Lotus reveals radical new direction
Lotus is planning a radical shake-up of its heritage as it pushes upmarket to take on Porsche, Ferrari and Aston Martin as part of what it is calling “the dawn of a new era”.
The radical restructuring includes dropping founder Colin Chapman’s ‘lightweight and simple’ ethos for all new cars, instead using more complex, more expensive and more upmarket manufacturing techniques.
Steve Cropley blog: Lotus’s new direction – shocking and predictable
However, its current range is expected to survive for now – with only the new models adopting the company’s radically altered philosophy.
While Lotus has refused to divulge its vision for the company’s future until the Paris motor show in September, company owner Proton has held a briefing in Malaysia outlining its plans to make Lotus profitable within five years. Lotus has not made a profit for Proton since it bought it in 1996.
Proton and Lotus chairman Datuk Mohd Nadzmi Mohd Salleh outlined the company’s plans to build cars under a new motto, “Tomorrow’s luxury sports car, today”.
The average car will cost £80,000-£110,000, the prices being justified by the use of technology including seven-speed twin clutch transmissions, active aerodynamics, continuously variable dampers, hybrid and range extender systems, heads up displays, and the option of more alternatively-fuelled variants.
Under the plan, Lotus plans to raise sales from the current 2000-25000 cars a year to 6000-8000 within five years. It will sell vehicles in 55 countries – up from the current 30.
These sales increases will be fuelled by a Lotus city car, which will be spun off Proton’s own new city car, which was previewed by the EMAS concept by Italian design house Giugiaro at this year’s Geneva motor show.
Both Proton and Lotus models will have the same powertrains and mechanical essentials. However there will be a high level of exterior and interior differentiation – leading to comparisons with the Aston Martin Cygnet, which is based on the Toyota iQ.
See pictures of the EMAS concept
Datuk Mohd Nadzmi Mohd Salleh also outlined key appointments from rival manufacturers, which he hopes will fast-track Lotus into the luxury sportscar market.
These include ex-Ferrari man Dany Bahar, who is now Lotus CEO, ex-Ferrari director of design Donato Coco, Andreas Schlegel from Aston Martin’s marketing and network development, Andreas Prillmann, formerly director of sales and business development at Ferrari, Robert Hentschel from EDAG USA and Frank Tuch, who was director of quality management at Porsche.
Datuk Mohd Nadzmi Mohd Salleh also announced that Lotus Engineering will become more heavily involved in developing vehicles for Proton and Lotus Cars.
Lotus Engineering has also formed a strategic partnership with engine component company Fagor Ederlan to put the 1.2 liter three-cylinder Lotus Range Extender engine into production.
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