Lotus Plans Evora Roadster And 2-Eleven Successor
Five years after the debacle set into motion by then CEO Dany Bahar, Lotus is finally beginning to find its footing again. Bahar stood in front of a crowd of journalists at the 2010 Paris Motor Show and introduced five new models, all of which ended up as vaporware. Soon after, Bahar was politely asked to leave and Lotus has been pretty stagnant ever since.
Current Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales has been at the helm for about nine months now, and during a recent chat with our friends at Top Gear, he laid out long- and short-term plans for Lotus that offer good reason to be optimistic about the future of the company.
In the short term, and on the heels of the recently unveiled Evora 400, Gales says Lotus will introduce an Evora Roadster, which should be sales booster, in about two years. The Evora’s sophisticated aluminum platform still has plenty of life left in it, and it will also spawn a few new track-oriented derivatives. "The Evora tub meets regulations until 2020 and we will likely stay with aluminum beyond that,” Gales told Top Gear. “It’s similar weight and strength to carbon fiber but one-third of the cost."
Gales says there’s also been a decent amount of demand for a successor to the 2-Eleven track-day car. He promises the new car will be both lighter and more powerful. Using the same 400 horsepower V-6 from the Lotus 400 and weighing less than 2,000 pounds, he promises it will be the fastest road car around the Nürburgring. You definitely can’t accuse the guy of not being ambitious.
Continue reading to learn more about Lotus’ future models.
Why it matters
In addition to new products, Gales also revealed in surprising detail the state in which he found Lotus on his first day of work, and what he’s doing to change the culture at the factory in Hethel, Norfolk.
Where as Bahar was all about positioning Lotus as a Ferrari, Lamborghini and McLaren competitor, Gales is taking a much more pragmatic approach by adhering to the brand’s traditional values of building low-mass, analog sports cars. "Any car we launch in the next two years will be lighter and faster than its predecessor," he told Top Gear. "The cars will be very advanced, but having nothing superfluous. They might lose some of the ride comfort they have now, though an Evora will still be comparable to a Porsche 911 in ride comfort.”
As far as engines, Lotus will be sticking with Toyota power for the foreseeable future. Gales doesn’t see a need for Lotus to develop its own engines and stops just short of saying the in-house V-8 being developed during Bahar’s tenure was a massive waste of resources. One example of the V-8 was built, but never even made it into a working prototype of the Esprit.
Gales says the former regime also had a few perplexing business practices in place. For example, Lotus wasn’t keeping a customer database and there were no dealerships in key markets, including Paris, Berlin, Monaco and Abu Dhabi. He says rectifying those two problems alone have increased sales by over 50 percent, and he expects to move 3,000 cars a year once the Evora 400 enters production.
Gales also found problems with Lotus’ project management, in that there wasn’t any. "I was surprised by the lack of process when I came here. I spent a lot of my time in German companies. It helps your discipline."
After establishing a dedicated project management team, the factory has found new ways to cut costs and reduce errors. This in turn has enabled Lotus to finish cars ahead of schedule. This was something that never happened before, and the time gaps between new models hurt cash flow. The Evora 400 is the first product of this new culture. Not only was it finished ahead of schedule, it will also take 60 fewer hours to build and cost 10 percent less to produce.
Lotus still has a steep road ahead of it. The company hasn’t made a profit in over 20 years, and models will need to be replaced soon. But if Gales can bring some much-needed stability, then Lotus has a pretty good chance of surviving its most recent rough stretch.