Lotus founder Colin Chapman famously said his design goal was “simplify, then add lightness”. Electric vehicles are typically neither simple nor light, but the British brand is determined to make battery-powered sports cars.
Now the brand has revealed how, unveiling ‘Project LEVA’, which stands for Lightweight Electric Vehicle Architecture. This new project will allow for a variety of layouts that will mean Lotus can build both sports cars and its planned SUVs on the same basic underpinnings.
Project LEVA will be capable of three different layouts that all share the same rear sub-frame, which will allow them to also share electric motors. Lotus claims this structure is 37 per cent lighter than the sub-frame in the Emira V6.
The three layouts are split by vehicle type and wheelbase:
- A two-seater sports car with a minimum wheelbase of 2470mm.
- A two-seater sports car with a wheelbase of more than 2650mm
- A 2+2 layout with a wheelbase of more than 2650mm
The sports cars will use what Lotus is calling a ‘chest’ battery layout, with the batteries mounted behind the cabin, effectively where an internal combustion engine would be in a conventional model. The benefit of this layout, according to the brand, is it allows the overall ride height and centre-of-gravity to be as low as possible.
The second battery layout is called ‘slab’ and is a more conventional EV layout, with the batteries mounted underneath the floor to get weight low and create more cabin length.
The electric motors can be mounted behind the batteries, with the shorter sports car set to use a single motor with a maximum output of 350kW, while the larger sports car will be able to fit a pair of motors for 650kW of performance.
The 2+2 layout will be capable of fitting either a single or dual-motor package to offer a variety of performances.
The first Lotus EV will be a new E-segment SUV codenamed Type 132, to compete against the likes of the BMW iX, Jaguar I-Pace and Tesla Model X. In 2023 a ‘four-door coupe’ – Type 133 – will arrive to give the brand a rival to the BMW 8-Series Gran Coupe, Audi e-tron GT and Porsche Taycan.
A second smaller SUV will arrive in 2025, before the sports car, ‘Type 135’, debuts in ‘26. This will be an electric alternative to the just-revealed Emira and will be co-developed with French brand, Alpine.