Lotus Cool Fast Cars

Could Lotus Have a Hand in the Manufacturing of the Emerg-E and Alpine?

Could Lotus Have a Hand in the Manufacturing of the Emerg-E and Alpine?

When the Emerg-E popped onto the scene during the Geneva Auto Show, us automotive folk were amazed at the technology and potential behind this car. We were also amazed to see a rather familiar platform looking back at us, as the Emerg-E is built on the same platform as the Lotus Evora.

Lotus is no stranger to lending out its platforms and bodies for various performance applications (see: Hennessey Venom GT), but it has never gotten into the actual building phase of these cars. Infiniti has yet to confirm that the Emerg-E for production, but its sister company, Renault, has already announced that the Alpine will go into production, in one form or another.

Since Renault has also made it clear that the Alpine will not be much like its concept and the Emerg-E is already based on a Lotus concept, why not save a little scratch and build both models on the same platform? There is really no reason not to and there is absolutely no way that Lotus would refuse this deal, as it sorely needs a little extra money these days.

Sure, the production level may be low and the income may be limited, but it would at least help put Lotus back into the sports car conversation. In addition to getting its foot back into the sports car door, with the Evora and Emerg-E being range-extended electric vehicles, this could carve Lotus a real nice and potentially profitable niche.

We’ll have to wait and see what comes of this, but the connection is already there, it just needs a little push in the right direction.

view all
view all
view all
Read more
Could Volkswagen AG's Next Victim be Lotus?

Could Volkswagen AG’s Next Victim be Lotus?

DRB-Hicom and Lotus have officially shut down the five-year plan that Dany Bahar placed the compact sports car company on shortly before he was canned. In fact, DRB-Hicom flat out called the plan unrealistic and we agree. Now with Lotus hanging around with no real future in sight, could DRB-Hicom be ready to offload Proton and Lotus altogether?

If it is ready to cut the money pits named Proton and Lotus loose, there is a suitor ready and waiting, according to a report by Reuters. Volkswagen, the recent PAC-Man of the automotive world, tried once to snatch up Proton, but failed, and now it looks as if it is ready to try again for at least partial control.

Ideally, for VW, DRB would let go of controlling stake in both companies and sell them to VW on the cheap, so that the magical Volkswagen wand can heal Lotus and Proton, much like it has with Audi. The connection is already there, as VW uses a DRB-Hicom facility to manufacture the Passat, so starting up the conversation of a buyout is as easy as pressing a speed-dial button on a cellphone.

Volkswagen, of course, isn’t saying a word about all of this and DRB-Hicom has been insisting that it is not selling Lotus or Proton. As we all know, car manufacturers will deny any type of news about selling companies or merging until they absolutely cannot deny it anymore, so we take all of this denying with a great big grain of Sodium Chloride.

We’ll keep you updated if anything else comes up on this front.

view all
Read more
Lotus Scraps Almost All of Bahar's New Model Plans

Lotus Scraps Almost All of Bahar’s New Model Plans

When Lotus chose to pull out of the 2012 Paris Motor Show, the same show that the struggling car company released five new concepts at two years ago, we had a sneaking suspicion that this was the calm before the model-trimming storm. It looks as if our suspicions were true, as according to reports, Lotus has cut out all of Bahar’s brainchildren, with a possible exception being the revamped Espirit.

As we always say, sports car lovers are a fickle bunch. They know what they like and do not deal well with changes. Ferrari and Lamborghini lovers want fat sports cars with even fatter engines, whereas Lotus lovers want svelte and nimble machines that they can toss around at will. The models that Lotus has axed were very fat, by Lotus standard, and were not warmly received by enthusiasts.

Also scrapped in the process was the crazy notion that Lotus would produce its own engines for these new models. If the consistent lapping of Lotus-powered vehicles in INDYCAR isn’t enough of a deterrent for Lotus building their own engines, the sheer cost of the project is.

This is all clearly a cost-controlling measure by DRB-Hicom and Lotus to try and save the failing company, but it does have a bit of the undercoating of a jab to Bahar’s ribs. Regardless of the possible shot at Bahar’s ego, this is just one of the many necessary evils that Lotus has to go through to get back to being a profitable business.

Another necessary evil is the fact that Lotus will have to lay off 50 contractors hired to work on these new projects, which were part of Bahar’s “Five-Year Plan.”

Lotus and DRB-Hicom have submitted a new business plan to their creditors in hopes of getting some leeway in their debts and maybe freeing up some loan money to help inject some life into Lotus. We certainly hope to see Lotus back near the top of the boutique automaker list and we’ll keep a keen eye on this situation with many more updates likely coming your way.

view all
Read more
DRB-Hicom Receives and Declines a Bid for Lotus

DRB-Hicom Receives and Declines a Bid for Lotus

It was not announced at the time, but a report has surfaced that DRB-Hicom did receive an offer for faltering sports car company, Lotus. To buy a car company, even a money pit like Lotus, it takes millions of dollars, but the company that bid on Lotus didn’t offer anything near that. The bid was for all of ₤1. No, that’s not a typo... Just a single pound.

According to reports, DRB-Hicom, who inherited Lotus when it purchased Proton, will continue to attempt breathing life into the dying car company. The first necessary act of business, firing the cancer that is Dany Bahar, is already complete, so now it’s just a matter of getting the company back on track and making a few dollars here and there.

With Lotus pulling out of the 2012 Paris Motor Show, we have a feeling that a big-time change is afoot. With Bahar gone, DRB-Hicom can attempt to cut off the company’s plans to build supercars and revert back to the lightweight sports cars that made it famous in the first place.

We’ll see what DRB-Hicom has in store for Lotus in the coming years, but we certainly hope to see good things coming. The good thing is that DRB-Hicom can always hang its hat on the fact that someone is actually willing to pay for Lotus, even if it is just a single pound...

Read more

2013 Lotus Evora 414E Hybrid

Lotus hasn’t seen a great share of luck in recent years, but in the past few weeks, its luck has taken a slight turn for the better. First came INDYCAR’s approval of desired changes to its IRL engines. Now Lotus is now extending this run of decent luck a little more by announcing that its running prototype for the Evopra 414E hybrid is ahead of schedule and ready for dynamic testing.

Lotus first unveiled the prototype at Geneva in 2010, but it was just that, a prototype. It had no engine or motor driving it; it was essentially just a shell. No one in the automotive world expected anything from Lotus in the next year or so, as it seeks a new CEO, fights a rumored lawsuit from its former CEO, and attempts to right this sinking shop.

It looks like we were all wrong, as Lotus just sent out a press release detailing all of the Evora 414E’s main specifications. So, we did what we do best and used our speculative abilities to put together a review for you to use to make an educated shopping decision, if you are lucky enough to be in the market for this type of car.

Click past the jump to read our full review.

view all
Read more
1962 - 1995 Lotus Elan

1962 - 1995 Lotus Elan

The Lotus Elan was the true mother of all sports cars. You see, a true sports car does not require extreme power or a big engine with tons of cylinders pounding away – it doesn’t hurt though. A true sports car is about precision handling, peppy acceleration, and the ability for the driver to feel like he is in control of what’s going on.

The Elan is all of that wrapped up in a sexy looking, 2-seat roadster package. Well, this old girl recently had her 50th birthday and she is looking just as stunning as she did the day she rolled off of the production line back in 1962.

The Elan was a driver’s car and spawned many other spin-offs and reproductions, like the Alfa Romeo 124 Spider, BMW Z3/4, and most notably, the Mazda MX-5 Miata. The original Elan had a fairly successful run, lasting 13 years before getting the axe. In 1989, Lotus chose to resurrect the Elan, with the Elan M100. While the M100 was a mechanical success, it was not nearly as popular as the original rendition and it lasted just seven years.

In 2010, Lotus introduced us to a new version of the Elan that it anticipated seeing showrooms in 2013, but that release date was later adjusted to 2017. With the recent restructuring going on at Lotus, we anticipate seeing this date getting adjusted once again.

So, how can we give the Elan a special birthday this year? Well, by giving her a full historic review, of course.

Click past the jump to read our complete historical review on the 50-year-young Lotus Elan.

view all
Read more
Managing Director of Caterham Resigns, Could a Return to Lotus be in the Cards?

Managing Director of Caterham Resigns, Could a Return to Lotus be in the Cards?

There are two things that Caterham shares with Lotus. The first is that they both are U.K.-based companies and the second is that they both had Ansar Ali as an executive in the company. Short of that, the two companies have stark differences. The biggest difference being that Caterham stayed focused on its racecar-building division, then slowly started working itself toward street cars, thus keeping it profitable. Lotus, on the other end of the spectrum, has been trigger happy lately and has lost millions of dollars.

Well, the man given a lion’s share of the credit for Caterhams’s success, Ansar Ali, has stepped down from his post as Managing Director of the successful company. The resignation is certainly not forced, as Caterham chairman, Tony Fernandes, poured a heavy helping of praise over top of Ali as he departed and this can only point to the fact that Ali is leaving for another job, a la the former Audi CEO bolting for Infiniti.

On paper, the destination is obviously Lotus. Do the math, it is a struggling company, much like Caterham was prior to Ali taking the reins, it lacks a CEO since Dany Bahar’s termination, and there is already a history between Ali and Lotus. Add in the fact that Ali is already in the U.K., where Lotus is based, and you come up with a perfect match.

If Ali is heading to Lotus, don’t expect an immediate announcement, especially given the rumors of Bahar suing Lotus. Lotus would be wise to bring Ali on as a special consultant for a few months until the Bahar storm settles down.

We’ll keep an eye on where Ali lands and let you know as soon as we hear anything.

view all
Read more
Rumors: Dany Bahar Suing Lotus

Rumors: Dany Bahar Suing Lotus

See, we told you this saga wasn’t over just yet… So when Lotus chose to fire Dany Bahar after an investigation that apparently revealed that he had used Lotus funds to inappropriately deck out his rental homes that were already paid for by Lotus, Dany decided that was a prime opportunity to milk even more money from the spiraling sports car builder, in the form of a wrongful termination lawsuit.

That’s right; according to a report from MSN U.K., the former head of Lotus has denied the allegations that he incorrectly used funds and is suing the British automaker. So not only did he collect £1.2 million ($1.48 million) per year as his company spiraled down the drain, but now he wants a little bit more money from Lotus, who needs to save every dime it can if it hopes to ever recover.

Here’s TopSpeed’s own solution to the problem. Hire the guy back, give him his old job, and have him sign a non-disclosure form that also waives his right to sue for the previous termination. Next, call him into a board meeting and fire him for the overall performance of Lotus in his three years as its head.

If I perform poorly at work and cost my company millions of dollars, I get fired. My boss wouldn’t have to dig up some weird financial slight on my behalf. Just call me into his office, tell me that I was not performing, and send me on my merry old way. That is it… Then again, maybe this whole investigation was to avoid having to pay a severance package to Bahar, which would likely be several million dollars, and that is the fuel powering this alleged lawsuit.

As expected, Lotus and Bahar are not available to confirm or deny whether this lawsuit is actually happening or not, which points to the likelihood that it is happening.

Read more

As Expected, Lotus Fires Dany Bahar

Well, you can just color us shocked, as Lotus chose to fire suspended CEO, Dany Bahar (it’s sarcasm, folks). We already anticipated new Lotus owner, DRB-Hicom to part ways with the unsuccessful and oft-newsworthy CEO from the beginning, but his “temporary suspension” pending an investigation sealed the deal. The word “suspension” in the corporate world is simply shorthand for “we are getting you out of the office so we can dig up some dirt to fire you before you get a chance to cover your tracks.”

To boot, the investigation that Bahar is under is pretty serious business, as he allegedly used Lotus’s money to fund renovations on his rental properties. After Lotus caught on and stopped the flow of money, the builders were stuck with a pretty hefty unpaid building bill. So that’s a double whammy for Mr. Bahar that just might land him in a court room.

We are sure this is far from the last thing we hear from Bahar, though we are certain he won’t find his way into the CEO role of another company. We’ll keep you updated on his potential legal issues as more information comes around. Until then, it looks as if he is just going to be joining former Mercedes-Benz CEO, Ernst Lieb, in the unemployment line.

Where’s Donald Trump with his famous “You’re Fired” line when you need him?

In all seriousness, we wish the best for the British automaker, but it needed Bahar out of the CEO role to get back to what it once was. Here’s to a fresh start for Lotus and we are hoping DRB-Hicom selects the perfect candidate for the job.

view all
Read more
More Woes for Suspended Lotus Boss, Dany Bahar

More Woes for Suspended Lotus Boss, Dany Bahar

Okay, let’s do the math on Dany Bahar, the suspended CEO for Lotus, and see where we stand so far. First, he is generally regarded as an overall jackass by a large number of automotive media members. Secondly, he decided to rant on Facebook whining about us media folk speculating on the sale of Lotus and the failing company’s overall health. Lastly, he was “temporarily suspended” while an investigation for undisclosed reasons goes on.

The latter of these issues we thought was mostly tied into his general character combined with his child-like Facebook post. New details have come to the front that show his suspension is for far worse reasons than just a flame-post on a social media board. It turns out that Lotus has been footing the bill for Bahar to rent two houses, which is not uncommon for a CEO, but what is uncommon is a £375,000 ($589,000) builder’s bill for renovations to said rental house that was paid by Lotus.

Obviously Lotus shut off that leaky water valve at one point, leaving £92,000 ($144,450) of a builder’s bill unpaid, resulting in Bahar being taken to High Court, according to reports. So now this suspended CEO may be in for a little more than just jabs from us media folk as he may be in for some criminal charges, if he is found to have defrauded Lotus.

Then again, Bahar collecting his minimal pay package of £1.2 million ($1.48 million) after sending Lotus further into ruins since he took over in 2009 is fraud enough for us. So it looks like we are not quite done talking about Bahar yet and he will likely not go away quietly, given his loudmouth reputation. We will let you know the second we know more about this ongoing story.

view all
view all
Read more
2012 Grand Prix of Monaco is in the books

2012 Grand Prix of Monaco is in the books

As always, the Grand Prix of Monaco provided a fairly spectacular showing, likely one of the few in this year’s F1 series. As most would expect, Circuit de Monaco lap-time record holder and five-time winner, Michael Schumacher took the pole position, but officials forced him back five grid positions after he caused a collision during qualifying. With the technical nature of Monaco, that pole position is very important and Schumacher’s penalty was an ominous sign that this would not be a good race, as he retired due to fuel issues 63 laps in.

Schumacher’s penalty propelled Red Bull’s Mark Webber into the pole position. Webber held onto that pole position, despite a lead change during a pit stop, and took home the checkered flag on a rain-coated Circuit de Monaco. As we said in our preview of the 2012 Grand Prix of Monaco, this race had some serious overall points influence, as the leaders were only separated by a few points each.

This victory for Webber places propels him up to a second place tie with Sebastian Vettel at 73 points and puts Fernando Alonso, who finished third, in the points lead at 76. An impressive run by Nico Rosberg placed him in second, just behind Webber, proving that his wide margin of victory in China was not just a one-time deal. This superb finish by Rosberg jumps him up two slots to fifth place overall.

From the looks of it, this season is shaping up to be a rather close points race with a few new faces near the top. Unfortunately, the leader board, for the most part, looks identical to the 2011 and 2010 seasons. The lack of parody in F1 has really been its Achilles heel in recent history. An overall points victory by Nico Rosberg would certainly be a push in the right direction for F1, so we’ll keep a close eye on his performance.

Click past the jump to see the complete placement board for the 2012 Grand Prix of Monaco and the overall points standings.

Read more
DRB-HICOM Suspends Lotus CEO Dany Bahar

DRB-HICOM Suspends Lotus CEO Dany Bahar

Typically the CEOs of big companies stay in the background and just keep the corporate wheels turning. Most CEOs also know that it is typically not a good thing when your name ends up in the papers just as often, if not more often, than the brand you are heading up. Well, Lotus CEO Dany Bahar must have a tough time comprehending the fact that no new is good news for a CEO.

It came to a head whenever DRB-HICOM purchased Proton, Lotus’s parent company, and inherited the Lotus money vacuum in the process. The media then took to speculating about the status of Lotus, given its new owner, and Bahar went on a teenage girl-like rampage via the worst possible medium, Facebook. That post still remains on the company’s page too.

At that point, we started speculating that Bahar’s time with Lotus may be limited, as DRB-HICOM really has no need for a moody CEO that can’t keep his company’s head above water. Apparently, we had our crystal ball working that day, as DRB-HICOM has announced that Bahar has been “temporarily suspended” following an operational review and a full investigation of Bahar’s actions will take place during his suspension. Several executives from DRB-HICOM will take Bahar’s place during his absence.

Well, I have been in the corporate world long enough to know that a “temporary suspension” during an “investigation” typically spell out “you’re fired once we find some dirt.” Rarely does a suspended employee ever return to their original position and few return at all, so we have a feeling that this will ultimately put an end to the drama of Dany Bahar. Looks like TopSpeed’s “Lotus” section is going to be dry for a while… At least until we get word that Dany is now managing a local McDonalds.

view all
view all
Read more