How Lotus plans to 'myth-bust' electric cars

Lotus enters into the electric car space with Lotus Evija

Lotus Cars has entered into the electric car space with the Lotus Evija – the first fully electric hypercar from the British car manufacturer. Only 130 will be made and it will cost £2.4m when deliveries begin in 2020. At such a high cost, how is Lotus convincing people to trust in electric, and part with £250,000 for the deposit?

As of December 2018, there were 5.3 million all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles on roads around the world. Although the electric car market has gone from strength to strength, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, the UK lags behind the rest of Europe in the adoption of EV.

Last year, just 15,510 fully EV cars were sold – a rate of 13.8% growth on 2017, compared to 48.2% growth across the European continent.

A report from Foxtrot Papa on electric vehicles puts it down to gaps in knowledge that are hampering people from making the leap – raising questions on how to market electric cars to consumers, who might be hesitant to switch from petrol.

The 'Electric is Now' report suggested there is a perceived lack of infrastructure, a shortage of charging points and doubt over whether one charge has sufficient range. The high cost is also a barrier for EV manufacturers to overcome.

“A lot of it comes down to communication. Brands have been talking around it from an environmental point of view,” explained Simon Clare, executive director, global marketing at Lotus. “That’s not the key thing that will kick start the growth.”

While 37% of EV consumers said they made the switch because its cleaner for the environment and 36% say it was to reduce carbon emissions, Clare wants to push the performance of the car as its main selling point.

He said that carmakers need to dispel myths about range anxiety, as advancements in technology have helped stretch out the number of miles an EV can travel and the infrastructure is better than people perceive. “Things are changing, we need to change people’s perceptions of it,” he added.

“We’re beginning to think about how we’re going to market future cars".

While the Evija is Lotus’ first EV, he confirmed that the carmaker won’t go headfirst overnight and will continue to produce petrol engines.

Established over 70 years ago, Lotus manufactures sports and racing cars in Hethel in the United Kingdom. The past few years have been tumultuous for the brand with shifts in leadership and financial backing.

In 2017, the Chinese auto group Geely bought a controlling stake in the company. Geely is also the owner of Volvo and the London Taxi Company.

“Lotus has been off the radar over recent years,” Clare admitted. “It was under-invested in and difficult ownership transitions. This new money is allowing Lotus to invest in new cars and new technology.”

Due to its small size, despite its age, Clare refers to Lotus as a 70-year old start-up. He explained that Lotus “can be nimble in terms of a start-up, yet it has all this heritage."

And, while for years the carmaker has been producing expensive sports cars he said the car brand is modifying its output, to cater to changing consumer tastes.

“Owners tend to be mid-50s, and have a Lotus as a second or third car,” he added. “But that’s changing as we’re growing our volumes. We’re looking at bringing out cars that are for everyday usage. Car ownership is going to change.”

He puts this down to a lack of car passion, with more people passing their tests in their mid-20s, rather than at 17.

“Kids are embracing technology and connectivity and it's bringing out this new consumer,” he said of consumers being attracted towards the technology of cars over the drivability.

And this comes down to how consumers perceive EVs to be a feat of technology rather than engineering, with many believing Apple is better positioned to deliver electric cars than high-end car manufacturers like Audi or even luxury brands like Porsche.

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