Update - 07.08.2019
Lotus will introduce its 2,000hp Evija to the US at this month’s Monterey Car Week, before it heads down the road to be placed on show at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Lotus has already received an order from a US customer for its 1,190hp-per-tonne electric hypercar - which, in case you’ve forgotten, attempts to remain true to Chapman’s adage by being the lightest of its kind. It’s the first of several expected £250k deposits from the States, with the market likely to account for a decent portion of the 130 cars set to be produced entirely at Hethel.
The Evija headed to California this month is a show car, meaning it’s being used purely to illustrate the future Rimac C_Two and Pininfarina Battista rival’s form. But Lotus is already working towards producing the first running prototypes, with ambitions for the finished Evija to have the lightest and most energy-dense electric powertrain in a road car – the details of which you can find in the earlier story below. After that, a Nurburgring lap record attempt is on the cards, with Lotus’ principle platform engineer Louis Kerr recently brazenly telling PH that he expects the Evija to “be comfortably quicker than the NIO EP9 there”.
For now, however, the Geely-owned British marque will set about building interest in its first EV around the globe. America and Europe are the obvious initial ports of call, but expect China and the surrounding Asian countries to also be of significant interest, what with EV demand skyrocketing there thanks to ever-tightening emissions limits. Whatever your thoughts of an EV Lotus, the Evija should at least give the company a significant boost in global awareness, with numbers big enough to bring eyes to the brand that perhaps would have never looked twice at a back-to-basics sports car. And while numbers alone might not be the sort of stuff to get PHers excited, it ought to provide Lotus with the clout it needs to get its next-gen Elise project going.
Original story - 17.07.2019
Meaning 'the first in existence' or 'the living one', the name Evija (pronounced 'ev-eye-a') might seem a strange choice for the latest model in a half century catalogue. For Lotus, though, tonight's unveiling of its all-new, all-electric hypercar marks the start of what the company hopes will be an entirely new chapter in its storied history. And not a moment too soon. Lotus's first genuinely new car since the Evora was unveiled over a decade ago comes just as the industry as a whole begins the lengthy process of turning the page on the internal combustion era.
With the electric powertrains of the future likely to offer a near-homogenous experiences in every aspect from power delivery to audible output, the key differences between offerings from Stuttgart, Detroit and Hethel will soon, more than ever, lie in their dynamic prowess. Luckily for the Norfolk firm, handling, agility, balance and poise have long been its calling card and, with the weight of battery tech set to be a crucial factor for the foreseeable future, its mantra of added lightness offers it another crucial leg up on the competition.
Quite aside from the cachet of a top-tier hypercar and its ramifications for the marque's own future range, the lessons learned from the successful development of the Evija could well trickle down to other brands residing under Geely's extensive umbrella. Viewed in this way, the investment required to develop a bespoke hyper-EV, a car to go toe-to-toe with the likes of the Rimac C_Two and Pininfarina Battista in what must already feels like an over saturated market niche, appears eminently reasonable.
Not that the Evija can't hold its own. The usual, mind blowing performance projections put it right in the appropriate ballpark. Its 2,000hp trumps not just the Battista's 1,925hp, but every other series production car ever made, too; a 0-62mph time of "under three seconds" and top speed of "over 200mph" are comparable to the Italian's sub-two and 217mph; and a target range of around 250 miles is almost identical. Arguably none of those figures are the ones to focus on when it comes to the Lotus, though. The realm of hypercars, and electric ones at that, might be uncharted territory for the brand, but staying true to its historic values will surely put it on the right path.
To that end, while weight figures for the Pininfarina remain elusive, and the Rimac on which it is based tips the scales at 1,950kg, Lotus has its sights set on a total mass of just 1,680kg. That's only 300kg heavier than an Evora and a featherweight figure for a car carrying enough batteries to offer the performance of the Evija. Or hopes it will, rather, everything being theoretical until it's proven by one of the 130 production examples set to be produced when the Hethel line swings into action next year.
When it does, the Evija will become the first Lotus road car to feature a one-piece carbon fibre monocoque chassis. It will boast the lightest, most energy dense electric power package ever fitted to a road car: a 2,000kW system, eight times more powerful than a Formula E car, developed in partnership with Williams Advanced Engineering. Mid-mounted immediately behind the two-seat cabin, the batteries will supply their power to four of Integral Powertrain's electric motors, can accept an 800kW charge to fully replenish their reserves in just nine minutes and have been designed to be easily replaced with future, more advanced alternatives.
The car can be driven in one of five modes - Range, City, Tour, Sport or Track. In the latter, an active rear spoiler and F1-style Drag Reduction System will both be automatically deployed, working along with the car's sculpted Venturi tunnels, bi-plane front splitter and rear diffuser to optimise airflow around the machine.
Those features are parts of a full-carbon-fibre form, said to signal the start of a contemporary new design language which will evolve and reappear on the marque's future high-performance cars. For the Evija, the bodywork will be suspended just 105mm above the ground, riding on three of Multimatic's in-board adaptive dampers per axle and 20- and 21-inch Magnesium wheels front and rear. These are shod with Pirelli Trofeo R tyres and equipped with a forged aluminium AP Racing braking system with carbon ceramic discs all around.
The cabin is accessed through two dihedral doors and features a 'floating' dash, visible carbon fibre surfaces and a rather un-Lotus-like metal band engraved with the words 'For The Drivers'. A switch in the roof console - said to be reminiscent of the one found in the Lotus Esprit Turbo - closes the doors, cocooning occupants inside a fully-customisable cabin. Carbon fibre shell seats are hand-trimmed with Alcantara-finished pads, an LMP-inspired steering wheel can be adjusted for both rake and reach and four-point harnesses can be optioned in. This bespoke craftsmanship is Lotus finally showing what it can do when the financial shackles come off - but it's what lies beneath that ought to make a dent in the history books.
Speaking at the Evija's unveiling in London, Lotus CEO Phil Popham said: "The Lotus Evija is a car like no other. It will re-establish our brand in the hearts and minds of sports car fans and on the global automotive stage. It will also pave the way for further visionary models. This is another amazing moment in the history of our company. The Evija is a true Lotus in every sense - it has been developed with an unwavering passion to push boundaries, to explore new ways of thinking and to apply ground-breaking technologies."
Matt Windle, Executive Director of Sports Car Engineering, added: "Every element of the Evija has been meticulously analysed and validated. Precision engineering is nothing without human engagement, and that's why technology with soul is the benchmark for this and every Lotus. With the Lotus Evija we have an extremely efficient electric powertrain package, capable of delivering power to the road in a manner never seen before. Our battery, e-motors and transmission each operate at up to 98% efficiency. This sets new standards for engineering excellence."
And the price tag for a taste of these new standards? That'll be £1.7m plus duties and taxes. You'll have a while to come up with the cash, though, a £250,000 deposit being all that's required to secure a production slot. For a machine which marks not only a pivotal moment in Lotus's history, but also the wider automotive industry as well, we'd wager they won't have much trouble finding 130 willing customers.