Lotus In Even Deeper Than You Realized Car and Driver

4 Июн 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Lotus In Even Deeper Than You Realized Car and Driver отключены
Lotus Electric Cars

Lotus: In Even Deeper Than You Realized

At last year s Paris auto show. Lotus CEO Dany Bahar surprised the assembled press with six concept cars to show the way forward for the brand, complete with specs and production plans. Skeptics were puzzled about the unprecedented bean-spilling, which resembled an investor pep rally more than a press conference.

There was a city car—later christened Ethos—a new Elise, a new Esprit supercar, a new Elan to be positioned between the Elise and the Esprit, the Elite front-engine sports car, and a sedan called the Eterne. Or, to be more accurate, there were styling mock-ups of these proposed vehicles.

We couldn t help but wonder about this procession of cars, whose styling is just as indistinguishable as their names. Nor did we understand the decision to desert the current positioning of the Elise at a time when other carmakers are beginning to gravitate toward its light-weight, low-cost approach, or how Lotus would pay for the development and engineering of an entirely new vehicle family brimming with the latest technology.

Subsequently, we ve been treated to a flurry of news releases regarding partnerships, sponsorships, and celebrity plant visits. The very latest releases announced Bronx-raised rapper Swizz Beatz being hired as vice president of creative design and global marketing, and the all-important partnership with the Norwich City soccer team. We are not kidding.

Meanwhile, what s happening with the new cars supposed to be rushed into production? Bahar himself announced in a simulated interview published by his press department that the Elan would be delayed, not canceled, giving him more time to make sure that the quality of the Evora matches its undeniable performance. That s good news, if a bit late in light of the fact that the Evora was unveiled in 2008.

German journalist Thomas Geiger, who was present at an event at the company s headquarters in Hethel, U.K. a few weeks back, reports that the presentation consisted of PowerPoints instead of prototypes. According to Lotus, the Esprit is still slated for a debut in 2013. The next-generation Elise—which will be far heavier and more expensive than the current model—the four-seater Elite, and the four-door Eterne (of which just an exterior mockup exists so far) will have to wait until 2015. The Elan has supposedly been pushed back until 2017.

Rumor has it that Lotus tried to peddle the Evora to Caterham, but the maker of kit-car-like Lotus Seven derivatives politely declined. Now it seems the slow-selling Evora, powered by a Toyota Camry engine, will be built by Lotus until the Elan appears in 2017.

And then there s the two-seater city car; it will be equipped, says Lotus, with an alternative powertrain. Of course it will be. On a roll now, Lotus also announced that it will offer every one of its two-door sports cars in several versions: a sporty R model, a lightweight derivative, and a roadster. For the most powerful cars, Lotus will develop its own 4.8-liter V-8 with around 570 hp. This is instead of the company s original plan, which was to use supercharged Lexus engines—a plan that Lotus apparently failed to share with Toyota before announcing it to the public.

But that s not all: To keep its engineers from twiddling their thumbs, Lotus promises hybrid versions of all its cars as well.

Oh, and Bahar promises a €100-million investment into Lotus s production site, which is supposed to crank out 8000 cars annually, up from 2500 right now. How far has the ambitious project progressed? Fresh paint and a few excavators, according to Geiger.

Lotus Electric Cars

Who is going to pay for all of this? Proton, of course, the Malaysian carmaker that owns Lotus Cars and relies on Lotus Engineering for its own cars—far more than necessary, given the choice of competent global research-and-development consultancies. At a recent visit at Lotus headquarters in Hethel, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak endorsed the sports-car maker s plans.

But even he admitted to a small degree of skepticism due to the level of investment when he first learned of Bahar s plans.

Indeed, Bahar has spent vast amounts of money on staff and advisors, not to mention private jets and sponsorship deals, fantastic money at a point in time when Proton is so short on cash that vital new mainstream product and component programs are being delayed or canceled. One of the casualties is an extremely promising scalable-engine program co-developed with Ricardo that would have given Proton a significant edge over the competition. What s more, it could have delivered the troublesome (and incidentally, Lotus-engineered) Campro engine a well-deserved final blow.

But Proton spent the money on Lotus instead, and, for good measure, on a hideously costly electric-vehicle program with British firm Frazer-Nash Research. That partnership has produced little more than a few prototypes, mostly inoperable, and could go down in flames at any time.

If Proton s patience runs out, Lotus s prospects for bringing all five sports cars, plus the city car, onto the road in the proposed time frame are slim to none. At best, Bahar might get one car out—in a non-U.S. version, an insider tells us. Perhaps some extra money will come from U.K. authorities. Bahar has made it clear that Lotus could move operations abroad, to France, or India.

Even the skeptics will admit that changes at Lotus were necessary: The pre-Bahar working attitude at Hethel was described to us by insiders as operating in a comfort zone, with little attention paid to cost efficiency, and an overall mindset that sent the company into a slow spiral to …. Lotus was unable to turn a profit for many years, but neither did the company gobble up cash at the current rate, which is a direct result of Bahar s turnaround plan. But another switch in Lotus s top management won t be easy. Bahar, we hear, has an elaborate contract with Proton that would make his discharge prohibitively expensive, or could see him walk away with a significant chunk of the company. Auditors at Proton, a confidant tells us, are pulling their hair out.

Why don t they just chill and listen to their new VP? Mr. Beatz has got some fine lyrics for them: Where the cash at?

Lotus Electric Cars
Lotus Electric Cars
Lotus Electric Cars
Lotus Electric Cars
Lotus Electric Cars
Lotus Electric Cars
Lotus Electric Cars
Lotus Electric Cars

Interesting articles

Other articles of the category "Lotus":

Our partners
Follow us
Contact us
Our contacts



About this site

For all questions about advertising, please contact listed on the site.

Catalog ALL Electric Cars and hybrid/ News and Information about Electric Car and Electric Vehicle Technologies, batteries for vehicle catalog with specifications, pictures, ratings, reviews and discusssions about Electric and Hybrid cars - Green energy