Lotus might be ready to head off in a completely new direction.
The British automaker is considering building sports cars that can drive itself, according to Top Gear. A brand that touts itself as being “For the Drivers” is designing vehicles that might not even need them.
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Lotus’s chief commercial officer, Mike Johnstone, recently talked with the BBC show’s website to discuss where the company is headed. Naturally, the technological capabilities of the brand’s upcoming lineup of EVs, including the Eletre, came up during the conversation. The battery-powered crossover is equipped with a Lidar system and other hardware necessary to deliver full self-driving Level 4 autonomy under specific circumstances. The vehicle can’t technically drive itself—Europe, like the U.S., has only just okayed “conditional” Level 3 autonomy for use—but the executive hinted that the day when a Lotus can, isn’t that far off on the horizon.
“It’s just having the right infrastructure and regulatory frameworks to allow us to do it,” he said.
Every automaker building EVs—almost all of them except for Pagani—is putting some sort of autonomous tech in their vehicles. Still, it’s a little strange to watch Lotus, a brand that has spent decades talking up the importance of the driving experience, outfit its sports cars with technology that has the potential to do away with the experience entirely. That’s not actually the case, according to Johnstone. Instead, he says it’s about giving drivers the choice and also exploring if the technology can improve the driving experience.
“What I’m intrigued by is how can we apply autonomous driving to a sports car to help enhance the driving experience on a track,” the executive said. “At one point the idea of ABS or traction control was scoffed at for sports cars, but actually it has enhanced the experience. I’d like to think that when it comes to sports cars there may be a way that we can utilize autonomous driving technology to make the experience safer, but also more exhilarating on the race track.”
Lotus may not have self-driving sports car on the way just, but it certainly sounds as if it’s just a matter of time. Consider it another to enjoy the company’s final gas-powered model, the Emira. Now the company just needs to get approval to start selling the car stateside.
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