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Monday 30th July 2012

Lotus five-car future is canned

But new owners are backing the sports car maker



The ambitious Lotus 'five cars in five years' plan has been cut to a single new car for launch in 2014, likely to be the Lotus Esprit.

"The Dany Bahar plan is no longer viable. It has been closed down," a source close to the company confirmed to PistonHeads, referring to the now-sacked boss of Lotus.

The good news is that new owner DRB-Hicom is committed to Lotus, and has poured £100m into the company this year with another £100m due in 2013, according to our man on the inside.

Of all the plot twists surrounding the Hethel marque, the cancellation of the bulk of the Paris show cars is perhaps the least surprising. Seasoned Lotus watchers, of which PistonHeads has more than its fair share, greeted with incredulity Bahar's unveiling of concepts for five new sports cars, three selling for over £100,000, at the Paris motor show in 2010.


The ex-Ferrari marketing man had persuaded owners Proton to pour money into the ailing Lotus to create nothing less than a British version of Ferrari. Ambitious wasn't the word.

He'd probably be still trying if it weren't for the fact that Proton was sold in January to private Malaysian group DRB-Hicom, who were decidedly less misty eyed about the idea than previous owners the Malaysian government.

We heard nothing from the new owners for months, other than that the £270 million investment, of which £207m had been drawn down, had been frozen. We since learned that the cash supply had been halted by the lending Malaysian banks "due to concerns of the leadership of the company", according to our source, who has a direct line of contact with new boss Aslam Farikullah.

After the comedy denials came the inevitable sacking of Bahar in June "following the results of an investigation into a complaint made against him," according to DRB.

All this could have scared off DRB, and we hear it had the opportunity to sell Lotus when another, unnamed maker offered £1 earlier this year. That's exactly what Proton did with motorbike firm MV Augusta in 2005 when it sold it for one euro.

But instead the firm is backing Lotus, still planning on taking it upmarket, but at a much more methodical pace.


"Aslam has been has been telling everyone, cars should be launched only when the engineers are completely and utterly happy with it," our source tells us. "You can't go to an engineer and say we want a car by Wednesday week."

We're told Lotus won't be sacking anyone, but they have let go of 57 contractors. We don't know the fate of the superstar signings, for example ex-Ferrari designer Donato Coco. We also don't know what's going to happen to Lotus's wide-reaching motorsports sponsorship programme, although our man tells us that any sponsorship will have to "deliver for the company".

We're told quality is the new mantra, making sure every car is spot on. "Lotus believes the best way to improve its profile to produce great cars and ensure fantastic feedback," says our source.

New variants of existing models are planned in the next couple of years, including in 2013 the long-awaited convertible Evora.

Of course everything could be up in the air again if the rumours are true that VW wants to buy Proton.

But at the moment it looks like it's back to business as usual at Lotus. Not setting the world alight, but not being consumed in a fireball of ego and over-ambition either...

NickGibbs
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Hellbound

Original Poster:

2,235 posts

60 months

[news] 
Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
Is the investment and future planned investment intended to increase the value of Proton?

I don't doubt if VW buy Proton, they'll have a totally different approach to running Lotus.

V8 FOU

1,295 posts

31 months

[news] 
Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
Hoo-ray!!
At last sensible plans for Lotus. Just knock all the silly plans on the head, stop lending out cars and go for 'organic' growth.
Keep the Regent St Store too. That has got ot be a winner. Or if it doesn't show a decent profit after a year can that too...

DanS

1,074 posts

168 months

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Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
good lord, the most astonishing bit of news.

W00DY

7,857 posts

110 months

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Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
No one in the Universe thought their 5 car plan was going to happen.


paul71a

124 posts

117 months

[news] 
Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
JUDT GIVE ME A BLOODY ESPRIT THAT I'VE BEEN PROMISED FOR FIVE YEARS!

and breathe........

I'm sick of waiting .. my S4S went in '07 and the Aston & 2 ferrari's have struggled to fill the emotional hole.... come on chaps. bring it on!




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mylesmcd

1,380 posts

103 months

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Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
I would also look very closely at an Espirt too.

frosted

3,549 posts

61 months

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Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
What exactly did 100 million achieve or is it just funny money, poured in at one end then syphoned at the other ?

Beefmeister

11,913 posts

114 months

[news] 
Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
article said:
new boss Aslam Farikullah.


confused

E30Addict

751 posts

56 months

[news] 
Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
At last, a plan that appears to have a viable business case instead of pie-in-th-sky fantasy. Hopefully this will allow Lotus to focus on what it's good at - making brilliant sports cars - instead of trying to change its reputation through questionable celebrity involvement/endorsement.

MIP1983

134 posts

89 months

[news] 
Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
Shame, I thought the concept Elan looked great.

thewheelman

2,194 posts

57 months

[news] 
Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
W00DY said:
No one in the Universe thought their 5 car plan was going to happen.
Exactly, is was ambitious, but you just knew it wouldn't happen.

sneaky schnell

1,192 posts

89 months

[news] 
Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
MIP1983 said:
Shame, I thought the concept Elan looked great.
If they can survive long enough to bring out the Esprit and make a success of it, you never know, the Elan might come.

The five car line up which was displayed was a joke. They all looked pretty much the same as well.

Lotus is dead. Long live Lotus. smile

Bombjack

430 posts

151 months

[news] 
Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
frosted said:
What exactly did 100 million achieve or is it just funny money, poured in at one end then syphoned at the other ?
Mmm. Embezzlement. Lovely sound to that word. Embezzzzzlement. I've no idea what it means though.

What were we talking about?

LaurasOtherHalf

8,165 posts

80 months

[news] 
Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
rolleyes


G0ldfysh

3,079 posts

141 months

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Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
DanS said:
good lord, the most astonishing bit of news.
+1

rohrl

5,291 posts

29 months

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Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
Colour me unamazed.

Tuna

4,734 posts

168 months

[news] 
Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
2014 for the new Esprit now?

That gives Lotus 24 months for another takeover/financial emergency/new leadership to delay the car 'till 2016 biggrin

Glad to hear the commitment to producing cars and giving the whole brand a bit of stability. It's a pity the new models are going to be further delayed, but if that's the result of giving the engineers the time they want to do the job properly, I'm all for it. There was a time not so long ago when they claimed that they could get a car from drawing board to dealer in 18 months, so I'd be fascinated to know what state the Esprit development programme is actually in.

V8 FOU

1,295 posts

31 months

[news] 
Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
Apparently the in house Esprit V8 is no more - so lord knows what they'll use instead. Chevy? Audi? BMW? Jag? Please no. Please persue the in house engine again, chaps. Remember? 4.6 V8 with 650bhp at 9500 rpm? That's what was promised.

harryowl

1,052 posts

65 months

[news] 
Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
V8 FOU said:
Apparently the in house Esprit V8 is no more - so lord knows what they'll use instead. Chevy? Audi? BMW? Jag? Please no. Please persue the in house engine again, chaps. Remember? 4.6 V8 with 650bhp at 9500 rpm? That's what was promised.
I'd settle for the lexus v10

kambites

39,998 posts

105 months

[news] 
Friday 27th July 2012 quote quote all
harryowl said:
I'd settle for the lexus v10
Can't see Toyota wanting to sell that one, sadly.
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