2021 was already set to be a big year for Lotus, what with the Elise anniversary and the Evija's imminent arrival. Now it's set to be even more significant, with CEO Phil Popham confirming that a new sports car will be shown in the summer, ahead of production in 2022.
Mentioned in an interview with Automotive News, this new Lotus isn't the product of the Alpine collaboration; but rather a new combustion-engined model that sounds like it will effectively replace the entire ageing line up, from Elise to Evora. Popham confirmed in the interview that the new car would be offered "in versions ranging from £55,000 to £105,000", which covers pretty much everything from Alpine A110 to Porsche 911, and is therefore quite a brief to fulfil.
Details aren't any more specific than that for the moment, although usability - so often the Lotus pitfall - was said to be a focus of development. It'll also assist with sales in the US, Lotus's second-biggest market ahead of Germany (the UK is third).
As Popham says in the interview: "To be successful in the sports car market you have to be successful in the US." Hard to argue with that. As such the reworked platform is said to make getting in and out easier, as well as featuring entirely new electrical architecture for increased connectivity. Perhaps not a sentence you would expect to read in relation to a Lotus, but the facts speak for themselves: Lotus sales were up 4.4 per cent in 2020, to 1,378 units. Porsche sold 1,063 718 Caymans and Boxster last July alone. In Europe.
The need for a car to sell in greater numbers is obvious, as Lotus knows only too well. And the foundations are in place already: today the firm announced that the first chassis has been completed at the new facility on Hurricane Way in Norwich. This is the plant with the capacity to build "several thousand chassis per year", says Lotus; with only 1,500 said to be reserved for the Elise, Evora and Exige for 2021, that implies the new car will be in production there pretty soon. Indeed, Lotus's release states the factory has had tooling upgraded "in readiness for a new range of Lotus sports cars to be launched in the coming years." Which is exciting.
After all, it's not every day (or every year, even) that a new Lotus is confirmed by the CEO. Especially not when Lotus actually appears in the position to pull it off, backed as it is now by Geely and endowed with a swanky new manufacturing plant. With this news as well as the Alpine announcement last week, Lotus is already off to a flying start in 2021 - what comes next?
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