Lotus Elan Postponed, Company’s Future in Jeopardy

Lotus Elan concept

Lotus Elan concept

Lotus was the big surprise of the 2010 Paris Auto Show, showcasing an onslaught of five concept vehicles designed to move the company upmarket and compete with the likes of Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche.

It was an ambitious move, with the striking Elan concept among the first to usher in the new tide at Lotus. Production was said to begin as early as 2012.

Turns out that ambition was all show and no go, because now we hear news that we’ll have to wait until at least 2016 for Lotus’ two-seat, midengine 450-hp supercharged 4.0-liter V6 Elan. But Lotus fans can at least take some solace in the rebirth of an old favorite:

The Lotus Esprit. But even with that car, Lotus may be digging itself into a big hole.

With the Elise and Exige having already ended production, the only new cars populating Lotus showrooms for the immediate future are the 3.5-liter, 276-hp Evora and 345-hp Evora S. Originally, Lotus planned to shut down the Evora to make room for the Elan. Instead Lotus management has decided to give the Evora a traditional model cycle, meaning five or six more years of variants.

If a second-generation Evora isn’t developed, the Elan could come to fill the gap in the lineup.

Lotus Esprit concept

A new Esprit, though, appears on track for a 2013 return. However that car will carry a six-figure pricetag (some reports say $175,000) and will begin to move the brand away from its lightweight mantra.

I’m not so sure that’s a good idea.

Lotus has a niche that could become extraordinarily popular as gas prices increase. The company’s small and lightweight but engaging and efficient sports cars could be a gold mine with the right business strategy and marketing plan in place.

Instead, Lotus execs seem to want to chase a market the company doesn’t play in. And they’re not even doing that right.

By revealing all of those cars at once at the Paris show, years ahead of actual production, company execs have effectively eliminated any surprise needed to create a buzz at launch. It puts the company in a catch-22: If any of those cars reach the market, they will look dated and expected. If they don’t reach market, Lotus looks unprepared and out-of-touch with auto production realities.

That’s not exactly a sound plan to bring Lotus to greatness.

I would have rather seen a natural evolution of the Elise and Exige, with the possibility of a more powerful, lightweight and much less expensive Esprit. How about you?

-tgriffith

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  1. May 23rd, 2011 at 19:04 | #1

    THIS IS VERY DISAPPOINTING I AM THE CEO OF I.A.M. AUTO BUYING SERVICE AND I WANTED TO REWARD MY SELF WITH AN ELAN.WAITING UNTIL 2016 IS NOT AN OPTION.I HOPE THEY CAN PUT THIS CAR ON THE MARKET BUY 2013 AT THE LATEST OR I MY HAVE CHOOSE ANOTHER EXOTIC.HATE IT FOR THEM….RON D.

  2. jgoods
    May 23rd, 2011 at 12:19 | #2

    I don’t know what these guys are thinking, tg. Why they want to play in the supercar league is beyond me, given the traditions of the firm that you mention and the realities of the marketplace. Kill the Evora, I say, and bring on the Elan–for under $100 grand.

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