The British brand can finally afford to develop a new sports car

Lotus is planning to launch a completely redesigned Lotus Elise for the 2020 model year. That’s the word from Autocar, which claims that the British automaker can finally afford to fun an all-new version of its lightweight sports car. A third-generation Elise has been on the drawing table since 2010, when Lotus showcased a concept car at the Paris Motor Show, but the company opted to introduce a facelift in 2011 due to financial difficulties. With Jean-Marc Gales at the helm since 2013, Lotus finally has the finances to create a new-generation model.

When Gales took over as CEO back in 2013, Lotus was in a serious financial crisis that almost led to bankruptcy. Thanks to his turnaround plan that focused on improving the existing product range and brought a revised Evora, upgraded version of the Elise and Exige, and a new 3-Eleven, Lotus has reached a safer point where it is financially stable, a first since around 2000.

The new-generation Elise is part of a massive overhaul of the entire Lotus lineup that will include redesigned Exige and Evora models too, but production of new cars won’t commence until 2019, a plan that gives the company enough time to adjust as far as development and production goes. The new Elise will feature a redesigned bonded and extruded aluminum chassis and according to Gales, it will continue to tip the scales at under 1,000 kg (2,200 pounds). More importantly, the Elise is being developed for the U.S. market too, with North American customers to finally get another model besides the Evora.

The Elise is the company’s oldest nameplate in showrooms, having been launched in 1996 as a successor to the Elan. Sold as the Series 1 until to 2001, the Elise received its most comprehensive upgrade 15 years ago. The sports car was once again updated in 2011, but since then Lotus launched a wide range of versions and special-edition cars. A more track-focused variant, the Elise Cup 250, was introduced at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show. The Elise was last offered in the U.S. in 2011.

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Why it matters

Word of a redesigned sports car is always good news, but what makes this report that much more interesting is the fact that Lotus is finally a stable company. The British firm has been struggling to survive for more than a decade and Jean-Marc Gales’ arrival fixed most of its problems in less than three years. I was pretty optimistic about Gales, but I have to admit I did not expect for such a quick turnaround. Granted, things can always get out of hand for such a small firm, but I think it’s safe to say that Lotus can finally look toward the future with a lot more hope. Redesigned versions of the existing lineup should increase sales rather significantly — Lotus expects to deliver 2000 cars in 2017 and 4000 in 2019 — and enable the company to move closer to its greatest plan yet: a sporty SUV. If the British brand gets to the phase where it can afford an SUV and hybrid sports cars, Lotus should no longer be worried about going bankrupt or lagging behind the competition.

Read our full review on the Lotus Elise Cup 250 here.

Source: AutoCar

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