Lotus Cars established its retail reputation building lightweight, high-performance sports cars equally at home on both track and street. The company itself leans on a lexicon of auto racing greats from the 1960s (Colin Chapman, Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Jochen Rindt), as well as a string of street cars in the ensuing decades that bring smiles to enthusiasts everywhere (Esprit, Elan, Elise, Exige, Evora, — see a pattern?).
Although it’s been a few years since any new ‘E’ wizardry has emerged from this legendary British car company, at this year’s Motorsports Gathering at the Quail in Carmel, California, Lotus took the wraps off an all-new flagship sports car — the Evija, pronounced ih-VIE-uh. Not only is Evija the first hypercar from Lotus, it’s also the brand’s first fully-electric vehicle.
As the start of a new chapter for Lotus, the car’s name seems fitting — Evija means “the first in existence.” Lotus Cars CEO Phil Popham exclaimed that “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.” Popham also noted that “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.”
One look at this new Evija and it’s clear the car is something special. The first Lotus built on a full carbon fiber chassis, the Evija sits low and wide with a sleek silhouette that introduces a new design language for the marque. Deeply sculpted from all angles, the Evija seems to have air ducts flowing through all parts of the body. The rear view is unique with large Venturi tunnel outlets surrounded by LED ribbon-style brake lights.
Evija designers put considerable effort into achieving outstanding aerodynamics for this new exotic sports car. The full length of the underside is sculpted to increase downforce and includes an integrated air diffuser that runs from under the B-pillars to the rear of the car. Deployable cameras replace exterior rearview mirrors for additional drag savings. A rear spoiler remains flush with the bodywork when not in use, but raises up automatically as needed or when the vehicle is in Track mode.
Aside from the standout design, the Evija sets itself apart from other hypercars with a fully-electric powertrain. Four Electrical Drive Units consist of an ultralight, single-speed, helical gear ground planetary gearbox tied to a high-power electric motor. Mounted at each wheel, these units have a power target of around 500 horses each — giving the Evija an estimated 2000 horsepower and 1,254 lb-ft of torque. Groundbreaking indeed.
With each motor able to be operated independently, the Evija has full-time all-wheel drive as well as torque vectoring, which should provide exceptional handling and agility. According to Lotus, the system adjusts power distribution to any combination of wheels in a fraction of a second. Matt Windle, Executive Director of Sports Car Engineering at Lotus Cars, explained: “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,” Windle noted.
The Evija’s acceleration will also be quite dramatic — the jump to 62 mph should take less than 3 seconds with a top speed in excess of 200 mph. Perhaps even more impressive, Lotus predicts the Evija will accelerate from 62 mph to 124 mph in less than 3 seconds, and 124 to 186 in another 4 seconds. “The Lotus Evija has astonishing acceleration at higher speeds. It takes less than nine seconds to reach 300 km/h which is better than any other direct competitor,” added Windle.
The Evija’s electric powertrain gets its juice from a 2000-kW lithium-ion battery pack mounted behind the passenger compartment and visible through the rear glass screen. This is a lot of battery to charge, but Lotus has partnered with Williams Advance Engineering to create an advanced battery pack capable of accepting an 800kW charge. Although commercial units capable of delivering this type of charge do not exist today, when they do it will be possible to fully charge the battery in a mere nine minutes. With a 350kW charging unit — the most powerful available today — the Evija would be ready to go in around 20 minutes. Evija’s expected range should be in excess of 250 miles.
A look inside the Evija reveals an interior clearly bred from racing and certainly worthy of this hypercar’s exterior. The dashboard seems to float below the windshield, and the steering wheel looks similar to one found in an LMP or F1 race car. A high-resolution digital display sits behind the steering wheel — the only screen in the cabin, it provides all necessary information in one place.
Access to the cabin occurs via motorized dihedral panels — a car such as this possesses wings rather than mere doors. In an effort to avoid tarnishing Evija’s sculpted exterior, there are no handles — admittance to the vehicle requires a key fob. Once inside, occupants flick a switch on the roof that closes the door panels. Carbon fiber shells enclose the individual seats, trimmed with thick Alcantara-finished pads. Three-point safety belts are much-needed standard equipment, with the option of a 4-point harness when things get serious. Two small storage areas are integrated within the bodyshell.
Exclusive by definition, a hypercar from Lotus is no exception. The company plans to produce a mere 130 copies of the Evija — a tribute to the car’s code name: Lotus Type 130. Production is expected to begin in 2020 with a price of £1.7 million (approx. USD$2 million). A deposit of £250,000 will secure a place in line.