RE: Elise USA

Wednesday 31st December 2003

Elise USA

Just launched - the Federal Elise!


Tuesday December 30th was the second Press Day of the 2004 Los Angeles Auto Show and by 9:30 the tension in the Lotus Booth was palpable. You could sense the sheer energy of anticipation from the staff manning the presentation.

Arnie Johnson, thirty years with Lotus in the United States, now President and CEO of Lotus Cars USA, took questions from the Senior Editors of large American car Magazines.

Tony Shute, eighteen years with Lotus, two as Head of Product Development and Manager of the first Elise Project stood hands clasped tightly as he reviewed every detail on each car.

Also there was Nick Adams. Another Lotus veteran with eighteen years experience, Nick is Vehicle Development Manager - the man who ordered that durability tests be run, and run again, and run again, because failure was unacceptable. He's a man with huge enthusiasm and strong opinions on what was needed for the Elise world car. He was given the opportunity to examine each and every component: "How heavy is it?" "How much does it cost?" "How do I get rid of it?”  Nick was ready, willing, eager to dive into highly specific technical questions with the press on how this part or that worked.

Also on hand was Steven Crijns, Designer of the Series Two Elise - the man who, working with Russell Carr, took the results of the wind tunnel testing and reshaped the car.

UK PR Manager Alastair Florance was one of the team from the UK. The Lotus PR Manager is a quiet self-effacing man but was very willing and able to field all questions put to him about the project.

On the technical side, Dave Simkin, a Field Service Engineer was there. He'll have the job of making sure that dealers are up to speed with the car and are providing the necessary back up to the lucky owners.

Coordinating the after sales side of the launch is Clyde Shepard. Based in Georgia it will be his job to ensure that spares are available to dealers and owners.

The roll call of attendees was completed by the godfather of the Federal Elise Project - Roger Becker, Senior Consultant – Vehicle Engineering, with Lotus since 1966. He brought in and pounded himself doing international consultancy work that meant cold hard cash was available to fund projects like the Federal Elise.

By the time Mark O’Shaunessy, Director of Public Relations for Lotus Cars USA began to make the official launch several hundred of the press were bunched more than four deep and were unusually hushed. Performance through adding lightness, the Lotus Mantra was clearly expressed. And in spite of the perfect storm caused by the radical drop in the value of the dollar, the car will be priced, well equipped, at $39,985.

You could hear the rapt audience whispering “wow,” “hot car, this thing is going to sell.” There was a very strong sense to the crowd of the American phenomenon of cheering for the underdog,  particularly when they have hit a home run.

The years of waiting were over. No one had to state it, there was no more need for promises that might or might not be kept. The Elise was now on US soil. The press was almost ready to anoint it the next revolution in the American Sports Car Market as it did with the arrival of the Elan in early 1960s. The bets were being hedged. In the last few years Lotus has worked diligently to produce cars that perform incredibly, delightfully and don’t break. Never before have they brought to the US a vehicle so thoroughly tested, and tested again, and tested again, to ensure that nothing goes wrong. But this is still an almost handmade car, and not everything will go right, for every owner, every time.

Except for Lotus no one has ever come to the market before with a simple light weight machine that could meet and exceed current supercar performance standards at a price that would appeal to a the average middle-to-upper end sports car buyer. The very fact that Lotus has met their goal is an enormous achievement. That anyone who drives the car walks away with an ear to ear grin that can last the entire day is what will truly sell this handsome little car. Congratulations Lotus, job well done.

Reporting by Jon Rosner. Pictures courtesy Jon & Alan Perry

Author
Discussion

jpf

Original Poster:

1,312 posts

279 months

Wednesday 31st December 2003
quotequote all
Congrats to Lotus. I will check out the Elise at the Chicago Auto Show and hope it will be a great daily driver--plus fun at Elkhart Lake!

Englishman in LA

291 posts

276 months

Thursday 1st January 2004
quotequote all
I'll be there on Friday! can't wait for this car.

Steve

zumbruk

7,848 posts

263 months

Thursday 1st January 2004
quotequote all
Are you reading this, Peter Wheeler?

(Good luck to Lotus, nonetheless, despite not being a particular fan of their products.)

kamal996

4,230 posts

247 months

Thursday 1st January 2004
quotequote all
I think Lotus just struck gold!

xsaravtr

801 posts

265 months

Thursday 1st January 2004
quotequote all
Like the new wheels on the read and yellow cars... Available in the uk u reckon?

dejoux

772 posts

286 months

Thursday 1st January 2004
quotequote all
I really hope its successful but Im always skeptical about the american market.

I hope it does well enough Lotus brings back the M250 and doesn't instead develop a diesel station wagon ala jaguar

Is it just me or did that article say basically nothing, mentioned a few people Id never heard of and told you the price but no specs no changes from the rest of the world etc

jr@lotustrek.com

3 posts

271 months

Friday 2nd January 2004
quotequote all
I probably should have included all the specs.
on the car in the article. They are posted on the Golden Gate Lotus Website @ gglotus.org
Jon

robcollingridge

622 posts

286 months

Friday 2nd January 2004
quotequote all
You are kidding right! These are the people at the core of the development of the Elise. Nick Adams is THE man for anything Elise and has pretty much kept the Lotus Owners Club going with his involvement. If you were a member you could meet them all at the monthly meetings (in the UK).

You should get out more!

Rob Collingridge
www.elises.co.uk

86turbo

209 posts

258 months

Friday 2nd January 2004
quotequote all
I hope to see the Elise at the LA auto show next week... Been waiting to see one for too many years now

dejoux

772 posts

286 months

Friday 2nd January 2004
quotequote all
Rob Im guessing that reply was aimed at me.

Elises are not a car that I know a huge amount about as far as who developed them.

They are available here but theyre certainly not as common as in the UK. Ive only ever seen one.

One day Ill hopefully own one then ill be able to answer those questions.

Cheers
Paul

Alex

9,975 posts

287 months

Friday 2nd January 2004
quotequote all
But will Americans pay $40k for a minimalist car in a country where you can buy a Mustang V8 for $20k?

colinhare

8 posts

247 months

Friday 2nd January 2004
quotequote all
The Mustang may have a V8 but to call it a sports car is a bit like calling St Bernard a Greyhound. People who enjoy the sound of a big V8 will buy mustangs, vetts and dodge pickup trucks.... those who enjoy driving pleasure will be a little more selective.

Alex

9,975 posts

287 months

Friday 2nd January 2004
quotequote all
I wasn't comparing the cars, just what you can get for your money.

86turbo

209 posts

258 months

Friday 2nd January 2004
quotequote all
I would most people wouldn't though. I think there are enough people like me though, that they will sell quite a few. The Elise doesn't even compete with the Mustang. I think it will appeal more to people who want a track car, maybe a Caterham, but something that they can drive every day on the street. Not everyone here wants a gas guzzling dinosaur that can't turn.
Dan

ciuffa.m

8 posts

254 months

Friday 2nd January 2004
quotequote all
Alex said:
But will Americans pay $40k for a minimalist car in a country where you can buy a Mustang V8 for $20k?


S40.000 today are € 32.000.
So why i've to pay € 46.000 to have a 111S in Italy/europe now?
I want the 190bhp for 32.000 euro!!!!!!

colinhare

8 posts

247 months

Saturday 3rd January 2004
quotequote all
40K is a BARGAIN. Look at what you're getting. Probably the best handling car in the world. Probably the most advanced engine technology in the world. All wrapped up in a drop dead gorg body (Just expand those attached pictures showing the red, yellow and green examples.. simply beautiful in every respect). What's more, you're getting a car that will always look special and exclusive because so few will be brought into the country. Hell you're even getting a key ring badge that'll turn girls to Jell-O at the bar. Please credit us Americans with a little more class. Sure some will want more cylinders and more heavy chromed metal to hunk around but those guys are more likely to customize a truck rather than enter the sports car market. You have the same type in every counrty.

Remember that the market is big out here and running a car that offers so much office bragging power will be irresistible to many of the LA rich kid type. Even the entry / exit athletics could be made to play to the cars advantage. What other car says 'not for granddad’s' than the Elise?

ErnestM

11,621 posts

270 months

Saturday 3rd January 2004
quotequote all
Honda (S2000), BMW (Z4), Porsche (Boxtah) and to a certain extent Toyota (MR2 Spyder) have the most to fear from this car's release. It will be stealing their customers on a wholesale basis...

...Plus, Lotus did a very smart thing letting NFS:HP2 include an Elise in the video game. Now every kid that plays the game will want one...

ErnestM

tvrrdabest

2 posts

246 months

Saturday 3rd January 2004
quotequote all
No offence, but the Americans are Terrible at making cars, yet most of them are prepared to withstand the awfulness of their own cars, just to be patriotic. This is good to see that they are willing to try out British cars, hopefully they will give TVR a go, then they can see what a proper car is. If the Dodge Viper, the Mustang and the Corvette is the best they can offer, Britain have come to the rescue.

86turbo

209 posts

258 months

Saturday 3rd January 2004
quotequote all
Actually, most Americans can't even stand American cars. Most people gave up being patriotic and bought Hondas and BMWs. It seems to be mostly the over fifty crowd who never cared about driving anyways who keeps the American auto industry alive. Lotus is back with a vengeance... now lets hear from TVR!
Dan

kylie

4,391 posts

260 months

Saturday 3rd January 2004
quotequote all
tvrrdabest said:
Americans are Terrible at making cars, yet most of them are prepared to withstand the awfulness of their own cars


Sorry don't agree with such harsh comments! Everyone has a different perception of what they call great well made cars. Have you driven and looked underneath a few American cars have you??? Americans are famous for building some high spec muscle cars for race or just plain driving. Not to mention Hot Rods being sold in big numbers to the Japanese where every single bolt is shiny and containing race spec parts unlike my rather tired everything faulty British made Esprit made with cheap parts out of a bargin bin, that I am constantly uprating all the time!