Why the 1,972-HP Lotus Evija EV Hypercar Looks the Way It Does
The lead designer provided us insight into its form and function.
We encountered both the Lotus Type 30 Evija electric hypercar and Russell Carr, Lotus Group's chief designer, for the first time on the Concept Car lawn at Pebble Beach in August. But neither car nor man was unknown. European automotive press had talked about the over-the-top, 1,972-hp Lotus shown in London a month before, and a trusted friend who's known Carr for years told us he was "a really good guy, with a great sense of humor and subtle, sharp wit."
It's hard to think of the car as anything but a silly absurdity—what use is that much power in the real world?—but it was displayed in company with many other overblown concepts, looking surprisingly realistic and practical in a subdued gray metallic finish. And it's hard to think of Carr as anything but a competent designer when he explains features of the very convincing hypercar, why they're present, and how his design team reached its conclusions and solutions.
The principal advantages of Evija (the name is said to mean "first of its kind") seem to be its low weight for an electric performance car, a bit less than 3,700 pounds, and its four 493-hp motors. We thought it a rather generic supercar shape, with a clean centerline profile, a pair of Miura-style pivoting doors, a McLaren-style pop-up rear wing, and no particular visual references to earlier Lotus road cars. Carr politely rejected all of that, maintaining that the shapes and multiple inlets are rational and functional. He stressed that the structure, all carbon fiber, allows a low base weight that the increases less from the addition of batteries than in some rivals. He noted that huge air inlets on both the car's front and side are there because the motors, controllers, and batteries require massive cooling. It certainly helps that the entire lower portion of the front end is an inlet area, but it was still deemed necessary to add inlets on top of the hood.
The cockpit is where we could see that this is a serious proposal for (limited) series production; the interior is accommodating and comfortable, unlike most other extreme cars. One of the key elements of Horacio Pagani's success with his seven-figure cars is that mature buyers manage to enter them with some ease and dignity. Lotus is on the way to providing a car comfortable enough to be driven a significant number of miles.
Our main criticism of the Evija's exterior styling is the thinned-out top edge of the side scoop in the center of the doors. Carr acknowledged that his team "spent more time on that single detail than any other aspect of the exterior." Without resolving it, we think. But the car still presents well, even if its understated front end is overwhelmed by the garish rear lighting surrounding huge passages between rear wheelhouses and the tapered cabin. We'll give the Evija this: It's spectacular.