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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, Toyota Expanding Ties On Track And Street

Makers planning announcements at upcoming Paris Motor Show.

by on Sep.20, 2010

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda and Lotus CEO Danny Bahar in Elise R.

When the tarp is lifted at the upcoming Paris Motor Show look for Lotus to unveil more than just a new model.  The British maker plans to announce details of its expanded partnership with Toyota, an alliance that is expected to involve both street and racing efforts.

Promising to “take (their) relationship to the next level,” the two makers intend to work together on “tailor-made powertrain solutions for Lotus cars,” they say.  The news was a significant development, presenting a positive spin on what could have been  troubling development for little Lotus.

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The British maker has long depended on Toyota engines for products like the Elise and Exige, but Toyota has pulled the plug on the torque little 2ZZ-GE engine used in those two-seaters.

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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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