With the first Lotus Exige S rolling off the production line today, and this weekend’s debut of the Lotus Evora GX GRAND-AM GT car, there is plenty going on in the world of the lightweight boutique brand.
But all anyone wants to talk about is the inner turmoil that has brought itself to the surface recently, and with good reason. Lotus fired CEO Dany Bahar in June and reports have surfaced this week that the company will scale down its wildly ambitious plan to produce five new models by 2016.
So what does this mean for the future of Lotus?
Yesterday, AutoCar reported that the company issued a new business plan to their creditors with more realistic goals, probably the introduction of a new Esprit in addition to current models – a stark contrast indeed from promising five concept cars at the 2010 Paris Auto Show would all reach production.
There will always be interest in Lotus, both from customers and corporations. The current Elise and Evora models have been praised in the automotive media for their driving excitement and relative value.
The Exige S, delivering soon, is widely considered the most extreme car the company has ever built. Sales should not be a problem. With a 345 horsepower, supercharged 3.5L V6 engine powering a car weighing just under 2,600 lbs., enthusiasts will be quick to snatch them up.
Performance will never be an issue with Lotus cars, but viability often has. Parent companies Proton and DRB-Hicom have made efficiency a key priority with the ouster of Bahar and the announcement to curb expectations; a goal that will not only improve the long-term sustainability of Lotus but also make them more appealing to companies like Volkswagen – who may be considering buying the brand. In the meantime, Lotus have just opened a new flagship shop in London and recently expanded efforts into growing markets like China and Malaysia. A recent interview with COO Aslam Farikullah should bring cautious optimism to Lotus fans:
I want the Lotus name to become a by-word in the automotive industry for integrity, which means delivering quality products on the dates we say we will deliver them. As a start, we will refocus our human resources in order to further strengthen our Quality Department by 20%, clearly demonstrating our future intent. [Full interview here.]
As we’ve explained before with the Camry Conundrum, financial viability is always positive for an automaker because it allows them the freedom to throw money at enthusiast projects like the Lexus LFA or, in this case, a 2014 Esprit to battle Ferrari and McLaren. We don’t know yet whether that’s still on the table, but it looks like Lotus is, in that regard, doing what they do best: turning the corner.
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