It’s not every day you get to drive a high-end luxury vehicle new to the U.S. market.
Such was my luck recently, when I got to first ogle and learn about both the Lotus Emeya and Lotus Eletre, and then spend a little over an hour behind the wheel of the Eletre, which won’t go on sale in the U.S. until late next year.
Unfortunately, I was confined to pretty pedestrian surface streets and freeways around suburban Detroit. I’m sure the $115,000 (estimated) vehicle would have been much happier on some mountain switchbacks. I know I would have been.
But even on boring and slightly congested roads, the powerful SUV was fun to drive and garnered many curious looks.
If you aren’t familiar with the Lotus brand, you're not alone.
Lotus is in the early stages of transforming from a British sportscar manufacturer to a global luxury technology brand, says Mike Johnstone, Lotus group vice president and chief commercial officer.
“We have ambitious plans to sell 150,000 vehicles annually by 2028 -- and as such, we are looking to increase our global brand presence and appeal to different audiences,” Johnstone tells Marketing Daily.
The Eletre SUV is the brand’s first luxury lifestyle EV, he says.
“It appeals to a broad demographic, and we are seeing a lot of interest from a younger audience, who are typically about a decade younger than the typical Lotus customer,” Johnstone says. “We’re also seeing far more women interested.”
The Emeya, which won’t go on sale until 2025, is designed for driving enthusiasts.
“It offers sports car levels of performance and latest technologies -- bringing drivers an electric car that is exciting to drive and performs exceptionally,” he says.
Via its AOR, Los Angeles-based Kahn Media, the brand is leaning into the tech/lifestyle-focused key opinion leaders.
“We are very much a brand ‘for the drivers’ -- focused on merging the car folks with the tech and lifestyle world to emphasize the new value proposition that our products offer,” Johnstone says.
There is an untapped demographic of people Lotus wants to reach who haven’t necessarily been traditional Lotus customers.
“While the enthusiasts are a massive part of our brand’s foundation, those who can appreciate performance, sustainability, quality, and technology will see the value in our product line-up,” Johnstone says.
Lotus is one of the first established luxury OEMs to commit to going fully electric before anyone else -- by 2028, he says.
The brand is also committed to "combining a luxury proposition with cutting-edge technologies to provide consumers with the best of both worlds and connect the driver to both the car and the road,” Johnstone says.
Lotus is in a unique position in the market, he adds.
“We have a rich 75-year heritage. Consumers are familiar with Lotus and know who we are through our iconic cars such as the Esprit (in James Bond movies and 'Pretty Woman'), something that the new EV players do not have.”