Lotus Elise Will Return To US, But Not Before 2020
There have been a lot of cool European cars that the U.S. has missed out on over the years. Sometimes it’s because the automakers assume we wouldn’t be interested, but sometimes it’s simply because the cars can’t meet our much more strict emissions and/or safety regulations. Such was the case with the Lotus Elise, which was such a low volume model that it received a number of exemptions from the NHTSA in order to be sold here. But those exemptions had time limits, and when they expired, Lotus had to pull the car out of the market.
Now it seems that the Elise will returning to American shores, but not for a little while. Lotus has decided that it would be too difficult and expensive to retrofit the necessary safety equipment, which would include smart airbags as well as side airbags. And not only that, it could add as much as 220 pounds to the car’s weight. So we’ll only be getting the Elise once Lotus brings out a new generation of the car, one that is designed from the outset to meet U.S. safety regulations. That means waiting until 2020, but at least it’ll still happen eventually.
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Why it matters
Lotus actually does still sell the Elise in the U.S., but since 2011, it can only be sold as a track car and isn’t street-legal. It’s a shame because Americans loved the Elise when it first went on sale in this country in 2004. In the first 12 months that it was in U.S. dealerships, Lotus sold 2,385 units of the car. That’s not much compared to the volume of similarly-priced Boxsters that Porsche can move in a year, but the truth is that Lotus was selling them just as fast as it could build them, and dealers had long waiting lists. The minimalistic Elise exemplifies everything that fans of Lotus love about the brand, and there will surely once again be long lines at dealers in 2020.
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Source: Automotive News