The announcement of one new Lotus would be pretty significant news for a Monday morning; it's hardly like they come around every couple of years. However, today sees more than one new Lotus confirmed - with the current Elise, Exige and Evora to end production in 2021, the Type 131 will succeed them all in one form or another.
'Type 131' is a product code that's been known for a little while, Lotus now asserting that "a new dawn of innovation and legend making" is upon us with a new series of sports cars (presumably based on shared architecture) intended to replace its current lineup beneath the incoming Evija. Though an image of all three cars has been issued alongside the official announcement, there's only so much that can be gleaned from it: they'll all have headlights, that's for certain, and one has an Evija-inspired look. All other suppositions from this picture are more than welcome...
Now, of course, embarking on the renewal of a three-car model range - Lotus reckons 55,000 examples of the Elise, Exige and Evora will have been made by the end of this year - is no small task. More than £100m is being invested into Hethel, bringing with it 250 jobs, as well as the relocation of two Lotus sub-assembly facilities into one combined plant in Norwich.
That's in addition to Lotus Engineering Advanced Technology, which will go online in 2021. It's all part of Lotus's Vision80 strategy, described as a "multi-faceted and long-term business transformation strategy that brings together a wide range of projects and activities to revolutionise Group Lotus", the '80' in reference to Lotus's 80th anniversary, which comes around in 2028.
Phil Popham, Lotus CEO, said: "This year will be hugely significant for Lotus with new facilities coming on stream, a new sports car entering production and new levels of efficiency and quality that only a new car design and factory can deliver. Despite the continuing global challenges, Lotus has emerged from 2020 strong and on track in the delivery of our Vision80 business plan."
It's undeniably exciting stuff for the manufacturer, and anyone partial to their output (which is all of us). It's not quite done with the old favourites just yet, though, with a "full programme of activities" for all three of Elise, Evora and Exige on the cards for 2021. "Reflecting on the legacy," is the way Lotus puts it (so expect hat-tipping runout editions aplenty) and will kick-off with the Elise.
As for the Type 131 successor, Lotus is saying no more for the moment other than prototype production will get underway this year, and will eventually support more job creation as production volumes increase over time. Although it does take the time to assure us that previous models' 'all-important DNA' is being preserved, and that the driver remains at the heart of everything it does.
Matt Windle, Lotus' Executive Director, Engineering, said: "Our renowned team of engineers, designers and technicians who are working on the new cars are acutely aware of the legacy from the Elise, Exige and Evora. Indeed, many were around when Elise was being developed. Members of our team, old and new, are now busy blending the learnings of the past with the innovations of today and tomorrow, to ensure our future cars truly move the game on but remain firmly committed to Lotus values."
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