Lotus owner agrees new strategy, but Bahar's five-model plan is dead

Lotus owner DRB-Hicom has signed off a three-year programme to revitalise the struggling firm.

Although details remain scarce, it has been confirmed that the company has already spent more than £100 million keeping Lotus afloat, and that the rise in sales during that time has been enough to convince it that Lotus is worth investing in.

“We have cleaned up and we are moving ahead,” DRB managing director Tan Sri Mohd Khamil Jamil told Malaysian media, highlighting the financial, technical, marketing and product planning problems the firm inherited when it took control of Lotus’s parent company, Proton.

“We are coming out with the variants based on existing products — variants with improved technology, improved performance, improved quality as well as improved costing,” he said. 

The first of these was the Lotus Exige S roadster, and Jamil confirmed that the firm plans to launch more variants of the Evora and Elise. Of the Exige S roadster, Jamil said: “It is not going to sell in big volumes, but it is a big step.”

Jamil also confirmed that Lotus sold 70 cars up to the end of May — as opposed to 80 in all of 2012. Production is now said to be stepping up to 40 cars per month, with 85 per cent of them exported. 

It is this revival that is said to underpin business secretary Vince Cable’s willingness to sign off a £10 million investment as part of the Regional Growth Fund. The RGF is designed for new jobs and training and for R&D projects.

Jamil also confirmed that the five-car, five-year plan developed under the stewardship of Dany Bahar has been officially killed off.  However, speculation continues that the Esprit project was close to fruition when DRB took over and that it could be revived at relatively little cost.

It was also confirmed that Proton has signed a collaboration deal with Honda, although Jamil declined to discuss the terms of the arrangement.

Our Verdict

The Lotus Elise gets a Toyota-sourced 1.6 in a bid to tune mph/mpg mix

Join the debate

Comments
11

20 July 2013

And only 80 in the whole of 2012?

 

This comes as a shock.   It's simply not enough.   Updating of the current models is just a sticky plaster.   Although I personally think that the Elise moved the wrong direction with it's last update; why the 1.6l engine that made a sports car go slower?   Softer looking too.

 

The investment, however, is excellent news.   I hope to see something from Norfolk that young boys put posters on their wall and adults buy with their son's approval!

 

Car buyer's expectations have risen in the last decade or so.   Lotus must follow and meet those expectations.   It can be done.

20 July 2013

The engine choice was good, they should be getting smaller, but made sure to be lighter too. The 1.6 is much more powerful than the original 1.8.

The fault lies in the kerb weight of the cars creeping up and up.

The target should be an Elise with a 1.0 engine perhaps using the Ford ecoboost. With some kind of antilag system.

 

20 July 2013

I agree with Turismo's sentiment entirely. However, I was thinking BMW 3 pot with 200+bhp!! Light weight Elise, thrummy 3 cly and a loads of torque would be right up my street.

20 July 2013

...or just those sold in Britain? 

Either way, it's good to see some investment in the company. And who knows, with the current interest in the forthcoming Alpine, Caterham and Alfa Romeo sports cars, the Elise / Exige may actually benefit. 

The Lotus has had the benefit of nearly 20 years development and it's certainly a lot more affordable than its new competitors.    

20 July 2013

With the Alpha 4c, and Caterham/Alpine joining the Porsche Boxer as competition, why would anyone want to buy a Lotus?

 

 

20 July 2013

If you produce a niche product, you will achieve niche sales. making something that looks good that can only be used on B roads or tracks will rule out most journeys. It's also not cheap, nor is it expensive, so it rules out the show off rich people and rules out the blue collars who don't have disposable income in spades. So it's targeting who exactly? Personally I'm surprised they even got 80 sales. I think they need to move up or down the price scale to achieve more sales, which I assume is the easiest way to ease their financial issues. Alternatively make cars which are a little bit more usable and risk the wrath of the purists (who are vocal but don't buy cars)

20 July 2013

It's a load of bull. So that means they'll become the Saab of sports cars. When will they ever develop a new model? A lightweight 1.6 Elise is fine, but when they add the 'quality, technology and performance' it will push the car straight into Boxster territory. At 37k a base 2.7 Boxster is still a very fine, attainable and desirable car even without the frills. All I can say is good luck Lotus, and hope I am proved wrong.

21 July 2013

All the usual negative comments from those that have no idea what they are talking about, dont you realiswe that DRb would not have invested 100m or continue if there was no profits, or sales, and dont forget that Lotus has a massive engineering part that a lot of other manufacturers take advantage of and brings in vast sums of money.

For those who went to GFoS the Lotus stand was enormous and filled full of great looking cars,  The Evora is relatively new, with the Elise and Exige having had makeovers also reletively recently.

 

It will be a sad day if they do not allow the new Esprit to be built considering that so much has been spent and it is so close to being produced, this super car is just what Lotus needs to bring it round once again.

TBC

21 July 2013

The Elise should be the firm's bread & butter model, if, as it appears, they were not selling them in any number, it's no wonder Lotus were in such trouble.

If the new owners can find new markets to sell sufficient numbers to finance it's replacement, and sell that in even bigger numbers, then there may be a chance of Lotus producing new models.

As the Americans use the Elise chassis as a base for something that produces over 1000bhp, it bodes well for a number of variants to be spun of it, including new models, such as an Esprit replacement.

21 July 2013

jonboy4969 - they haven't invested 100 million in new development, but in 'keeping it afloat'.

While I don't doubt the new leadership's intentions, I have to question as to how they'll keep the range fresh. Perceptions are dangerously strong in such an extreme niche that Lotus operates in. They need to get serious about luring Boxster drivers to the brand. And 80 cars, if even in UK, is not going to cut it.

It's not about people making 'usual negative comments' mate, it's about proving us wrong. Lotus has Everest to climb and survive.

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week