Lotus earned a new lease on life when China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group agreed to purchase a 51-percent stake in the storied British brand last May. With steady financing, Lotus wants to take on the world’s best sports car brands, but it seems more clear than ever that Lotus may follow the paths of other sporty brands and build a performance crossover SUV.
(subscription required) spoke with Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales in an interview published on last Friday. Although Gales touched on a number of topics, he seemed most interested in the booming SUV segment. He said Lotus is, and will remain, a benchmark for lightweight materials, handling, and aerodynamics, but he’s “fairly sure with the Geely parts bin at our disposal” that a Lotus crossover will still embody the brand’s core competencies.
Gales added the sports car market is “stable,” while the crossover SUV market continues to grow at double digits. “Especially the premium SUV market,” he noted. He did not specifically confirm a Lotus SUV, however. His comments do add fuel to the rumor mill’s fire regarding a Lotus SUV, which may have been revealed in patent drawings this past October.
The patent images showed numerous Lotus design traits molded with a low-slung four-door crossover body. Gales previously said Lotus would “reinvent” the category, not just build another premium or performance-oriented crossover.
Even though such a crossover would likely perform quite well, Gales doesn’t believe it should feature bonded aluminum like all of his brands’ other sports cars. Bonded aluminum is a “great thing” for sports cars, he said, but other segments could use steel, aluminum, composites, or even carbon fiber.
Lotus will certainly get busy overhauling its sports cars with its fresh funding from Geely before a crossover debuts, which is likely four years away at its earliest. As for other nameplates, Gales did give the Esprit a mention.
“I am convinced the Esprit is an extremely good brand name,” he said, noting Lotus will share future product announcements in the next six months. The stillborn second-generation Esprit died in 2014 amid Lotus’ shaky financial situation.