Group Lotus has announced Lotus Technology, a new subsidiary headquartered in Wuhan, China. It was launched as part of a ‘breaking-ground’ ceremony held in the Chinese city.

The OEM has described Lotus Technology as a subsidiary focused on enhancing Lotus’ existing in-vehicle technologies as well as the development of new technologies. This development will encompass a number of areas adjacent to the design and production of EVs – including vehicle batteries, energy management, electric motors and intelligent driving. While the subsidiary’s Wuhan headquarters are currently under construction, due for completion in 2024, a new manufacturing plant will facilitate its goals.

The plant, also based in Wuhan, is set to open later this year. Occupying a space of more than one million square meters, Lotus’ new factory represents an investment of more than 8 billion renminbi (£900 million/$1.2 billion). This investment will allow the factory to have the capacity to produce 150,000 EVs annually. While it has been designed to complement existing Lotus facilities in the UK, its main purpose will be the production of new Lotus EVs for the global market.

During the ceremony, Group Lotus announced its plans to launch four EVs over the next five years. These new vehicles, the OEM’s first EVs, will be jointly developed by Lotus Technology in Wuhan and Lotus’ team in UK. The first in this series will be an E-segment SUV codenamed Type 132 which will launch in 2022. This will be followed by an E-segment four four-door coupe, the Type 133, in 2023. Then, in 2025, Lotus will launch a second SUV, in the D-segment, called the Type 134. Finally, 2026 will see the firm launch an all-electric sports car currently known as the Type 135.

While more specific details about these EVs have yet to be shared by Lotus, it did confirm that they would all be developed on its new Premium architecture vehicle platform. The platform encompasses a wide range of support within the development of passenger vehicles from the C+ to E segments as well as batteries ranging from 92kWh to 120kWh. The adoption of these batteries will enable Lotus’ new EVs to access 800V ultra-rapid EV chargers, among the fastest on the market. While the Premium architecture platform provides a wide range of flexibility within vehicle development, Lotus confirmed that all EVs on it would be capable of accelerating from 0-100km/h (62mph) in less than three seconds.

While its most dominant purpose is the production of new EVs, the new plant will also serve a range of secondary functions. One of these is an integrated intelligent test track. It takes advantage of an advanced system that utilizes autonomous driving technologies to transport vehicles to and from workshops without the need for human intervention – thereby streamlining the testing process. The track itself is suitable for testing a range of vehicle types, designed to accommodate vehicles driving at speeds up to 140mph (230km/h) through 16 corners. Further responsibilities of the new Lotus plant include the production of new lifestyle products and premium intelligent driving technologies.

In addition to these announcements, Lotus revealed a new partnership with NIO – a Chinese OEM known for its battery swapping stations. It confirmed that Li Bin, NIO’s founder and CEO, had invested an undisclosed sum into Lotus Technology and also hinted at a collaboration between the two firms in the future through their shared interest in electric mobility.

Together, these next steps from Lotus demonstrate a strong commitment to electrification. They also strengthen the OEM’s commitment to its Vision80 strategy to expand its business operations around the world and deliver a diverse range of new vehicles across multiple segments by 2028.