Report: Lotus hiring 100 after securing £100m investment

Filed under: Hirings/Firings/Layoffs, Lotus, Earnings/Financials

Lotus Badge

Lotus is getting a shot in the arm courtesy of corporate parent DRB-Hicom, which has announced a 100-million pound ($152.3M USD at today’s rates) investment in the Hethel, UK-based manufacturer. The troubled brand was also in the news last week, with DRB announcing a new, three-year plan that would see variants of existing models introduced.

The money will create 100 new jobs in Hethel, with 45 new engineers, 40 manufacturing operatives and 18 university grads joining the team. Lotus has already seen an uptick in sales this year, according to a Norfolk-based news site, with 40 to 45 cars being produced per week and 722 road cars and 45 race cars sold between January and May. Even sales in the UK have seen a big jump – Lotus only moved 70 units in 2012, but it’s already sold 80 cars in the first half of 2013.

Better yet, Lotus is citing an increased demand for its cars around the globe as the motive behind the new hires. While still quite uncertain, Lotus looks like it might finally be on the right track.

Lotus hiring 100 after securing £100m investment originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 02 Aug 2013 17:46:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Lotus to move immediately forward with new variants rather than new models

Filed under: Convertible, Coupe, Performance, Lotus, Earnings/Financials, UK

It took 1.5 years, but a DRB-Hicom managing director told Malaysia’s Business Times that the company has “cleaned up” the situation at Lotus from its finances to its marketing and image. The clean-up job we’re most interested in, the product portfolio, will be demonstrated by financial investment in a three-year program of “variants based on existing products – variants with improved technology, improved performance.”

You’ll notice mention of the word “variants” three times but no mention of the phrase “new models.” We knew that with the death of the five-new-model turnaround plan dreamed up by ex-Lotus CEO Dany Bahar DRB-Hicom said there’d only be three distinct lines – which is the current number – but during Lotus’ trouble-plagued 2012 it sold just 80 cars all year, and for a tense spell it really wasn’t clear if DRB-Hicom would commit to even keeping Lotus alive, much less investing in it.

It’s not clear how much is being put into in the three-year program of offshoot models like the 345-horsepower Exige S Roadster (pictured), but it might be fair to say this is where Lotus’ revival really begins, and does so with baby steps. Autocar reports that DRB-Hicom has already put 100 million pounds into the English carmaker, and as its issues were worked through Lotus has sold almost as many cars in the first five months of this year as it did all of last. That has not only convinced the Malaysian minders to throw more money its way, but the UK’s business secretary has also approved a 10-million-pound investment into Lotus through the Regional Growth Facility program.

However, with the Evora and Elise the only other models to earn the “Definites” tag this could put us another three years away from the return of the Esprit. Last we heard it was ready save for a management sign-off, but it goes into reverse – again – to an underground garage called “nebulosity.”

Lotus to move immediately forward with new variants rather than new models originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 22 Jul 2013 16:33:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Spy Shots: Renault Alpine mule captured wearing Lotus duds

Filed under: Spy Photos, Coupe, Performance, Renault

Renault Alpine mule caught on test track - front three-quarter view

A curious, heavily modified Lotus Exige has been spotted lapping the Nürburgring, and, to hear our spy shooters tell it, the car is actually a disguised Renault Alpine A110-50 out chassis testing with Swedish suspension company Öhlins. It was spotted in the company of several key performance cars from Renault Sport, including the Megane RS and Clio. These spy photos confirm that Renault is serious about making the Alpine a production reality and suggests that it needed more than its alliance with Nissan to help foot the development bills.

Caterham became Renault’s partner in this venture last year, and rumors have suggested that this Lotus-disguised Alpine will be mid-engined, with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine offering about 1.6 liters of displacement and making around 270 horsepower.

We have reported in the past that Renault, Infiniti and Lotus were developing a gas-electric hybrid together, and the Renault version could become the Alpine (with Lotus building the production versions of all three cars), but we don’t truly know what the future holds for Renault’s reborn performance division.

Got all that? Neither do we, so we’re going to sit tight and see where the chips fall, but we’ll be sure to let you know when that happens.

Renault Alpine mule captured wearing Lotus duds originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 17 Jul 2013 16:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Lotus getting into the motorcycle business

Filed under: Lotus, Motorcycle, Racing

Lotus Motorcycles emblem

Lotus founder Colin Chapman is famously quoted as saying something to the effect of “Simplify, then add lightness.” We’re a bit amazed that it took this long, but someone appears to be taking that message to heart at the British marque, losing a couple of wheels, a clutter of bodywork and a whole mess of weight. No, Lotus isn’t planning another spindly Seven-style trackday racer, it’s getting into motorcycles.

Well, sort of. As an automaker, Lotus apparently isn’t directly behind this two-wheeled effort, but it does appear to have officially lent its brand and logo to a new company, Lotus Motorcycles, which counts former Volkswagen Group designer Daniel Simon, Germany’s Holzer Group and auto racing team Kodewa among its partners. The latter builds and races Lotus’ T128 Le Mans Prototype in the World Endurance Championship series.

The new company is touting an as-yet unseen motorcycle, a racing-inspired “hyper bike” called C-01, releasing only the image above – a carbon fiber fuel tank trimmed in Lotus’ trademark black and gold livery. Details are tough to come by, but the project is said to include a powertrain good for around 200 horsepower and construction involving titanium, carbon fiber and aerospace-grade steel.

The C-01’s shape will come from Simon, a designer who has not only worked at Bugatti, he’s also credited with a few Hollywood fantasymobiles, including the Lightcycle from Tron: Legacy and more recently the “Bubbleship” spacecraft used by Tom Cruise in Oblivion. The company promises that the legendary Lotus 49 racecar was a “main inspiration” in its conception, and “all color schemes pay homage to iconic Lotus racing liveries.” We can’t wait to see more, but we’ll have to – at least a little while. The company says we can expect further images and information in “the next few weeks.” For more, check out the company’s statement released via Facebook by scrolling below.

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Lotus getting into the motorcycle business originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 21 Jun 2013 18:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Lotus in search of new buyers?

Filed under: Performance, Lotus, Earnings/Financials

Lotus CEO Dany Bahar and Toyota president Akio Toyoda

Lotus CEO Dany Bahar and Toyota president Akio Toyoda

There’s no question that Lotus needs to sell more cars if it is to survive in an industry rapidly centralizing into major groups. But when CEO Dany Bahar talks about looking for new buyers, he’s not talking about selling cars. He’s talking about selling the company itself.

Of course, Lotus is not Bahar’s to sell, strictly speaking. The company belongs to Proton. But the Malaysian state automaker may not have the necessary resources to provide Lotus with the synergies and shared development which Bahar identifies as crucial to Lotus’ future success.

A new report from Inside Line quotes Bahar as saying that Lotus may need to partner with a larger automaker in order to develop into a serious player in the sportscar business. All eyes are on Toyota, the Japanese automaker whose engines and other components Lotus currently uses.

The partnership could emerge as something akin to what Aston Martin is fostering with Daimler – that is to say, some sort of an alliance that does not involve selling the company – or could result in the brand being sold, lock stock and barrel, to the auto giant. One way or another, Lotus probably can’t go it alone.

Lotus in search of new buyers? originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 01 Jun 2011 16:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Video: Fifth Gear tracks Porsche 911 Carrera against Lotus Evora S

Filed under: Coupe, Videos, Lotus, Porsche

lotus evora vs porsche 911

Lotus Evora S vs. Porsche 911 – Click above to watch video after the jump

How focused do you want your sports car? While you can go out and twist the track-ready dial to 11, some folks only want a dash more punch than the next guy. A daily-drivable hoon machine is what’s required, and Fifth Gear lined up two of them to battle it out at the Dutch TT Circuit Assen.

The Lotus Evora S squares off against the Porsche 911, and Fifth Gear’s Vicki Butler-Henderson pushes both coupes around the course. Is Germany’s icon quicker than this blue British bomber? Click past the jump to find out.

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Fifth Gear tracks Porsche 911 Carrera against Lotus Evora S originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 23 May 2011 18:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Lotus delays Elan until 2016, Esprit on track for 2013

Filed under: Concept Cars, Lotus

lotus elan concept car

Lotus Concept Cars – Click above for high-res image gallery

Despite the barrage of concepts presented at the Paris Motor Show, Lotus still has lots of planning ahead as it maps out the future. Five concept vehicles were revealed in 2010:the Elan, Elise, Elite, Esprit and Eterne. We’ve got an update on two of them.

Car and Driver says that the Lotus Esprit should arrive by 2013. The Elan, however, has a murkier future. Forget 2013; it’s been speculated that we might not see it until 2016. Blame the Lotus Evora.

Orignally, Lotus planned to shut down the Evora so that it could give way to the Elan. Now, Lotus management has decided that the Evora deserves a traditional model cycle. Should the Evora continue into a second generation, it puts the Elan’s existence into question. If a second-generation Evora isn’t developed, a next-generation car, then new Elan will arrive and fill in the open lineup spot.

Lotus delays Elan until 2016, Esprit on track for 2013 originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 21 May 2011 12:05:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Caterham lineup set to expand under Team Lotus ownership

Caterham Seven Team Lotus trio

Caterham Seven Team Lotus Special Edition – Click above for high-res image gallery

It was only a few months ago that we reported on Caterham’s plans to expand its lineup. But a lot has happened since then, particularly for an automaker whose core product range is anchored in a design that goes back nearly six decades.

Since the launch of the SP/300.R, Caterham was acquired by Tony Fernandes – the same Malaysian entrepreneur behind Team Lotus F1. The new ownership is intent to keep the same management in place, but the cash injection is expected to lead to a further broadening of the company’s lineup.

Just what that will entail remains to be seen, but Autocar reports that whatever comes next down the pipeline will (arguably unlike some of Lotus’ own new products) remain faithful to Colin Chapman’s less-is-more philosophy.

The report also indicates a two-way door between Caterham and Team Lotus, the latter’s F1 cars set to feature the former’s branding while F1-derived technologies are set to trickle down to Caterham’s products. A Caterham Seven with regenerative braking and adaptive aerodynamics? Too soon to say, but the sky’s the proverbial limit.

Caterham lineup set to expand under Team Lotus ownership originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 10 May 2011 18:32:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Rumormill: Team Lotus to acquire Caterham

Filed under: Motorsports, Lotus, UK, Rumormill

Caterham 7 racing

Colin Chapman’s legacy is a great one, without a doubt. But Lotus – the automaker and engineering firm he founded – isn’t the only one wielding it these days. So, too, do a number of manufacturers that build “continuation” versions of the famed Lotus 7, chief among them Caterham. And so does Team Lotus.

The latter Formula One racing outfit, as you may recall, originally licensed the name from Lotus’ Malaysian parent company Proton. It then bought the team name from an outside party laying claim. All of this prompted a legal battle between the racing team and the automaker which is still ongoing, a situation that was further complicated when Lotus itself got into the sport by buying into the Renault F1 team.

Now it appears that the Malaysian-owned racing team could be seeking to outflank Lotus itself by buying-out Caterham, the leading manufacturer of contemporary Sevens, as well as new models like the SP/300R. A press conference is reportedly scheduled for next week, so we’ll find out soon enough if the reports prove accurate. But for now, they certainly sound intriguing.

[Source: Autosport | Image: Caterham]

Rumormill: Team Lotus to acquire Caterham originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 22 Apr 2011 18:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Lotus to phase out Toyota-powered Elise and Exige with special Final Editions

Filed under: Convertible, Performance, Lotus, Specialty

2009 Lotus Exige S260

2009 Lotus Exige S260 – Click above for high-res image gallery

Lotus’s supply of Toyota 2ZZ-GE engines has finally run out, meaning production of the company’s highly popular Exige and Elise will come to an abrupt halt in July. To commemorate its track-day superstars’ success, Lotus will send the cars off with an extremely limited number of Final Editions. With Lotus up to its axles in financial uncertainty, this may represent your last chance to get your hands on a new Lotus Elise or Exige.

There are two trim levels planned for the Exige’s parting-shot model. Lotus says it will build 30 examples of the Exige S260 Final Edition for North America, with Lotus’ Track Pack, Tour Pack and LSD as standard. If that’s not special enough for you, Lotus is offering 25 customers the chance to have their S260 painted matte black. Price for the “standard” S260 is $67,500, with the matte-black version ringing the register at $69,900.

American and Canadian fans of the Elise have fewer options, with only 15 examples of the 2011 Lotus Elise SC Final Edition planned. Lotus says the car will get the buyer’s choice of four color schemes based on the Europe-only Elise Club Racer. To sweeten the deal, the Elise SC Final Edition will come loaded to the gunnels with options. Price for the last Elise is $57,500. If you’re hoping to get your hands on a Final Edition, get in line now.

Gallery: Review: 2009 Lotus Exige S 260

Gallery: Geneva 2010: 2011 Lotus Elise

[Source: GGLotus]

Report: Lotus to phase out Toyota-powered Elise and Exige with special Final Editions originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 16 Apr 2011 15:22:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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