Lotus CEO Admits SUV Possibility
With Dany Bahar no longer at the helm of troubled sports car specialist Lotus, you would think that the brand’s foray into making more mainstream vehicles would have ended. Unfortunately, the situation may be far from it, if Group Lotus’s new chief Jean-Marc Gales is to be believed. Speaking with Reuters at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, Gales admitted that Lotus may need to also jump on the crossover/SUV bandwagon if it plans to survive the upcoming years.
While the news is likely upsetting, to say the least, to die-hard Lotus fans, Gales promises that Lotus will not just do another plain crossover but "reinvent the category," quickly explaining himself: "We’d do an SUV that is very light, very fast on the track and has outstanding handling," he told the news agency. "I’m a bit torn between an SUV and a four-door sports car - but in the end I can see that the SUV has the bigger market."
On the plus side, despite what the quote may suggest, Jean-Marc Gales is actually an old-school car guy who seems to understand the Lotus philosophy better than his predecessor. "We had an electronically opening glove box, which in a sports car is worse than useless. I don’t know who put that in, but I took it out." he said at Geneva. In my book, this is a perfect example of his Colin Chapman-like mindset, so hopefully the crossover Lotus will adhere to the "simplify, then add lightness" principle as well, as that would indeed revolutionize the niche.
Continue reading to learn more about Lotus’ future SUV.
Why it matters
At first glance, almost any Lotus aficionado would tell you that a SUV is the worst of ideas for a Lotus vehicle. But while almost every other sports and/or luxury carmaker has had profits on the rise, Lotus lost about $108 million in 2014, with global sales of only around 2,000 cars.Here in the U.S., where many of its fans reside, Lotus only sells the Evora as a street-legal vehicle, and it won’t even offer a 2015 version of that model until the 2016 facelift hits shorooms at the end of the year.
What I mean is that Lotus desperately needs a high-seller in its lineup, and with the crossover market looking like the best market to join, so be it. Many frowned at the idea of a Porsche SUV in the early 2000s, but the top-seling Cayenne and Macan allow the Stuttgart carmaker to still develop bonkers models like the 918 Spyder, Cayman GT4 and 911 GT3 RS. If Lotus makes a crossover/SUV as good as it promises, it may actually save the company.
You can read our speculative review of the Lotus SUV here.