Now Lotus wants to get into the performance SUV market as well. Lotus Cars CEO Jean-Marc Gales confirmed the upcoming development of a lightweight SUV of roughly Porsche Macan dimensions that is due to be unveiled internationally at the end of this decade. You read that correctly – that’s in five years time!
Lotus believes that the growing luxury SUV segment will help weather the ups and downs of the economy more effectively than at any time in Lotus’ past.
A Lotus spokesman said, “Sports cars are cyclical in their appeal and sales – they go up and they go down with market sentiment. When the economy isn’t doing so well, sales suffer. SUVs, we have found, are almost exactly the opposite.”
Now here’s the interesting part – the move into a fresh market segment by the British-based manufacturer is possible due to the agreement reached in mid-April between Lotus, its long-time owner Proton, and Chinese industrial giant Goldstar, which specializes in buses. The joint-venture will see Lotus establishing a research and development as well as a manufacturing facility in China. The Lotus Group and Proton are subsidiaries of DRB-HICOM of Malaysia.
Lotus’ decade-long reliance on Toyota-sourced engines and transmissions is likely to continue, with petrol-electric hybrid drivetrains expected to make it into the as-yet unnamed crossover. The hybrid powertrain may end up on a four-wheel drive version.
Lotus is one of a number of premium brands adding SUVs to its roster following Porsche’s hugely successful introduction of the Cayenne high-riding wagon in 2003. Recently, Jaguar, Maserati, Bentley, Rolls-Royce and Lamborghini have all confirmed future SUVs for their respective line-ups.
Lotus claim that sales climbed 55 percent for the 2014 fiscal year, reaching 2015 units globally. CEO Jean-Marc Gales has stated that he wants to more than double that figure in a sustainable way by 2020, and hopes that the coming SUV will eventually take the brand beyond the 10,000 unit mark.
And the best of British luck, Mr. Gales!