The testing and design teams for British sports car maker Lotus Cars have opened up this week about the company’s all electric Evija hypercar, as they head into the final straight before entering production in several months.
Lotus unveiled four new vehicle architectures, a technology roadmap, a fresh global identity, and the name of a new car at a special global virtual conference this week, called Driving Tomorrow.
Maybe the biggest headline was the announcement that the company’s all new sports car, known previously only by the codename ‘Type 131’, will be the Lotus Emira, which will be unveiled in early July at the Lotus Advanced Performance Centre before making its public debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed being held 8-11 July.
But in a separate announcement to media outlets, Lotus’ design and testing team, led by Lotus Cars’ Managing Director, Matt Windle, and the company’s legendary chief test driver Gavan Kershaw, who had a lot to say about the Lotus Evija all-electric hypercar.
“We have different prototypes focusing on different areas of development,” said Matt Windle. “One for build and tech, another for battery management, the other for motors and so on.”
The Evija reportedly entered its initial build phase all the way back in late-2019, before the global COVID-19 pandemic hit and stretched out most companies’ plans. Instead of beginning production in 2020 as had originally been planned, Windle explained that series production is expected sometime this year.
“EP1, which I have driven most recently, is the performance prototype and it does not disappoint,” said Windle. “We are still some months from entering series production, but already EP1 has that unmistakable Lotus ‘feel’. Unquestionably a unique and extreme hypercar, but still, somehow, a Lotus. I’m so excited and extremely proud of what the team has achieved.”
“We’re 80% there – in terms of power, in terms of batteries, motors, body,” said Gavan Kershaw, Director of Product Attributes and Lotus’ legendary chief test driver.
“Now, the remaining 20% is about adding the magic, for everything to work in harmony in that unique Lotus way, to deliver the driving experience that we want and that we can be super-proud of. And by proud, I of course mean, mind-blowing. It is a hypercar.”
Several media outlets were able to secure a test drive at Lotus’ Hethel headquarters in England and reported that the prototype they drove only boasted combined output of 1,600-horsepower across the vehicle’s four electric motors, one at each wheel.
This is well down on the promised 2,000-horsepower, but is somewhat unsurprising given Windle’s comments regarding various prototypes and the several months remaining before series production.
Similarly, though “unsportingly” as Car and Driver’s Mike Duff lamented, the development car available for test drive was fitted with a 140/mph speed limiter, or only a measly 225km/h. The promised production version of the Evija is expected to max out at a top speed of 200/mph, or 320km/h.
Maybe most impressively, however, the promised production Evija will be able to accelerate from 0-100km/h in under three seconds, and from 0-300km/h in under nine seconds – several seconds faster than the Bugatti Chiron Sport, for example, which according to Car and Driver needed 12.4 seconds to hit 180/mph (289km/h).
“As we enter the final straight of the development programme and start to unleash full power and torque, we are fast-completing the base vehicle dynamics and turning on the active systems one by one – torque vectoring, active aero, traction control and so on – to confirm everything behaves and works together as expected,” said James Hazlehurst, Lead Vehicle Dynamics Engineer.
“Then we start to tune the drive modes, delivering the distinctive characteristics for each of the settings. We’ve been doing some of this virtually, working with a simulator partner, and now, as the world is beginning to slowly open up, we’re able to put these learnings into practice in the physical world.”
“We have pushed the boundaries of technology and materials at every opportunity,” said Louis Kerr, Chief Platform Engineer. “(We’ve) used the best technical partners, applied the latest technology – some of which is only currently available on a Formula One car – and on top of all that we have the most power-dense powertrain in a car.
“Already it is the fastest road car around the Hethel track, and some legendary cars and drivers have been setting records around here for many years. We’re already going quicker than expected, and in addition we’re looking to exceed the targets we’ve set ourselves on the project in terms of power and torque capacities to absolutely maximise the performance envelope of the car.”
Kershaw was pleased. “It’s like a little Group C racer but with the torque and instant delivery of all the power, all the torque and the very latest toolbox of electronic aids. You genuinely start to believe you can defy physics – it fires you around corners like a catapult.”