Forget the actual car under wraps on Lotus’s Shanghai motor show stand. (It was an Evora GT4 Racing concept stripped out and homologated for customer racing in 2020, in case you cared.) The much bigger news emanating from China and which created so much tangible hubbub, was confirmation of a forthcoming all-electric hypercar from the legendary British sports car brand now owned by the Geely Group – its first all-new production car since 2008.
Called Type 130, Lotus publicly showed a first side profile render of the vehicle, revealing an elegant, low-slung, cab-forward silhouette with a long-ish tail optimised for aero and aesthetics, with the Pininfarina Battista and other ultra-high-end electric hypercars in its sights. It’s a similarly-priced proposition too, set to cost somewhere between £1.5-£2m, which is quite a departure for the brand more known for the Evora and the Elise, small and relatively affordable sports cars both.
Car Design News had an exclusive chat with Lotus’s design director Russell Carr about the project and although not too much can be revealed about the final vehicle until its expected summer 2019 full unveil, Carr did give some hints as to the Type 130’s development and form: “What I think is fresh on this car is the airflow management,” Carr told CDN.
“We need downforce as this is an extremely high-performance car. The easy way to do that is to make a slab-sided car like the 962 or those racing cars from the ‘80s, but we spotted a trend in a lot of LMP cars where the airflow is managed not only over the car’s surfaces but also through the car too. That gave us a really interesting sculptural opportunity. This is an elegant and fluid car with some cues from the past but also a lot of modern detailing, too.”
With the Type 130 name Lotus is positioning the vehicle as the latest in a long line of ground-breaking sports and motorsports cars from the Norfolk-based manufacturer that have all started with the famous ‘Type’ prefix. These include the Type 14, the world’s first composite monocoque production road car (the 1957 Elite), the Type 72, the most successful F1 car of all time, and the Type 111, otherwise known as the 1995 Elise and the world’s first aluminium and bonded extrusion construction production car.
The hypercar effectively acts as the halo model to re-launch the historically much-loved but currently under-performing sports car brand. “The Type 130 is important to illustrate capability, intent and design direction,” Lotus CEO Phil Popham explained. “It’s not a false dawn, there’s substance to the idea. Not only in terms of our ability to engineer a product but to actually engineer a product with new technology. It really showcases what Lotus could be, will be, and how much support we have from Geely.”
The Type 130 – due on sale sometime in 2020 – will also spawn more new Lotus models, and soon. “The Type 130 is not going to be a volume car, clearly; that’s just the start,” Popham continued. “You’ll see another sports car next year which will be more volume-oriented. Our focus is actually on sports cars in the short-term, but we will move into other segments as time moves on.”
The official reveal of the final car with specification and full details is set to be in mid-2019 in London, an appropriate locale as that was the city where the brand was born back in 1948.