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Struggling Lotus Unveils New Evora 400

British maker bills it as its fastest model ever.

by on Feb.18, 2015

Lotus hopes the new Evora 400 will help put it back on the map after a series of disasters.

Struggling Lotus has lately sounded a lot like Mark Twain, repeatedly insisting that reports of its demise have been greatly exaggerated, despite plenty of reason for concern, including management shake-ups and the collapse of an ambitious, and ultimately unrealistic, product development program.

But Lotus is showing at least some signs of life, the latest coming with the unveiling of its all-new, mid-engine Evora 400. The latest update of the Evora line is more than just a cosmetic update, insists the maker which is based in Hethel, Norfolk. It claims that “over two-thirds” of the Lotus Evora 400 is new, including its supercharged 3.5-liter V-6.

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“The Evora 400 is the fastest road-going Lotus that we have ever produced, possessing performance that can only be matched by cars costing significantly more,” boasted Group Lotus Chief Executive Officer Jean-Marc Gales. “It delivers supercar looks allied to supercar performance.”

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Lotus Mulls Cutting a Quarter of its Workforce

Maker enters 45-day consultation period to develop a plan.

by on Sep.18, 2014

The Lotus Evora 4414 plug-in got the nod of approval from the auto engineering world, but that wasn't enough to keep it from financial issues.

Just four years ago, the future for Lotus appeared bright with plans for a burgeoning product portfolio bolstered by enthusiastic management; however, those efforts appear to have failed as the company plans to cut as much as a quarter of its workforce.

The company announced plans today to reorganize the company and terminate as many as 325 of its 1,215 employees worldwide. Part of the restructuring will see the company trying to do more with less as a result of the job losses.

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“We understand the concerns that this proposal will create,” said Jean-Marc Gales, chief executive officer of Group Lotus, in a statement. “We deeply regret the potential impact any reshaping of the business may have on our employees and their families. (more…)

Debt Mounting, Lotus May Delay or Drop Some Planned Models

New Esprit, other projects in trouble.

by on Oct.15, 2012

The eagerly-awaited Lotus Esprit could fall victim to the company's mounting financial problems.

No manufacturer likes to see its name linked to a recall.  But a minor headache for a maker like General Motors or Toyota can turn into a migraine for a cash-strapped company such as Lotus that is already struggling to keep its product development programs funded.

The numbers are modest – just 80 Evora S models sold last year could be subject to engine oil leaks or fires – but it is the latest in a series of mounting problems that face the maker’s owners and raise growing concerns that Lotus will have to abort an ambitious product development program designed to transform it into a series player in the global sports car market.

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Both the much-awaited Lotus flagship, the Esprit could be in trouble, according to numerous industry sources, while other projects have been slowed as the British maker tapers back on the bold, 5-product launch plans it revealed during a show-stopping news conference at the 2010 Paris Motor Show.

Lotus owner, the Malaysian-based DRB-Hicom, is now facing legal action on the part of unpaid suppliers due a reported $40 million.  The owner of the British-based maker is now asking U.K. authorities to lend a hand by delaying upcoming tax payments.

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Updated: Lotus Pulls Back on Ambitious Product Plan – Is VW Bid in Offing?

Lutz and advisory board dumped.

by on Jul.27, 2012

Lotus originally developed the Evora GTE for the Le Mans circuit but had hinted it might do a version for the street.

This story has been updated to reflect the latest development involving the Lotus advisory board.

For long-time Lotus fans it seemed too good to be true: the British maker promising to turn out a whopping five new cars in a five-year burst of activity unlike any period in its long but oft-troubled history.

Well, indeed, it was too good to be true.  After discharging Chief Executive Dany Bahar, the automaker’s parent, DRB-Hicom Bhd, has scrapped that ambitious plan and is aiming at what several observers are referring to as a “much more realistic,” meaning downsized, product roll-out.

Meanwhile, former General Motors car czar Bob Lutz confirmed he and the rest of the Lotus advisory board have been terminated as part of the maker’s cost-cutting efforts.

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Could Lotus be leaning out its product plans to make the company seem more appealing for a buyer? That’s one possibility, industry sources suggest, new reports surfacing that suggest Germany’s Volkswagen AG might be interested in buying both the Lotus Group but also Hicom’s Malaysian-based Proton.

“In this day and age, with the cost of developing a new vehicle, building the tools and homologating a sports car,” said analyst Joe Phillippi, of AutoTrends Consulting, the Lotus plan to turn out five new product seemed “overly ambitious.”

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Shake-Up at Lotus

CEO Dany Bahar ousted over alleged misconduct.

by on May.29, 2012

Lotus's now suspended CEO Dany Bahar.

Lotus CEO Dany Bahar has been ousted due to alleged irregularities connected to a lavish expense account that he reportedly used, among other things, to bill two homes in Norwich, UK to the sports carmaker.

The oft-controversial Turkish-Swiss Bahar is the man behind an aggressive product development program intended to transform Lotus into a major player in the global exotic car market.  It’s unclear what his suspension will mean to that effort.

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Lotus has confirmed that, Bahar was “temporarily suspended from his role, to facilitate an investigation into a complaint about his conduct.”

The Swiss-born executive was reportedly playing fast and loose with his expenses, according to reports in the British press.  Bahar was already involved in a legal dispute involving one of the two Norwich homes.

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Team Lotus Buys Caterham Cars

Both trace roots to Lotus founder Colin Chapman.

by on Apr.27, 2011

Caterham rolls out a special-edition 7 to celebrate its sales to Lotus.

Team Lotus Enterprises has expanded its motorsports base by acquiring Caterham Cars, an investment group led by London-based Corven Ventures. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Both makers trace their heritage back to Colin Chapman, the founder of Lotus Cars, the British sports car company – with which there are no current ties.

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“Caterham has a unique place at the heart of the motoring world. As well as being proudly and staunchly British, it has an enviable and uniquely unblemished reputation within the industry for performance, handling and engineering excellence,” said Lotus chief Tony Fernandes, who also owns Air Asia.

To celebrate the new deal, Caterham plans to produce a limited run of 50 Team Lotus Seven club racers bearing the team’s green and yellow colors.

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First Look: 2011 Lotus Elise

Keeping things pure and simple.

by on Feb.17, 2010

Lotus is putting a premium on weight and aerodynamics with the 2011 Elise.

I’ve been a fan of U.K. sports cars, I must confess, since my earliest days behind the wheel.  Sadly, the brand names I grew up with – Triumph, MG, Austin-Healy – have all vanished, leaving just a few options for those who covet British racing green.  Morgan is little more than a costly paean to the past.  But there is another option, one that has both captured the essence of that bygone era and yet brought it into line with the modern world.

Admittedly, owning a Lotus does require some sacrifice, and for aging Boomers, indeed, anyone  over about 5’10, it requires either a chiropractor on call or an extended study of yoga to squeeze into the little Elise.  But that’s a small price to pay.

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Fans will immediately recognize the basic lines of the 2011 Lotus Elise; the changes for the upcoming model-year are modest, but nonetheless significant.  With a revised front clamshell, rear bumper and engine cover, as well as better-integrated headlamps – which now incorporate LED running lights and turn signals – Lotus has improved Elise’s aerodynamics by about 4%.  A small number, perhaps, but one that nonetheless translates into a measurable improvement in fuel economy, the maker claims.

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Formula One Racing Exodus Continues as Toyota and Bridgestone Announce Exits

Only Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Renault will compete as makers during the next racing season that starts in March.

by on Nov.05, 2009

The extreme costs and super rich image is driving makers out of Formual One.

The extreme costs and super excessive image is driving automakers out of Formula One.

Toyota Motor Corporation is leaving the super expensive Formula One racing circuit next year. Bridgestone, a major supplier to Toyota is withdrawing the year following.

The latest moves to cut team costs of almost half a billion dollars annually for leading marques means that only Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Renault  will compete as makers next season.

Ferrari is threatening to leave the series as well. Honda and BMW had previously withdrawn.

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Race With Us!

Lotus Cars, now owned by Proton, is returning after a 15-year absence. In addition, several new smaller teams are thought to be preparing low budget entries for the new season, which starts in March. Previously, Lotus said it plans to spend only $90 million next year, compared to Toyota’s estimated $500 million annual investment in the hugely popular global sport.

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Lotus E-REVving With Extended-Range Electric

Technology to debut at 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show.

by on Sep.08, 2009

Lotus will show off a high-tech powertrain, rather than a new model, at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, an extended-range electric vehicle package.

Lotus will show off a high-tech powertrain, rather than a new model, at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, an extended-range electric vehicle package.

While most automakers will be shining the spotlight on their latest sheet metal, Lotus Engineering will put the focus on the iron and aluminum underneath during its news conference at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, next week.

The company, the consulting and engineering arm of Lotus Cars, has provided us with this sneak peek at its new Range-Extended engine, a serial hybrid system similar to what will debut inside the Chevrolet Volt, in November 2010.

The concept would permit a manufacturer using the EREV (for Extended-Range Electric Vehicle) technology to blend what are arguably the best assets of an electric vehicle and a more conventional hybrid-electric; an EREV, like Volt, can initially be driven solely on electric power and then, when its batteries run down, the system switches to a small internal combustion engine.

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Power Up!

As with Volt, the Lotus EREV uses its aluminum, 3-cylinder, 1.2-liter gas engine solely as a generator.  When it fires up, it can send current to the system’s 47 horsepower electric motor, or it can be used to recharge the battery pack.

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