confirmed that the first Lotus to appear in a next-generation line-up will be a replacement for the Elise in 2020, followed soon after by its more hardcore Exige sibling. A new Evora will complete the new range of sports cars by 2022.
By this point, Lotus’s SUV may well be ready for production as a fourth model line, with the Norfolk-based company joining the likes of Porsche, Jaguar, Maserati, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Rolls-Royce and Bentley in recognising the benefits an SUV can have in boosting profitability.
Gales told Autocar recently that work on a prototype SUV model had started. The car has not yet been signed off for production, nor a design finalised, but if the company makes a success of its turnaround plans, the SUV is “four or five years away, as with the rest of the new range”, said Gales.
The most likely option for the development of the SUV is for Lotus to work with its Chinese engineering partner, Goldstar Heavy Industrial. Gales said development work on the prototype was not something Lotus had started alone.
However the car is developed and made, Gales said it would be “a nice addition to the line-up” and noted that “no one makes a lightweight, good-handling SUV”. He added: “It’s a niche, and it looks well positioned.”
Gales believes the SUV has the potential to double or even treble Lotus’s planned annual sales volume of 4000 units — more than double today’s figure — once its next generation of sports cars is in production early in the next decade for sale in all major global markets.