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Friday 6th July 2012

Lotus: Dead weight lifted or dead man walking?

We investigate whether Lotus is back on track in the post-Bahar era


FoS sculpture was well received
FoS sculpture was well received
On the face of it, life seems to be looking up for Lotus after the sacking of boss Dany Bahar at the beginning of June.

Evora hybrid seems promising
Evora hybrid seems promising
The list of recent positives is long, starting with an excellent showing at Goodwood. Lotus was the featured marque and put in a mighty effort to impress the punters. The sculpture was lauded as one of the best in recent memory and the display of golden oldie race machinery up the hill impressive. The wonderfully bizarre door-stop Type 58 racer from 1968 stuck in the mind.

Then the company this week opened the doors on its flagship Regent St merchandising store in London. A £333 car coat might not be high on your shopping list, but the kit is mainly stylish and the shop well appointed. Let's not forget that Ferrari makes around a quarter of its profit from its stores.

The racing is going great guns, meanwhile. It might be mostly in name only, but when the Lotus F1 team is now regularly making the podium and currently sits third in the championship ahead of Ferrari, it's got to have a positive effect on the global perception of the company.

Racing heritage isn't translating into sales
Racing heritage isn't translating into sales
Lotus Engineering, a mostly separate entity to Lotus Cars, is also still deep-thinking its way to solutions to benefit both Lotus and its worldwide customers, most recently reaching the track testing phase for the Evora plug-in hybrid.

This is the car that's promised to accelerate faster to 60mph than the much-praised supercharged S but record just 55g/km of CO2 (around 120mpg).

So all this must be having a terrific effect on sales, right? Er no. Up to the end of June this year, Lotus had sold just 82 cars in the UK. That's down from 218 the year before, a fall of over 200 per cent. Even Saab sold more than that, and it's been defunct since December.

So what's the problem? We put that question to Lotus, who then sent it all the way to new owners DRB-Hicom in Malaysia, who declined to comment.

...but new branded store could help coffers
...but new branded store could help coffers
Given that Lotus would usually answer this themselves, it demonstrates just how much DRB-Hicom want to take control of the day-to-day stuff. Understandable when all the publicity outlay for expensive hobbies like racing hasn't translated into sales, and in fact seems to have done the opposite.

Let's hope the Evora convertible, expected to be revealed in a month or so, can go some way to halting the decline.

NickGibbs
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FactoryRSVR

Original Poster:

2 posts

31 months

[news] 
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
Maybe this also shows that years of motoring journos saying their products are great equally doesn't translate into sales. It would seem that car customers are smarter than the people that write about them.

MogulBoy

2,008 posts

107 months

[news] 
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
A fall of 62.38% to be precise.

SWoll

4,911 posts

142 months

[news] 
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
FactoryRSVR said:
Maybe this also shows that years of motoring journos saying their products are great equally doesn't translate into sales. It would seem that car customers are smarter than the people that write about them.
Smarter?

kambites

40,075 posts

105 months

[news] 
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
I find it very hard to see Lotus Cars surviving.

Kamox

113 posts

56 months

[news] 
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
Danny Bahar declared in an interview to Evo (19th April 2012):
"We have 1162 orders to fill [189 Elise, 156 Elise S, 350 Exige S, 182 Evora and 250 Evora GTE models] - which is incredible."
So? Are they producing those cars he was taking about?
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slipstream 1985

4,576 posts

63 months

[news] 
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
as i have said before do an elan for the masses. front wheel drive high spec aiming at the audi a1/tt mini catagory.

kambites

40,075 posts

105 months

[news] 
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
slipstream 1985 said:
as i have said before do an elan for the masses. front wheel drive high spec aiming at the audi a1/tt mini catagory.
It would either be 20% more expensive than its competition or a worse car.

Anyway, how is that "an Elan"? The (original) Elan was probably roughly on a par with the current Exige S, price-wise.

Ecosseven

1,181 posts

101 months

[news] 
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
That’s quite a drop in sales compared with last year. Perhaps the recession really is biting hard?

hornbaek

2,170 posts

119 months

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Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
Lotus is a mystery to me. Admittedly the decisions to headline Goodwood and the opening of a Picadilly Concept Store were taken long time ago but for a company that is allegedly in a dire financial state it resembles hara-kiri. Only journalists believe that a 3000 feet concept store in one of the most expensive UK / The World retail spaces will ever make money. This is marketing expenditure not income.

The Crack Fox

9,774 posts

76 months

[news] 
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
Hybrid Evora ? Oh FFS, what a way to burn money they don't have.

I'm a tad concerned that the impending range is merging into 1, they have roughly the same tub and comparable driving dynamics repackaged too many times (Elise/Exige/Evora, all hard top, all cabrio), that's 6 cars when demand is probably only for 2 (Hot Elise, well specced Evora). How much money could they save if they made just 2 cars and built the business model around that ? Have a 'skunkworks' (turnipworks ? - part of their engineering arm) to do customisation for wealthy clients who want 1 off special stuff, encourage owners to use the lovely new track there more often, drop dreams of selling thousands, focus on what they're good at !

I wish them every success, I really do. smile

Fittster

15,952 posts

97 months

[news] 
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
slipstream 1985 said:
as i have said before do an elan for the masses. front wheel drive high spec aiming at the audi a1/tt mini catagory.
Yeah, because it worked so well last time.

TVRinBFG

1,210 posts

168 months

[news] 
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
"Lotus had sold just 82 cars in the UK"

Is that sales, or cars registered? If it's cars registered, that 82 includes dealer demos and Lotus senior factory staff cars, so the actual figure is even worse.

slipstream 1985

4,576 posts

63 months

[news] 
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
Fittster said:
slipstream 1985 said:
as i have said before do an elan for the masses. front wheel drive high spec aiming at the audi a1/tt mini catagory.
Yeah, because it worked so well last time.
last time the premium small car market didnt exist and i am led to believe it is quite a profitable one.

kambites

40,075 posts

105 months

[news] 
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
Kamox said:
Danny Bahar declared in an interview to Evo (19th April 2012):
"We have 1162 orders to fill [189 Elise, 156 Elise S, 350 Exige S, 182 Evora and 250 Evora GTE models] - which is incredible."
So? Are they producing those cars he was taking about?
They do sell cars outside the UK (no idea how many, though).

Bill

31,553 posts

139 months

[news] 
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
SWoll said:
FactoryRSVR said:
Maybe this also shows that years of motoring journos saying their products are great equally doesn't translate into sales. It would seem that car customers are smarter than the people that write about them.
Smarter?
Odd choice of adjective.

I am amazed and dismayed by the sales figure of 82 frown

Captain Muppet

8,040 posts

149 months

[news] 
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
Ecosseven said:
That’s quite a drop in sales compared with last year. Perhaps the recession really is biting hard?
I read on Pistonheads that the production line stopped during the takeover. No cars = no sales.

car95

403 posts

76 months

[news] 
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
How many cars sold globally?

Without that information the UK figure is useless. With that information, the UK figure may be irrelevant.

nsmith1180

3,936 posts

62 months

[news] 
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
The big question is if they can keep the company going until they start to deliver the new models. If they are as good as they look, and half as good as the hype, it may save the company. If not, we will be down another UK motor manufacturer.

Lyons

102 posts

168 months

[news] 
Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
slipstream 1985 said:
as i have said before do an elan for the masses. front wheel drive high spec aiming at the audi a1/tt mini catagory.
They did that before: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotus_Elan#1990s_Elan Didn't work out...

Unfortunately, unless DRB-Hicom push though with Bahar's strategy, I think lotus have no chance. Porsche have the volume sports car market sewn up with higher quality products. Ferrari and Mclaren have moved the super car game on. All lotus have is a 16 year old low volume sports car platform, and a the Evora, that no one seems to like that much.

Virtually zero sales and money coming in, a big bill to swallow to get a decent product to market, and no guarantee regaining that investment when the product is on the market. If it was me, I'd cut my losses. Sincerely hope that DRB-Hicom don't...

f1ten

973 posts

37 months

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Friday 6th July 2012 quote quote all
i just dont get it, why the sales are so low?
Lotus hard followers wont like me for saying it but the Evora is over priced is my best guess? Although given the low fuel consumption and tough economic times surely the Elise should still be selling?!
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