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Rumormill: Caterham, Not Lotus, Will Join Alpine Project

Rumormill: Caterham, Not Lotus, Will Join Alpine Project

Okay, so as we all know, the automotive rumormill has a habit of bouncing back and forth before finally resting on the truth. Back in August, we heard a rumor that the Alpine would be built in a joint venture between Renault-Nissan and Caterham. Then just days later, we started exploring the possibility of the Alpine and Infiniti Emerg-E being a Renault-Nissan and Lotus project, given the Emerg-E was already built on the Lotus Evora platform and it would be simpler to build both the Emerg-e and Alpine on the same platform.

Well, it looks as if the Lotus and Nissan talk is done with, as Caterham appears to have swooped in and all but completed a deal with Renault Nissan. Sky News is reporting that Caterham boss, Tony Fernandes, is just about to put ink to paper on a $400 million production deal that will join Caterham and Renault-Nissan at the hip on the Alpine project. The deal would involve a 50-50 split in cost and profits between Renault-Nissan and Caterham.

There is no mention as to whether this will also affect the Emerg-E’s production plans, but chances are that the Emerg-E will remain a Lotus and Renault-Nissan project, since both companies are already so deeply entrenched in the deal.

This also effectively eliminates the chances that the Emerg-E and Renault Alpine will share any significant DNA. It is very doubtful if Lotus would be willing to lend its platform to Caterham for a project that it back-doored from the already struggling sports car builder.

We’ll keep a close eye on this situation because it could boil over into something a little more, as the two rivals compete to snag up a little extra business. The deal is expected to be reviewed on Monday and approved in just a few weeks.

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Lotus Nemesis sets new UK electric land-speed record

Lotus Nemesis sets new UK electric land-speed record

While the folks in France are checking out the new rides at the Paris Auto Show, in the UK, people are keeping themselves busy breaking records. A battery-powered Lotus Elise developed by utility company, Ecotricity, has reached an average speed of 151 mph near York today. Behind the wheel was 21-year-old Nick Ponting, who managed to smash the previous record of 137 mph set by a Bluebird Electric in 2000.

The Nemesis completed two runs along Elvington Airfield over a one mile distance, with Nick Ponting breaking the record on the first set of consecutive runs with an average speed of 148 mph. The electric supercar achieved this record with the use of two electric motors that develop a total of 330 HP. This setup also sprints it from 0 to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds.

Dale Vince OBE, founder of Ecotricity said: "This is brilliant. We built the Nemesis to smash the stereotype of electric cars as something Noddy would drive – slow, boring, not cool – and I think we’ve done exactly that today. Hopefully this will further stimulate debate about the future of transport in Britain and how we’ll be getting around when the world runs out of oil. What we’ve been able to demonstrate is that wind-powered cars are not just feasible, but can be a load of fun."

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More Execs Jump on the Lotus-Suing Bandwagon

More Execs Jump on the Lotus-Suing Bandwagon

In the dust stirred up by Dany Bahar, we managed to miss the fact that DRB-Hicom also dismissed two senior executives from Lotus for “gross misconduct.” One was the 6-year head of legal resources and the other had 17 years in as the head of human resources. These employees are now taking Lotus to an employment tribunal saying that they were dismissed unfairly, were harassed, and had to endure sexual and racial discrimination by the new Lotus parent.

From the report, the two fired executives underwent “intense interrogation sessions” after DRB-Hicom took over and started investigating the actions of Bahar. They are also claiming that the management company is more interested in “Malaysianizing” the company rather than fixing it.

One lawsuit is a random happening, but to get three lawsuits for very similar cases seems like a trend to us. Maybe Bahar isn’t all wrong in this entire thing. The man is certainly at fault for using corporate money like it was his own personal Monopoly bank, but maybe his termination was a little bit less on the “up and up” as we anticipated.

All of this is coming straight on the heels of DRB-Hicom announcing that it is in talks to bring in a foreign partner to help clean up Proton Holdings Bhd, which includes Lotus. We’ll keep an eye on this to see if it may negatively impact the talks that are going on between the Malaysian company and its potential foreign partner.

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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.

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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.

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As Expected, Lotus is up for Sale

As Expected, Lotus is up for Sale

Two weeks ago, we all had an LOL and OMG moment at the expense of Lotus, as a member of the failing company, which we assume to be head honcho himself, Dany Bahar, went berserk on Facebook. We all rant sometimes, but it was truly a high school-style “Wah” fest about who said what and so on.

As we put it after reading said Facebook post, which is still on Lotus’s site, the company that recently inherited Lotus from Proton, DRB-Hicom, would not likely deal with this immaturity too long. It rings especially true when you take into account that Lotus never turned a profit for Proton and currently has more than $316 million in debts.

Well, guess what… Reports have emerged that DRB-Hicom is actively shopping Lotus, and its money sucking black hole, to various Chinese companies. Things are obviously getting serious, as the U.K. government even put a hold on the £10 million (about $16 million) grant that it issued to aid in Lotus’ anticipated expansion out of fear of losing the struggling sports car builder to a Chinese company.

The question that begs to be asked is who in their right mind would purchase Lotus for anything more than a few spare tires and a couple boxes of spark plugs? Of course, at this point DRB-Hicom just might find a better use for some spare tires and spark plugs than it can for Lotus.

There is likely some company in China that will pick up Lotus for just enough to cover its debts, then maybe attempt to revive its name. We will continue to monitor this situation as it unfolds and update you as new information comes down the pipe.

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Top Gear Season 17: Episode 5

Top Gear Season 17: Episode 5

A week after a forgettable fourth episode, Top Gear bounces back with a pretty entertaining penultimate episode that featured a review on the new Jensen Interceptor, a track day for Jeremy Clarkson with the Lotus Exos Type 125 race car, Bob Geldof as the guest celebrity, and a military house destruction challenge.

Comparing it to the previous show, the content for this week was a lot better, but in a weird twist, the show only had 59 minutes on it - the regular slot usually lasts for 62 to 63 minutes - because, apparently, BBC wanted to show the MotoGP race exactly on time.

That became a running gag during the whole episode as Hammond and May kept speeding up Clarkson in order to fill out the entire episode in the 59 minutes they were given.

In the end, the military destruction challenge proved to be the most entertaining segment of the episode - we’d argue that it’s the best one all year, too - filled with child-like shenanigans from the three hosts that make us love the work they’re doing.

Some people might slam them for wasting their precious time on something so inane, but if you were walking in their shoes, you’d be having a ball of time using military vehicles in trying to put down a cement house.

Details on Top Gear Season 17: Episode 5 after the jump

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Hennessey Venom GT readying for Goodwood Festival of Speed

Hennessey Venom GT readying for Goodwood Festival of Speed

The Hennessey Venom GT may not look the part of a Veyron-slayer, but we’ve always come to realize not to judge cars by their outward appearance.

This little monster is the perfect example of what we’re talking about.

The Lotus-derived, American-tuned supercar packs plenty of punch with its 6.2-liter LS9 V8 engine that produces an insane 800 horsepower. And if you just happen to be spending your time at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, you can get a chance to see the Venom in all its glory.

As a preview of the Hennessey madness that will befall all of us come Goodwood, the American tuning company has released a video featuring the Venom GT partaking some test runs to stretch its proverbial legs leading up to the Goodwood Hill Climb in just a few days.

In this video, the Venom GT is being driven by John Heinricy as he tries to corral a traction control-disabled 800-horsepower bullet on a wet track doing some cursory track time ahead of its Goodwood appearance. Enjoy the reel and make sure to mark your calendars for this weekend’s event!

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2011 Lotus Evora Police Car

2011 Lotus Evora Police Car

Time and again, we’ve all been thrust into the same unflattering scenario of driving over the speed limit on a highway without a care in the world - at least until a police car begins to give chase. That’s where we start quaking in our boots. In some instances, we make a break for it, hoping that our trusty steed can outrun the galloping highway patrol car as it tries to keep pace. Unfortunately for the residents of the West Midlands in the UK, trying to outrun the new highway patrol car just became a more difficult task. As a donation by Lotus and presented at the Autosport International Motor Show, the UK police force will be getting a Lotus Evora police car to facilitate the chase..

Oh yes, dear criminals. A 280 horsepower sports car will be stuck in your rear view mirrors until you cry ‘uncle!’ and pull over on the shoulder of the highway. The Evora police car will be given a two-week trial run on a stretch along the West Midlands highway that covers 450 miles, together with a number of major routes, including the M5, M6, and M2 motorways.

So the next time you find yourselves in these areas, you might want to keep watch of the speed limit because you know never know when the Evora police car will jump out of the bushes and give you chase. Most likely, you wouldn’t’ even stand a chance.

Details on the Lotus Evora Police Car after the jump.

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Silverstone is offering discounted Supercar Thrill Package

Silverstone is offering discounted Supercar Thrill Package

Let’s face it; not everybody on this planet is capable of throwing away exorbitant sums of money to buy their choice supercar. It’s unfortunate, yes, but it’s all the sad fact of reality.

The good news is that even if you can’t own a car like a Lamborghini Gallardo, it doesn’t mean that you can’t drive one, even if it means only getting to do it for a few hours.

The Silverstone circuit in the UK is offering this chance to anyone who would want to get behind the wheel of a Lamborghini, Ferrari, Aston Martin, or Lotus through their Supercar Thrill package. The whole thing only costs £99 - $156 – and if you pay for the privilege, you get to spend a few laps with these supercars. Now if you happen to have a particular bias towards Lamborghini, you can purchase the Lamborghini Thrill package for an even cheaper fee of just £60 - $95 – at least until December 19th, 2010.

In addition to the cursory hot laps onboard the cars, customers who avail of either package will get the chance to pick the brains of Silverstone’s racing experts, have your entire day chronicled by a professional photographer, and even get a certificate that you can proudly show off to your friends as proof that you can hang with the big boys of the racing world.

It’s not as good as having you own supercar to play with, but it’s definitely something that’s worth experiencing. After all, it’s not everyday that you can drive the wheels off of a supercar. But with this package, you’re given free reign to do so.

Check out a few videos of the experience after the jump.

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Senna's Winning GP Lotus On Show at MPH

Senna’s Winning GP Lotus On Show at MPH

The car that claimed two Grand Prix wins for legendary triple F1 Champion Ayrton Senna will make an appearance in The Macallan Lounge at this year’s MPH Prestige & Performance Motor Show.

Six of the type 99T chassis were manufactured by Team Lotus for the 1987 season for drivers Senna and teammate Satoru Nakajima. This particular car, however, was exclusively driven by Senna and earned him the top tier of the podium at both the Monaco and Detroit Grands Prix. He raced the car in 11 GPs taking a total of six podiums that season.

The 1.5 liter Honda turbo V6 engine produces a mind-boggling 1,000 horsepower. Acceleration (0-62mph) takes an astonishing 2.5 seconds with a top speed of 205mph. During race time, engines would be replaced at a maximum of 311 miles. Super soft qualifying tires lasted 12.5 miles and harder race tires lasted up to 199 miles. You didn’t actually drive this – more like clung on for dear life. It’s these cars and drivers from the turbo era that made F1 racing so exciting – much of which is gone nowadays.

Ayrton Senna will be forever remembered for his skill both behind the wheel and in the garage, and his sheer tenacity on the circuit. Take a nostalgic trip down memory lane and visit this mad machine at Top Gear Live being held at Earls Court from November 4th-7th and the NEC in Birmingham between November 11th-14th.

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Lotus to host 'Classic Team Lotus Festival this weekend in the UK

Lotus to host ’Classic Team Lotus Festival this weekend in the UK

Lotus race cars of varying shapes and sizes, including the new T127 2010 Formula One car, will be on-hand for a very unique celebration this weekend. Billed as the "Classic Team Lotus Festival", the event will feature enough race cars to overwhelm even the most ardent of racing fans.

Among the cars that will be in attendance - apart from the T127, of course - will be each and every F1 Lotus that’s ever been designed. Count all of them and you’ll reach 35. Even better, most of these 35 cars will also be dusted off and taken out for a track demonstration at the Snetertton circuit in Norfolk, UK.

Leading the festivities will be none other than Hazel Chapman, the widow of Lotus founder Colin Chapman, who will officially open the Lotus racing vault, or as they so fondly call it in that part of the world, the Classic Team Lotus F1 Pavilion. Joining Mrs. Chapman will be the Lotus F1 team comprised of drivers Jarno Trulli, Heikki Kovalainen and Fairuz Fauzy, and team principal Tony Fernandes. Despite the supposed ’ban’ in team testing for Formula One, Lotus F1 was able to get a special dispensation to demonstrate the T127 in front of the attending spectators.

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Supermodel Naomi Campbell ties up with Lotus for special edition 2010 Lotus Evoras to help the people of Haiti

Supermodel Naomi Campbell ties up with Lotus for special edition 2010 Lotus Evoras to help the people of Haiti

A lot of us assume that supermodels are only good for cat-walking, lip-pouting and posing in front of flashing cameras. To be fair, it’s an extremely short-sighted stereotype and if you try to give some time into understanding these women – or in some cases, men – you’ll know that they’re more than just gorgeous faces and beautiful bodies.

Take Naomi Campbell for example. Long regarded as one of the most alluring supermodels in the world, Naomi using her stature and influence as a supermodel for a completely humanitarian cause.

Campbell recently tied-up with Lotus on a special project called “Naomi for Haiti”, a project wherein Lotus will auction off eight special-edition 2010 Lotus Evoras with all the proceeds directly going to relief efforts in the devastated country of Haiti.

Continued after the jump

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Owner picks up first purchased Lotus Evora at the factory

Owner picks up first purchased Lotus Evora at the factory

The first of Lotus’ latest creation, the 2010 Evora, has been delivered to one Matthew Melling of Twickenham in the U.K. and it is a Storm Titanium beauty. Along with the honor of picking the car up at the factory in Norfolk, where the Lotus team has already constructed a five month’s supply of the new hand built mid engine 2+2, Mr. Melling was presented the keys to his new car by the Director of Lotus Cars Limited, Luke Bennett, who had this to say, “It is quite an emotional time to deliver the first Lotus Evora to Mr. Melling. The whole team has worked incredibly hard to design, engineer and produce such a stunning and high performing sports car and [this] is a great feeling… I am sure that each customer who receives their car will be delighted with their purchase.”

The man who gets the title of first garage to house a Lotus Evora, Matthew Melling, said that he “was determined to be the first in the world to get my hands on an Evora so with Stratton Motor Company’s help, I laid down my deposit within seconds of the order books being opened last year. I have read all the press reviews of the Evora and am so excited about getting behind the wheel – what a great start to September!” A happy September indeed considering that he can now enjoy his 2600 pound 280 HP 3.5 Liter V6 powered plaything that can sprint from 0 to 60 MPH in just 5 seconds and reach a top speed of 161 MPH, while bringing three friends along for the ride.

That is a very bold move, going down to a dealership and forking over a hefty chunk of change for something that doesn’t even exist and that you won’t see for quite some time, however there are such objects that make men do crazy things. That’s why they call them dream cars, and the lightweight Lotus Evora super car definitely qualifies in that category.

Press release after the jump.

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Lotus Driving Academy

Lotus Driving Academy

It’s sometimes tough for a car guy to convince his wife that a European vacation is the perfect couple’s getaway. She may have thought Italy was romantic, but not if you spend the whole time in Maranello; and no matter what you tell her, she still doesn’t it believe when you tell her, "Germany is for lovers." So here’s the newest idea: costal England. While she’s shopping for trinkets at little cottage shops on the east coast, you can sneak away to Lotus’ revamped driving school.

Lotus has revamped its test track located at an abandoned U.S. airbase in the town of Hethel. The track 2.25 miles in total with plenty of curves (named after famous racers like Ayrton Senna and Graham Hill) and the obligatory long straightaway. But what’s really cool is the opportunity to learn advanced driving techniques on instructor cars like the Elise S, Elise R and Exige S.

There are four levels of driver training: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum, with the last two taking a full day’s worth of lessons. It ranges in price from £299 to £1299 (about $450 to $1960 at current rates). So, what you’ll learn Lotus’ school depends on the depth of your wallet and how long your wife really believes you are out on a countryside walk.

If this seems like a lot of work for a few lessons, Lotus already has an established driving school for its American arm in Nevada.

Press release after the jump.

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2008 Lotus Clark Type 25 Elise SC

2008 Lotus Clark Type 25 Elise SC

Lotus revealed today a new special edition Elise, as a tribute to Jim Clark, a man who won 25 Grand Prix races and was the first Briton to win the Indianapolis 500.

The Clark Type 25 Elise SC draws upon many styling cues from the Type 25 Formula 1 car that Jim Clark raced to win the World Championship in 1963. The car, with a removable hard top as standard, is finished in British Racing Green with a yellow stripe along the center and features high performance Lotus Sport wheels, finished in an historic black and silver design. The interior is inspired by the Team Lotus Formula 1 cars of the era, with black leather sports seats, trimmed with red leather and all finished off with a fantastic retro wooden gear knob.

The car makes the 0 to 60 mph sprint in just 4.3 seconds and can hit a top speed of 148 mph.

The Clark Type 25 Elise SC is currently only available in the UK and Republic of Ireland and is on sale now. Price: £35,995.

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2008 Union Jack Lotus Exige S

2008 Union Jack Lotus Exige S

No, is not about extreme patriotism in here! This is just the star of the Discovery Channel’s popular series ‘How Do They Do It?’.

With its voluptuous curves and cut-away details, the Exige is one of the most distinctive and unique cars on the road, so it was a perfect choice for the ‘How Do They Do It?’ team who were looking for a challenging case study for their vehicle wrapping feature. ‘Totally Dynamic’ who specialise in the application of vinyl wraps were assigned the project and took 10 hours to transform the iconic Exige for the documentary which follows the project from brief to the finished car making its track debut.

The scheme was developed by Lotus Design to move away from the traditional static Union Jack to that of a flying flag to show the essence of movement and speed. The finished car is a real attention seeker and has amazing track presence.

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