A roadster version of the Lotus Evora 400 will be launched in 2017, boss Jean-Marc Gales has revealed, and is likely to account for more than half of the company’s sales in America.
The new model will follow the introduction of the 400bhp V6-powered Evora 400 coupé, which went into production last summer.
“We are working on it now,” said Gales at last year's Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Gales said the Evora 400 would lose no structural rigidity when converted from a coupé to a convertible, due to the design of its extruded and bonded aluminium tub chassis.
“It’s a quicker build,” the Lotus boss said. "The chassis is a tub, so there’s no impact with the roof off.”
The roof of the Evora roadster will be made up of two removable panels weighing 3kg each. The panels can be stored on board behind the front seats.
Gales says the body’s torsional stiffness of 27,000Nm/degree and weight of 1395kg won’t be compromised by the change, because the roof of the coupé doesn’t currently add rigidity.
“It’s so simple it makes you wonder why it wasn’t done six years ago,” said Gales, referring to the launch of the original Evora.
Gales, who has driven the model during its development, said the Evora roadster is crucial for the firm in the US in particular, where half of all sports cars in the Evora segment are open-top. Lotus believes the roadster will follow this trend and account for more than 50% of Evora sales in the US. Gales expects sales to number between 500 and 700 cars a year.
The Evora roadster is otherwise expected to match the spec of the Evora 400 coupé, including its supercharged 3.5-litre V6.
The open-top Evora is understood to have been delayed because Lotus wants to launch the coupé model first in the US before adding the Roadster version.
Speaking to Autocar at the Geneva motor show, Gales revealed that Lotus' order banks are currently fuller than they have been at any point in the last six years. He said Lotus can make a profit by selling 2000 cars per year, and that the company will hit that in the 2016/17 tax year.