Top Lotus advisor says firm must do more to win buyers

Lotus is beefing up its sales efforts over the next 18 months because it is “not selling enough cars”, according to a senior company advisor.

Former BMW executive Karl-Heinz Kalbfell was drafted in late last year to mentor Lotus CEO Dany Bahar, and his plan is to drive an increase in Lotus’s sales in the short term.

See Frankfurt show pics of the Lotus Evora GTE

“The brand is well known but the products are not,” said Kalbfell. “We are focusing on a new range of cars, but we must sell more cars now.”

In the UK, Lotus sales are struggling, with just 272 cars registered in the first eight months of 2011, compared with 358 in the same period last year. That’s 24 per cent down in an overall market that’s down six per cent.

“We have some great cars in our range, like the Evora. Many car companies would love to have the Evora in their range. Now the point must be to get the car on the shopping list of buyers,” said Kalbfell.

A key model in the global strategy is the Evora GTE, whose 438bhp V6, revised chassis and carbonfibre body parts will nudge the price towards £120k.

Lotus hopes the GTE will warm up customers for the new, £100k-plus Esprit, due for launch late next year.

“We cannot just jump buyers up from the Elise to the Esprit,” said Kalbfell.

The £40k V6-powered Exige S, also new at Frankfurt, is another model that will bridge the gap to the Esprit, Lotus believes. “With 350bhp and 1080kg, who else has such a hot performance model at this price?” said Kalbfell.

Part of his focus is to sharpen the rest of the Lotus business in preparation for the new range of cars. “We also have to work on the dealer body, the potential customers and what will be the aftersales service,” he said.

Kalbfell is also working to improve management efficiency. “The company is not good at coming to a joint decision,” he said. “So I am also creating a management platform where problems, delays, whatever can be discussed.”

Julian Rendell

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