Hethel will be making full use of their new Chinese parents.
British specialist marque Lotus have screwed down a solid 5-year plan for themselves, as part of new boss Phil Popham’s long-term vision to bring the maligned brand back to glory, and have confirmed a new model is coming next year as part of that strategy. It’ll also be the last car to run on Lotus’ current platform – after which, it’ll all be all-new.
The new model, which has not been named, is meant to improve upon traditionally-Lotus aspects of ownership, like difficult ingress & egress, limited practicality, and challenging ergonomics. To that end, we have a sneaking suspicion that it’ll supersede the Evora in the lineup, which could either be retired or retained as a more focused and driver-rewarding model.
The Lotus portfolio is set to expand, beyond the existing range. But once the new car is settled, the new platform (which is already in development) will come into play, and herald a renewal of the current Elise, Exige and Evora staples. Somewhere in that mix will be the Lotus SUV, as well as the ‘Project Omega’ all-electric halo.
“The focus for now is on replacing the products we have today, the sports cars. In a long time, Lotus has not had sight of what is required. You need a long-term plan, a product plan, and a business plan locked down with investment. We have that plan locked in.” – Phil Popham, Chief Executive Officer, Lotus Cars PLC
It’s clear that Popham is very excited by the Geely acquisition, and the benefits it brings. The “design, engineering, and manufacturing opportunities” afforded by being a part of the Geely group, as well as the “billions” of pounds that the company has offered towards the effort of reviving Lotus.
“All conceptual work and product planning management will sit at Lotus, but we can and will sub-contract packages back into Geely. They have lots of technology capabilities: A design studio in Coventry, engineers in Sweden, Germany, and China. We employed 150 engineers last year, and will employ more this year while also using the resources in Geely.” – Phil Popham, Chief Executive Officer, Lotus Cars PLC
Lotus is keen on exploring new areas for the brand, beyond its current constraints of only sports cars. SUVs appear to be the current focus, given the sheer volume that they’d invite. It’ll be critical then that with the arrival of Lotus SUVs that the brand’s value isn’t eroded, which Popham is entirely aware of.
“Our DNA of driving dynamics, performance, and lack of weight mean different things in different segments. But, we’ll be renowned for them in the segments that we’re in.” – Phil Popham, Chief Executive Officer, Lotus Cars PLC
The company will now embark on a journey towards operational efficiency, as Popham explained to Autocar that “the hours of build are too high,” with the number of parts and their correlating costs are “also too high.” But despite all this, Lotus sports cars will remain within reach price-wise, with no intention of expanding the current price points of the sports car range beyond where it presently sits.