Lotus: Dead weight lifted or dead man walking?

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.

Comments (426) Join the discussion on the forum

  • zebedee 16 Jul 2012

    Scuffers said:
    well, Honda would be the obvious answer at the moment, they put all the time/effort/money in, Brawn had an exceptional year out of that, then sold to Merc.

    in a couple of years time, then it would be legitimate to call it a merc as the car will have been clean-sheeted by then.

    Renault on the other had lent GenII the money to buy the team off them, (and technically still hold the loan AFAIK?), Lotus then slapped a badge on it, GenII managed to get the name changed, but it still have zero Lotus input aside a badge.

    Ask yourself this question, what't the name on the employee's contracts/payslips?
    No, ask yourself what the team is called, because that what people watching F1 see. Looking at payslips, good grief.

  • Ozzie Osmond 15 Jul 2012

    IMO Lotus is toast.

    Yet still I hope they aren't....

  • peter450 15 Jul 2012

    Scuffers said:
    get real.

    they have come up with the MP4-12 in less time than Lotus took over the Evora, and yes, you can say they threw money at doing it, but that's kind of missing the point (and also not hugely accurate either).

    McLaren have actually not invented much, what they have done is looked about at what's available and put the best of it together.

    Ricardo have done the engine, what's Lotus's excuse for not doing this kind of work?
    Graziano did the gearbox, once again, what's Lotus's excuse?
    Carbo Tech make the tub, once again, what's Lotus's excuse?
    suspension - Tenneco/Kinetic, yet again, what's lotus's excuse?

    the list goes on....
    You and everyone quoting me subsequently are missing my point (maybe not properly explained by me), the whole project will be a massive failure, if the company goes bust in 5 years time as a result of trying to muscle in on the supercar league on a permanent basis, regardless of how good the car may or may not be

    Yes the car is overall pretty impressive, i said as much but the whole point of Mclarens first car is to get a permanent foothold in the market, so we wont know if the car was a real success until some years down the line, when/if Mclaren become a permanent established player and there cars sell consistantly in the numbers required over the years

    Lotus need to get moving on there Esprit i agree, but so far Mclaren have got the car to market, they have not yet i dont think fully established themselves, which is the point i was making there only at the start of there plans, to become a full time player with a 2 or 3 car lineup

    The Supercar road is littered with grand plans that ended badly, i hope lotus is not one of them, Pagani seem to have done it, i think Mclaren have a good chance to do it too, but there success is not guaranteed, and they have not got there yet, that was the point i was making, not very well if all the responces are to go by wink

    Tuna said:
    Strangely I thought that maybe Toyota's priorities weren't the same as Lotus and they moved towards a bigger capacity engine with lower specific output per litre. The Evora engine uses the same Dual VVT-i setup as Toyota's current GR engine so I'm not sure quite how you think that it's instantly a dinosaur, especially since Lotus aren't exactly running it 'stock'.
    I think there is a newer version of the Evora's engine that uses direct injection, the original yota unit made something like 250hp, while the newer one makes around 310hp, i'm not sure why it was not used, or what the issues were, i suspect money as always

    But if lotus got 280 from the older unit, i expect they could have got 340 from the newer one and probably 380 to 400 Supercharged, and the Evora would have had more of a performance edge to it, i love the style & looks of the car, but for a car with it's style and looks, 280hp was always going to look a little short in 2012, had it launched at the time the M250 was due out, 280 would have been fine it just lotus need to really offer more performance than a porsche competitor car

    One of the Esprits best selling varients, even after it had been in production a while was the SE Turbo with 264hp, because acceleratively speaking it was pretty damn quick for the day, the intercooler was the only real addition over the prev car, but it gave the car a performance edge the prev version lacked

  • Scuffers 15 Jul 2012

    Twincam16 said:
    I asked a Lotus employee about this at the GFoS, and apparently Lotus Engineering has worked on the E20's chassis and suspension.
    love to see the actual evidence of that!

    (ie. that sounds like you were feed a line of complete bullst there, and you brought it.)

  • Twincam16 15 Jul 2012

    Scuffers said:
    Chassis is designated E20, not sure how you translate that to Lotus? (as in type XXX like the 2010 Lotus was the T127)

    and yes, your right, we should be calling it Toleman (Brabham F1 died in 1992 and is totally un-related)
    I asked a Lotus employee about this at the GFoS, and apparently Lotus Engineering has worked on the E20's chassis and suspension.

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