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Report: Lotus Considering Lightweight SUV

Does Lotus need to sell its soul to survive?

These are strange times, indeed. Aston Martin showed a funky crossover thing at Geneva, Bentley is poised to introduce the Bentayga luxo-SUV, and Jaguar is readying the F-PACE crossover. Now, the unthinkable may become reality: a Lotus SUV.

At the Geneva auto show, CEO Jean-Marc Gales told Reuters that Lotus could decide this year to green-light an SUV. “We’d do an SUV that is very light, very fast on the track, and has outstanding handling,” Gales said. “I’m a bit torn between an SUV and a four-door sports car, but in the end I can see that the SUV has the bigger market.”

Gales also promised that the forthcoming Lotus SUV would not be an also-ran in the category, but that it would instead “reinvent” it.

We previously reported that Lotus was planning to cut weight from the Exige, Elise, and Evora, and possibly apply its “simplify, then add lightness” philosophy to segments other than sports cars. Gales said the updated Evora, which debuted in Geneva and will return to the US for 2016, has dropped 22 pounds while adding a bigger supercharger for more power. Similar improvements are on the menu for the Elise and Exige.

Gales’ efforts to expand Lotus’ dealer network have resulted in a projected sales increase of 62 percent to 2,000 vehicles for the year ending March 31. Lotus lost $108 million last fiscal year, but aims to return to profitability by 2016-2017.

The new SUV aims to be a major piece of that puzzle, and it would continue to use Lotus’ existing aluminum chassis. Lotus has long been predicated on pure sports-car dynamics, but we’ll have to wait and see if the British automaker can translate those characteristics into an SUV. Clearly Lotus has to change to sell more vehicles and justify its continued existence. The question is: Can we live with the Lotus we might get on the other side?