The Lotus 2020 plan is out. Again.
The message from Jean-Marc Gales, Lotus CEO: Two new cars by 2020. And guess what? There’ll be an SUV as well. Some months after Chinese car company and Volvo owner Geely bought Lotus from Proton, Lotus’ future plans are out in the open.
Well, a bit.
Lotus 2020: Two New Cars
Lotus made its name with sports cars, so by 2020 we’ll have two new cars.
The first will replace either the Evora or Exige. The Evora runs on the newest of Lotus’ platforms while the Exige rides on the Elise’s now 22 year old tried and tested hydroformed aluminium tub.
It seems weird that the Evora would be the first to be replaced (it’s only been around since 2009) but Gales is a smart fellow who seems to know what he’s doing. He had previously said that the Elise replacement would arrive in 2020, but that was before Geely turned up.
Gales told CAR Magazine that the new car won’t feature a hybrid powertrain, with Gales citing the weight of two engines.
Reading between the lines, it’s possible the Elise could get the chop. Gales said that there’s not much money in sports cars – they cost a lot to develop and you can’t sell too many of them. Either way, the Elise’s super-clever, iconic aluminium platform will live on doing what it does best – reasonably cheap to build, super-strong, super-light, easy to work with.
The second new car is the car I reckon Lotus should be doing – a carbon-tubbed track monster. That car can’t replace the Elise unless a financial miracle occurs (or Lotus works out how Alfa Romeo do it so cheaply in the 4C).
This is the car nobody really wants Lotus to make, but it has to. An SUV is the way to the market’s heart and a Lotus SUV should be something very interesting indeed. Gales promised that all future cars will stay true to the Lotus DNA of lightness. He wouldn’t be drawn on engines but did drop a heavy hint about an electric drivetrain being in the mix.
A Lotus SUV will be interesting, if nothing else. The less information I have makes me further intrigued…
Geely, Volvo and Lotus
There is finally new money flowing through Lotus, which also managed a profit in the last financial year. The production line has scored a cash injection and Lotus engineers have been on a parts-bin raid to update electrical and safety systems. We might finally see decent stereos, a sat nav and hopefully some new switchgear.
We won’t be seeing the big Volvo touchscreen (from experience, it’s way too big to fit in a Lotus) and it’s highly unlikely the SUV will be a rebadged XC-something. That’s good news, even though both of those things are excellent in their own right. They’re just not right for Lotus.
While the news isn’t that of a new sports car onslaught – and I’m a bit worried that the Elise may not live on – it’s great to see Geely money is flowing. In my head, Lotus could be almost a McLaren sub-brand, a harder-core drive-to-the-track sports cars that are more user-friendly than, say, an Ariel Atom.
For the full story without my bleatings, check out CAR’s story (which missed the bits about the previous plans).
Peter Anderson is the Editor and founder of the theredline.com.au. He’s been writing about cars for years and finds it difficult to talk about anything else.