December 22, 2014

New Lotus: The £770 million future

The New Lotus Esprit Paris

The New Lotus Esprit

It seems that Lotus has a £770 million war chest to make the concepts at the Paris Motor Show a reality.

The star of the Paris Motor Show for us was Jaguar with the C-X75 Concept. But if we were a little less cynical it would have been the New Lotus Concepts. But why the cynicism over the plans by Lotus to more than double their production and introduce an entire range of supercars over the next few years in a bid to take on Aston Martin, Bentley, Ferrari..? Simple – show us the money.

Lotus doesn’t make money. We’re not sure Lotus has had a profitable year since Proton bought it. Sure, its consultant engineering side probably turns a profit, but Lotus Cars is a bit of a money pit. So it would take a complete shake-up of Lotus and a serious investment to make the plan work. And it seems that’s what’s happening.

The plan started eighteen months ago by recruiting Dany Bahar from Ferrari as CEO (although the world didn’t know at first). Not just Dany but also Donato Coco, Ferrari designer. And the plan was to turn Lotus in to what Colin Chapman had dreamed it could be in the seventies.

We all assume Chapman was about cheap, light, simple and quick. But he abandoned that in the ’70s, sold off the rights to stuff like the Lotus Seven and embarked on a plan to become the British Ferrari with cars like the Esprit, Elite, Excel and Eclat. It didn’t work particularly well – apart from perhaps the Esprit – but that was what Chapman wanted.

And Proton – owners of Lotus – now seem intent on making Chapman’s dreams for Lotus come true. They are investing £770 million to make Lotus a world force in Supercars. The cars we saw at Paris are a serious statement of intent and – with $770 million in the war chest and capable hands at the tiller – they have got to have a more than fighting chance of pulling it off.

Seems our cynicism may have been misplaced. Not for the first time.

Source: Autoblog ES

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