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Lotus might still be hard at work developing its made-in-China SUV, but that apparently hasn’t stopped it from paying its attention on the car it is still most recognised by. That’s right – CEO Jean-Marc Gales has said that the Hethel is still committed to building a next-generation Lotus Elise, according to Autoblog.

Gales confirmed the existence of a plan to develop the next generation of the company’s iconic lightweight sports car. He also admitted that while the unassisted steering of the current car will not be around for much longer, an Elise with electric power steering is off the table, with Lotus sticking to a hydraulic system. “Lotus will not fit electrical steering [systems]. They take away the steering feel,” he said.

This comes hot on the heels of a report coming from Autocar at the end of last month, in which Gales said that the next Elise will be arriving in 2020, using the same extruded aluminium technology used on the first Elise. The British publication stated that while the car will remain the same length as the current Elise, it will be slightly wider.

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That’s because the car will come with side airbags and additional side impact structures to meet United States crash protection standards, as the Elise will make a return to that market. The absence of these items caused it and its sibling, the Exige, to be withdrawn from showrooms there in 2011.

Gales added that the car will not be in any way related to the Elise Concept that was part of the infamous canned five-model plan introduced in 2010. That car was supposed to be more upmarket, heavier and powered by a larger, more powerful 2.0 litre forced-induction engine, whereas the proper next-generation car will go back to its roots as a lightweight sports car – with a target weight of 900 kg, no less.

Apart from the Elise, Gales also touched on the possibility of alternative power sources, saying that the company will not build a hybrid model as such technology adds weight and complexity, as well as taking up too much space. “Besides, when you have low mass it’s easy to be efficient,” he said.

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However, Gales added that a pure electric vehicle is something Lotus is willing to consider, but won’t be built any time in the near future. In fact, an electric Elise already sort of existed in the form of the Tesla Roadster, which was built on the Elise’s aluminium chassis.

On the topic of its upcoming SUV, Gales said that the segment in which the off-roading Lotus will be playing in “is an interesting market,” adding that the car is still very much in the design phase. “We’re working on a concept but haven’t made a decision yet,” he said.

Previously, Bernama reported that the SUV will be sold not only across China, but in other Asian markets as well. This concurs with then-chairman of Proton Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s previous remarks that a Lotus SUV will indeed be sold outside China (and could be badged as a Proton as well), contrary to prior reports.