RAC Cars News


Lotus On The Way Forward

By raccars Published

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After reports last week that it will be obliged to shed 325 jobs, British sports car brand, Lotus, has sent its new CEO, Jean-Marc Gales, out to assure the auto press and fans of the brand that the redundancies will be part of a positive move forward, rather than a desperate, last ditch attempt to save a sinking ship. The company's chief executive hasn't shied away from acknowledging Lotus's problems of the last few years but has confirmed that the brand is now working to a very solid plan for its future.

Former CEO, Dany Bahar, at the helm from 2010-2012, came up with an ambitious product development plan based around a five car line up, but this didn't work for Lotus's parent company and he left under a cloud in 2012. Now that Gales is in charge, a firm development initiative has been set, based upon derivatives of the existing three car line up - to start with...

Gales is very clear on the value attached to the Lotus brand. He and the rest of the Lotus leadership want to hang on to the blueprint set in the early days of Lotus founder, Colin Chapman, which included lightweight, agile driving pleasure, rather than an overhaul the brand's image. As such the next two to three years will be spent extending the potential of the current Elise, Evora and Exige. There are plans to further reduce weight, enhance performance and handling and make the cars more practical to use on an everyday basis, without losing the spirit of the brand. While Dany Bahar's efforts have been largely consigned to the dustbin, some of the technologies and supply chains he helped to develop are likely to be retained for future exploitation.

While no specifics have been given, the firm has discussed the possibility of extending its model line up after 2017. A saloon and an SUV are on the cards but again the emphasis is on maintaining Lotus principles - any SUV or crossover would have to exhibit the lightness, agility and sheer driving pleasure that is characteristic of the badge. However, Gales seems confident that it is possible to transfer those qualities outside his company's traditional two seater sports car pattern.

The firm has also ruled out the possibility of developing its own engine range and plans to continue using the Toyota sourced units currently powering the existing line up, while considering co-opting in its part owner, Proton, for future projects.

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