“Lightweight and simple” is the famous slogan of Lotus, which has built a reputation for producing sports cars by ditching large, powerful engines in favor of smaller mills and stripped-down weights.
It’s a strategy I believe many other carmakers should emulate and has resulted in the sexy Elise and speedy Exige, both powered by Toyota four-cylinder engines capable of 0-60 times in the 4-to-5-second range.
While the cars are impressive, Lotus hasn’t turned a profit since being purchased in 1996 by Proton. Evidently, Proton is fed up and looking to make a drastic change to alter Lotus’ future.
What that means, according to Autocar, is a radical shift from cars like the Elise to upscale models that can compete with Aston Martin, Porsche and Ferrari.
Under the plan, Lotus vehicles will jump from their reasonable pricing of today to a starting price of about $120,000. Autocar says Proton will justify that pricing with:
the use of technology including seven-speed twin clutch transmissions, active aerodynamics, continuously variable dampers, hybrid and range extender systems, heads up displays, and the option of more alternatively-fuelled variants [sic].
In addition to the price increase, Proton’s plan calls for Lotus to sell 8,000 cars per year, up from the 2,000 of today.
But here’s the obvious problem: Planning a road to profitability by simply raising prices and building more cars means the company actually needs to sell those cars. Any kid with a lemonade stand can tell you that raising prices to 10 dollars a glass and pouring 10 extra glasses isn’t going to translate to a hundred extra bucks.
I can’t argue that a new Esprit tantalizes my auto senses, but I’m skeptical that it could effectively compete with the likes of the elite British, German and Italian offerings.
Considering the Toyota connection, maybe if the spectacular V10 from the Lexus LFA was used in the Esprit, I might change my tune…
Lotus has branded itself as a builder of inexpensive, lightweight sports cars. Should it try to become a competitor to Aston Martin, Porsche and Ferrari?