Elise, Evora, Emira — Why Do So Many Lotus Cars Start With “E”

Lotus is far from the most popular sports car brand in America, and you’ve probably notice that they are also far from common. In fact, there are only a handful of newer Lotus cars available in the United States, but if you’ve paid any attention, chances are you’ve noticed that it isn’t a coincidence that most of the Lotus road models start with the letter “E”. Elise, Evora, Esprit, Exige, and so many others, with the newest model release leaving us far from disappointed. But, why is it that so many Lotus cars start with the letter “E”?

Not all Lotus cars start with an “E”

A badge of a Lotus car
A badge of a Lotus car | Martyn Goddard/Corbis via Getty Images

It’s worth noting that if you take a deep dive into Lotus history, chances are you’ll discover that not every car ever developed by Lotus has the iconic “E” name — meaning the model name doesn’t always start with an E. But, a majority of the street-focused cars, especially in the past decades, do, and if you’ve ever wondered why, chances are you’ve come to the conclusion that it isn’t a coincidence. There are only a few cars ever in Lotus history that have model names starting with different letters, such as the:

  • Lotus Seven
  • Lotus Cortina

So, where did the “E” come from and why did it stick?

The front 3/4 view of a blue 2023 Lotus Emira
2023 Lotus Emira front 3/4 | Lotus

According to Lotus, the naming scheme has a bit of a back story, rather than just subjective naming, and it starts with the company’s founder, Colin Chapman. Like many automotive enthusiasts, Colin Chapman took his interest in modifying vehicle’s from motorsports, and even began to create his own vehicles, starting with the Lotus Mark I followed, of course, by the Lotus Mark II. After several renditions of the car, Mr. Chapman made the decision to cease the roman numeral use, reportedly to avoid confusion, and switched over to the very simple: Lotus Eleven. This was the first Lotus car with the traditional “E” model name. Not to disappointed you, but it is reported that this naming structure begun unintentionally with the naming of the next several models, and became a tradition that wasn’t worth breaking with time.

The newest generation of Lotus cars

The newest generation of Lotus cars have begun to take the stage after Lotus officially announced the end of production for all of their active and long-established models, the Elise, Evora, and Exige. In it’s place, we are expecting more electrified models, but they didn’t ignore the demands of Lotus fans. Lotus has released what they announced to be their final completely internal combustion engine powered sports car, and, as you could imagine, it follows suit with having a model name starting with the letter “E”. It’s the Lotus Emira.

Lotus has yet to announce the model names for the two other new models, which will mark a new era for the manufacturer as it enters the world of electric drivetrains. Will this mean that the model names too will mark the beginning of a new era, not starting with “E” or will the brand hold true to this tradition? Only time will tell.

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