Secret Omega project under way to create Bugatti-baiting EV; concept due in 2019
Mark Tisshaw
6 December 2018

Lotus is set to stun the world with a new £2 million-plus electric hypercar that acts as a statement of intent under new owner Geely

The new model will be built in strictly limited numbers, and will be the fastest, most expensive and most radical model made by Lotus in its 70-year history. 

The project is shrouded in secrecy at Lotus’s Hethel headquarters in Norfolk, but Autocar understands it has been given the codename Omega and development work is well under way, with a reveal of a concept version set for next year. 

Further details are scarce at this stage, but Autocar can confirm the new model will use a bespoke all-electric drivetrain when it launches early in the next decade. 

The £2m-plus price tag will propel Lotus into a rarefied league it has never gone near before; the firm has only recently started selling some variants of its models for more than £100,000, including the Exige and 3-Eleven

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But while every Lotus since the Esprit has been a sports car rather than a supercar, the Omega project will see Lotus jump straight into the world of hypercar making. The model will be priced far in excess of the likes of previous electrified hypercars including the McLaren P1, LaFerrari and Porsche 918 Spyder, and close to the £2.5m Bugatti Chiron

The electric Lotuses that aren't Lotuses

Lotus senses an opportunity with electric technology to reposition itself as the most cutting-edge of performance car makers. Its new majority shareholder, Geely, is keen to leverage Lotus as the halo brand for both technology and performance in its group, which also includes Volvo, Polestar, Lynk&Co, taxi maker LEVC, Proton and flying car maker Terrafugia. 

Lotus has made its name creating lightweight models, so the adoption of electric power will pose a challenge to the Hethel engineers given the added weight of the batteries powering the electric motors. 

To back up its price tag, Lotus will need some hefty headline numbers from its new hypercar – 1000bhpplus is touted as one target – alongside some innovative, ground-breaking technology, through not only electric motors but possibly also next-generation battery technology to improve power density and reduce the amount of cells needed. This would help keep the car’s kerb weight within the realms of the “simplify, then add lightness” philosophy embedded by Lotus founder Colin Chapman. 

All-wheel drive through multiple electric motors will surely be a necessity to help get the Omega’s considerable power and torque reserves to the road in an effective manner. As with most EVs coming now, a range of more than 250 miles will be needed, as will fast charging and a powerful energy recovery system to ensure any circuit running does not instantly deplete its batteries. 

The only other such electric hypercar model to make production has been the Chinese-developed Nio EP9. The 1360bhp all-wheel-drive hypercar with a 265-mile range lapped the Nürburgring in 6min 45.9sec.

 

With its current model range of Elise, Exige and Evora all rooted in ageing architectures, Lotus will use the electric hypercar to reposition itself as the most modern of performance car makers. 

Lotus, perennially lossmaking and underfunded by a succession of owners over several decades, now has the world at its feet with Geely, which is planning to make the brand a force to be reckoned with on the world stage. 

The new hypercar is not the only car in the works at Hethel, where Geely’s majority stake is at 51%. The remainder is owned by Malaysian conglomerate Etika Automotive, which is fronted by billionaire Syed Mokhtar, who also owns Lotus’s former owner DRB-Hicom. 

Lotus will continue to be based at Hethel, where its sports cars will be produced alongside the engineering of all its models. But Lotus will also make use of a new Geely design centre in Coventry, and is recruiting designers and engineers across the organisation. What is currently unknown, however, is where the future SUV (also a major part of Lotus’s plans) will be built. With limited capacity at Hethel, it is likely that Lotus will make use of Geely’s numerous factories in places such as Sweden and the US. 

Geely’s presence is already starting to be felt around Lotus. While it develops the next generation of Lotus models, it is making a big play around the heritage of the brand to help with its global positioning ready for the launch of the new cars. To that end, it recently submitted planning permission for a new customer experience centre, heritage centre and museum to breathe new life into its Hethel site, where further redevelopments and upgrades are ongoing. 

Geely has also installed new management at the firm, replacing Jean-Marc Gales, who helped stabilise Lotus and return it to profit. Feng Qingfeng, who is also in charge of Geely group engineering, is now CEO of Group Lotus, while former Jaguar Land Rover senior executive Phil Popham is CEO of Lotus Cars

In response to Autocar’s story, Lotus said it didn’t comment on future product speculation. However, it added: “Lotus’s development team is exploring numerous engineering projects, across multiple vehicle sectors, using several propulsion systems. As part of the development process, these projects undergo continual and stringent valuation and only the best will reach production.”

Read more

Geely plans £1.5 billion investment in Lotus​

Lotus reveals plans for overhauled Hethel HQ​

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Comments
15

6 December 2018
A very fast, very expensive electric Lotus?

I love Lotus like no other car company, but I would decline the keys without hesitation if offered a drive in this.

6 December 2018
eseaton wrote:

A very fast, very expensive electric Lotus?

I love Lotus like no other car company, but I would decline the keys without hesitation if offered a drive in this.

It wouldn't hurt you to have a drive.

6 December 2018

I never pass up an opportunity to drive anything. The reward was the fastest acceleration I've ever experienced in a friend's Tesla P100D. I think my Elise would forgive me if I smelled of electrons :) 

Somewhere, Dany Bahar is thinking "Hey, wait a minute!"

6 December 2018

 while it’s great to see a legend from GP Days now not cash strapped, I’d have like to have seen them at the forefront of everyday transport for the masses....

Peter Cavellini.

289

6 December 2018

..... this is some kind of joke - right?

7 December 2018
Peter Cavellini wrote:

 while it’s great to see a legend from GP Days now not cash strapped, I’d have like to have seen them at the forefront of everyday transport for the masses....

 

Good grief, did you have a party with all your friend when MG was snapped up by the chinese and they started to churn out cars that were dull enough to make even a Dacia sandero look enticing?

Quick! Try and play it off as a cunning reference to the Lotus Cortina or Lotus Carlton or something!!  ; )

6 December 2018

Will it just be based on the 22 year old Elise ? Their newest model is coming up to it’s 9th Birthday 

6 December 2018
Bolida wrote:

Will it just be based on the 22 year old Elise ? Their newest model is coming up to it’s 9th Birthday 

If it's good it doesn't matter how old it is.

Is it fast, fun, light, functional, cost-effective, safe, attractive, and does it comply with legislation?

If the answers are all yes then it's new enough.

If some of the answers are no, but can be rectified by modifications, then modify.

6 December 2018

Electrification makes sense that is. Lotus is an unusal Sports car company in that they are not known for their drivetrains. I'm thinking in comparision to german flat sixes, italian v12s and to an extent American V8s. Acceptance of an electric drivetrain might be less of a stretch for their customers than perhaps it would be for their competitors. A multi million dollar car is questionable I suppose but perhaps in Aisa where their past reputation does not precede them then they could get away with it. Potentially a very smart move. Halo cars can sell a brand like no other media can. People still talk about the Mclaren f1 20 years on and that was a 2million dollar car (inflation adjusted) also. I'm not saying Lotus will manage to build a reputation defining Mclaren F1 but good luck to them if they get close.

6 December 2018
Oktoberfest wrote:

Electrification makes sense that is. Lotus is an unusal Sports car company in that they are not known for their drivetrains. I'm thinking in comparision to german flat sixes, italian v12s and to an extent American V8s. Acceptance of an electric drivetrain might be less of a stretch for their customers than perhaps it would be for their competitors. A multi million dollar car is questionable I suppose but perhaps in Aisa where their past reputation does not precede them then they could get away with it. Potentially a very smart move. Halo cars can sell a brand like no other media can. People still talk about the Mclaren f1 20 years on and that was a 2million dollar car (inflation adjusted) also. I'm not saying Lotus will manage to build a reputation defining Mclaren F1 but good luck to them if they get close.

Although Colin Chapman's maxim about adding lightness would have to be ditched; battery-electric powertrains always add heaviness.

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