It’s high times at Lotus. Following the Evija’s successful reveal, the firm has confirmed that it will continue readying itself for a major growth spurt by completing building work left unfinished when former boss Dany Bahar departed in 2012. CEO Phil Popham revealed to Automotive News Europe that the brand’s empty “skeleton building won't be a skeleton by the end of this year,” as it seeks to “quickly go beyond” the 1,700-unit output it managed in 2019.
Its aspirations do not stop there either. Popham suggested that Lotus would eventually ‘outgrow’ Hethel’s production capacity of more than 10,000 cars on two shifts, and spoke of the need for something ‘radical’ to happen at its current facility - or potentially somewhere else in the UK.
Popham – who took the helm at Lotus in September 2018, almost exactly a year after Geely bought a majority stake in the firm – said that the company’s soon to grow range would continue to focus on cars within the £50,000 to £100,000 bracket, the £2 million Evija being the obvious exception to the rule. He said that each car would be manufactured in one location because Lotus would not be up for “double tooling”, so rumours that a Lotus SUV will be made at the firm’s upcoming 150,000 capacity Chinese plant suggests that Hethel will have no role in its production.
Exactly which future models will succeed the company’s present sports car line-up – made of the longstanding Elise, Exige and Evora – is still to be confirmed. Although Popham did reveal that the brand “can go right from sports cars to sporty GTs to sporting sedans to crossovers to SUVs”, suggesting that they’re unlikely to all get direct successors.
However, while he confirmed that “electrification is part of [Lotus’s] future” and that future models would each get a fully electric variant, he also stated that the brand’s next new sports car “will have an internal combustion engine” and is due to be shown before the end of next year. A replacement for the Elise? Hope springs eternal.