Lo and behold the new Lotus Eletre Hyper SUV car. "The soul of a Lotus with the utility of an SUV." That's how its manufacturer describes the Hyper SUV that ventures way outside its feather-light sports cars legacy. TheLotus Eletre is large, heavy and electric. A triple blasphemy according to the Lotus fans. It shouldn't be allowed to exist, yet you may meet it in traffic soon. To understand its evolution, we can turn to sixties media theorist Marshall McLuhan.
Over fifty years ago, back in the analog era, McLuhan emerged as a public intellectual, researching the impact of electronic media. Long before the Internet was invented, he introduced concepts like “The Global Village” and “The Medium is the Message”. McLuhan also recognized how new media enhances, reverses, retrieves and obsoletes older media.
For instance, the car enhances transportation by allowing faster travel, but this can be reversed when it gets stuck in a traffic jam. The sportscar retrieves the spirit of knights or the wild west, reminiscent of brave men riding horses. Ultimately, the car obsoletes the horse and carriage.
So, what does this have to do with the new Lotus Eletre Hyper SUV? Let's take a trip back to the 1995 Frankfurt Motor Show, where the gasoline-powered Lotus Elite sportscar was introduced. With its lightweight aluminum chassis and polyester body, the car delivered outstanding performance, handling, and fuel efficiency. Back in the day, it played a significant role in rescuing the Lotus company, known for iconic models like the Lotus Esprit featured in the James Bond film "The Spy Who Loved Me," from bankruptcy. However, even new media eventually age.
In 2008, Elon Musk unveiled his first electric car, the groundbreaking Tesla Roadster, which was inspired onthe Lotus Elise chassis. The Tesla Roadster, an enhanced Lotus Elise packed with hundreds of laptop batteries, revolutionized electric cars, capable of traveling over 320 kilometers (200 miles) per charge. While earlier electric cars lacked speed and excitement, the Tesla Roadster retrieved the sportscar concept in an electric age, combining speed and sustainability. This innovation paved the way for subsequent Tesla models like the Model S, X, 3, and Y, forever transforming the automotive industry.
Today, every car company faces a critical choice: embrace electric vehicles or become obsolete. In line with this, the esteemed British Lotus brand found itself under the ownership of Chinese auto manufacturer Geely, which also holds Volvo and Polestar. The new Lotus Eletre Hyper SUV attempts to retrieve the illustrious Lotus sportscar brand from a gasoline-age into the era of electric mobility, while hoping to enhance the current Tesla Model X in terms of style, luxury and acceleration. The Lotus Eletre top model sports an electric engine equaling the power of 905 horses, pushing it from 0 to 100 km/h (60 mph) in less than three seconds. Will it be enough to survive in the corporate jungle?
If Marshall McLuhan were alive today, he might scrutinize it as a horse-drawn carriage manufacturer imitating an automobile to avoid obsolescence.