Currently reading: Lotus confirms new sports car, end of Elise, Exige and Evora in 2021
Ageing trio will bow out to make way for lightweight V6 hybrid, while a new "family" of models is on the way
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3 mins read
25 January 2021

Lotus will end production of the Elise, Exige and Evora this year as it gears up for production of its new sports car series.

The new car, first detailed by Autocar and now officially confirmed to carry the development name Type 131, will go into prototype production at the British firm’s Hethel base this year. It's not yet clear whether customer examples will arrive in showrooms before 2021 is out. 

The announcement includes the phasing out of one of the Norfolk-based maker’s most important and iconic models: the Elise. Launched in 1995, it pioneered the use of an extruded-and-bonded aluminium chassis, which it still uses today.

However, Lotus has indicated that “a new generation of products” will follow the Type 131 and replace the three departing sports cars. It's not yet fully clear if these will be direct replacements or distinct new models.  

Lotus has invested £100 million to upgrade Hethel as part of its Vision80 strategy and is planning to recruit 250 new employees to help build the new car and outfit subsidiary Lotus Engineering’s new base in Warwick. This is on top of the 670 employees who have joined Lotus since Chinese car-making giant Geely took ownership in 2017. 

While Lotus has provided no official details of the Type 131, the new model will – as previously reported – sit above the outgoing Evora and make use of a V6 powertrain mated to an in-house hybrid system. Although it might not revive the name, the model is said to be in the spirit of the classic Esprit. 

The three models entering their final year of production as a result of the new model’s introduction will retain prominent positions in the Lotus history books. 

Alongside the pioneering and popular Elise, the Exige, which followed in 2000, was a hard-top, hardcore track-focused version of the Elise, and it also remains relatively unchanged today.

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The Evora, which made its debut in 2008, took Lotus back into the super sports car sector and proved a genuine challenger to the Porsche 911

Lotus says it will have sold around 55,000 examples of the three cars combined once the final examples leave the assembly line this year. But with those cars built on ageing platforms, the new car will kickstart the modernisation programme instigated by Geely.

The first new Lotus since the Geely purchase, the limited-run Evija electric hypercar, will go into production at Hethel later this year.

Lotus CEO Phil Popham said: “This year will be hugely significant for Lotus, with new facilities coming on stream, a new sports car entering production and new levels of efficiency and quality that only a new car design and factory can deliver. 

“Despite the continuing global challenges, Lotus has emerged from 2020 strong and on track in the delivery of our Vision80 business plan. ]

"Lotus is all about looking forward, and our future is full of continuous innovation. In 2021, however, we will be reflecting on the legacy of our current range, starting with the Elise, a sports car that genuinely revolutionised the automotive industry, not only because it is a legend-in-its-own-lifetime but also for its impact on car design and technology.”

The company promises that “a full programme of activities” is planned to celebrate the three departing models this year. That will start with the Elise, which is described as “the elder”. 

READ MORE

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jameshobiecat 26 January 2021
What a shame. The world is full of big expensive sports cars that are to powerful to enjoy on the road. The Elise formula of being small, light, (relatively) affordable and of modest power is rare.
lambo58 26 January 2021

Ahh, now the Lotus brand have been bought out by the Chinese we can expect this car company to be successful at long last and that requires the deep pockets of the Geely company.

Lots of touble- usually serious was never funny to someone like me who owned one of these things 15 years ago when I was still jingoistic and stupid. Worse purchasing deal I ever made, and certainly the worst built car I had ever experienced in my life, and that doesnt count the timeit spent at Bell and Covills

When the Chinese reveal what the new series of cars will look like when it  comes out I will look at the brand again as long as I feel they have got the build right and the reliability.

nimmler 26 January 2021
lambo58 wrote:

Ahh, now the Lotus brand have been bought out by the Chinese we can expect this car company to be successful at long last and that requires the deep pockets of the Geely company.

Lots of touble- usually serious was never funny to someone like me who owned one of these things 15 years ago when I was still jingoistic and stupid. Worse purchasing deal I ever made, and certainly the worst built car I had ever experienced in my life, and that doesnt count the timeit spent at Bell and Covills

When the Chinese reveal what the new series of cars will look like when it  comes out I will look at the brand again as long as I feel they have got the build right and the reliability.

 

ok boomer , thanks to the chinese lotus will be the next MG, a gutted brand 

lambo58 26 January 2021

Gutted? In what way? If you mean it will be reliable and usable on a daily basis,  yes please

jer 25 January 2021

Leave Volvo to the interior and tech! Not really the same thing a 100k car to replace a 45m car.