LONDON -- Lotus is working on a new, entry-level model that will provide enough interior space for every-day use.
The as-yet unnamed car, destined to be the company's last combustion-engine model, will be priced between 55,000 pounds ($67,000) and 100,000 pounds, CEO Phil Popham said in an interview.
A factory extension is being built to house the new model at Lotus's plant in Hethel, England, which will be unveiled late this year or early in 2021.
Production at Hethel will restart next month as soon as the UK lifts its coronavirus lockdown, Popham said.
The model will take design cues from the full-electric Evija hypercar that the automaker bills as the world's most powerful car.
The pairing of the $2 million Evija with the more modestly priced basic car defines Lotus's strategy under Chinese owner Geely Group.
Like other performance automakers, it's seeking to ramp up volumes by providing more accessible choices that will appeal to regular drivers, while offering wealthy buyers a chance to spend big on highly profitable limited-edition cars.
But unlike rivals such as Aston Martin and Lamborghini that have opted for SUVs, Lotus will first produce an accessible sports car -- though one with enough interior space to be compatible with every-day use. That is a departure from models like the wedge-shaped Esprit, that have typically been used only at weekends or on the track.
Lotus plans to lift volumes from around 1,600 cars a year toward the 5,000-unit limit of its facilities, said Popham, who added the plans will not be held back by any hit to sales from the coronavirus.
"It's not as if we have to generate all the money ourselves to invest in our future," the CEO said. Future options for the automaker could also include an SUV or sporting sedan, Popham said.
"Our focus now is on sports cars, but we do think the brand has the potential to move into other segments. And Geely has expertise in areas such as electrification and autonomous driving."
The Evija will meanwhile enter assembly before the year's end, Popham said. Only 130 of the hypercars are due to be built, and deposits have been taken on all production due in the second half, the executive said. Sales have slowed following the lockdown, with U.S. and European promotional tours curtailed.