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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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Lotus Delaying Elan, Using Cash to Develop New V-8

British maker hopes to use in-house engine, rather than Toyota powertrain.

by on Jun.13, 2011

Lotus will delay its next-gen Elan in order to develop its own V8 for the new Esprit supercar.

Little Lotus dropped a bombshell at last year’s Paris Motor Show, announcing plans to roll out five all-new products in quick succession over the next few years.  Power for most, perhaps all, the offerings would come from Toyota, which has had a long-running relationship with Lotus.

 

Skeptics have questioned the British maker’s ability to fund the project, which carried a projected cost of about $1.2 billion.  And, indeed, it now appears Lotus is rejigging its plans, but not because they were too ambitious, the maker insists.  If anything, the Brits are looking at an even more elaborate strategy, one that could see them power those future offerings with a trio of engines developed in-house.

What appears certain is that the striking new Lotus Esprit, which is expected to carry a price tag nudging up towards $200,000, will rely on a new, naturally-aspirated liter V-8 of “under” 5.0-liters in displacement.  Originally, the Esprit, Elite and Eterne models were all going to turn to Toyota, which had agreed to share a supercharged version of the V-8 it uses in the brutish Lexus IS-F.

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Expect that with the in-house V-8, the Esprit will get “horsepower at least in the mid-500 range,” Kevin Smith, the U.S. spokesman for Lotus, confided in TheDetroitBureau.com.

 

To come up with the cash needed to develop the new engine, the next-generation Lotus Elan will be delayed until the rest of the new product line-up rolls out, which should mean sometime after 2016, it appears.

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Lotus Drops 5-Car Surprise At Paris Preview

British maker’s grand transformation includes sedan, hybrid – and lightweight sports cars.

by on Oct.01, 2010

The Lotus Elite is one of five new models coming from the British maker over the next few years.

The long-struggling British sports car maker, Lotus, gave us a wee tease of what they had in mind for the Paris Motor Show, some weeks back, when they released some tantalizing shots of the Elite concept vehicle.

Little did we – or, apparently, anyone else – suspect the much bigger news that would emerge at the Mondial de l’Automobile, a roll-out of five new concept vehicles intended to put in motion a grand reinvention of the Lotus brand.

The first model we got a glimpse of was the Lotus Elite (Click Here for the full story).  Set to go into production in April 2013, according to CEO Dany Bahar, the 2+2 will make elegant use of the new relationship between Lotus and Toyota Motor Co.  The Japanese giant has agreed to provide the muscle to move the Lotus brand from niche to mainstream, quite literally.

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For the Elite Concept, that means a mid-mounted V8 that drives a high-performance hybrid driveline – putting Lotus in line with all the other sporty and high-line brands that have come to Paris with electrified sports cars.  A “perfect contradiction,” suggests Bahar of the idea of putting the promisingly green technology into a high-performance model like Elite.

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Is a New Lotus Esprit Coming to Paris?

British maker hints of something big to come during upcoming motor show.

by on Jul.21, 2010

Is Lotus about to unveil a successor to its legendary Esprit sports car?

Hey 007, Lotus might be developing a successor to your ride in “The Spy Who Loved Me.” Or, maybe not.

The British sports and race car maker has issued a cryptically worded press release that says it expects to make a major announcement at the Paris Auto Show.

“Perhaps a new Esprit,” the automaker teases. “Perhaps not. Or perhaps [something] even more?”

Lotus produced the Esprit, possibly the most recognizable car in its history, from 1976 to 2004.

But it took James Bond to give the Esprit that extra push in the 1977 movie “The Spy Who Loved Me,” where the super-sleuth famously drove one into the water where it became a submarine to make one of his always spectacular escapes from the bad guys.

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Actor Richard Gere wasn’t quite so adept with the Esprit’s manual gearbox in 1989’s “Pretty Woman,” which created a chance encounter with a streetwalker played by Julia Roberts.  Not only did she have a heart of gold, but she knew how to shift.

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