FOUNDED BY MOTOR ENTHUSIASTS FOR MOTOR ENTHUSIASTS
The rejuvenated Lotus is perhaps one of the most exciting motoring brands at the moment, embracing technology, pushing the boundaries of vehicle aerodynamics, and overall, evolving Lotus in a way that recaptures its futuristic, inventive roots while managing to somehow remain grounded.
Lotus is a brand that for many motorheads, still carries the DNA of roguish racing genius, Colin Chapman – a brand prepared to go its own way and break new ground, while exploiting every opportunity for racing advantage. The new line-up exploded into the public consciousness with the launch of the stunning, other-worldy looking Evija, all-electric Hypercar, which will go from 0-186mph in just over 9 seconds.
Lotus’s Emira & Eletre
The Emira re-established Lotus’s place in the racing-focused sportscar niche, so ably established with the Elise and Exige. This time though, there’s a comfortable, technologically advanced interior, and ‘everyday usability’. Engines are a much-loved 3.5l supercharged V6, and ‘the world’s most powerful production 4-cylinder engine’ developed with AMG and tuned to deliver 360bhp. With prices for the Emira starting at just £59,995, that’s an awful lot of car for the money.
In early 2022, Lotus delivered yet another surprise with the launch of the all-electric, Urus-rivalling SUV, the Eletre. Sharing the sharp creases and purposeful lines of the Emira, this full-size SUV hits 60mph in less than 3 seconds and has a range of over 370 miles. Active aero at both front a rear ensures optimised efficiency and planted handling across the speed range, while the extraordinary futuristic cabin combines practicality with comfort and sustainability.
A brief history of Lotus
Colin Chapman built his first car in a garage in 1948. He was 20 years old. In 1952, he founded Lotus Engineering Limited with fellow University College, London graduate, Colin Dare, and set up shop in old stables behind a hotel in North London. Team Lotus was set up to compete in Formula One and was split off from Lotus engineering in 1954. It raced in Formula One for 36 years from 1958 to 1994. In 1959, the Lotus Group was created which comprised of Lotus Cars Limited (focused on road cars) and Lotus Components Limited (which focused on customer competition car production).
Lotus has operated out of a former WWII airfield, RAF Hethel, in Norfolk since 1966. Production initially focused on selling self-build kits, before their first solely factory-built Lotus Elan Plus Two. The subsequent Eclat and Elite of the mid-1970s were also solely offered in factory-built versions. Lotus became synonymous with lightweight, fibreglass-bodied sports cars with excellent racing handling.
Lotus developed and launched the Lotus Seven in the 1950s, focusing on a super lightweight, open two-seater. Production continued for the next 20 years, at which point Lotus sold the production rights to Caterham, which has continued production ever since.
By the mid-1970s, Lotus set out to move the brand more upmarket, creating the Elite, Eclat and the wonderful, Esprit. The Esprit, helped ably by James Bond, became Lotus’s longest lived, and of course, most loved, models.
The Esprit was powered by turbocharged versions of Lotus’s own engines – a four cylinder DOHC and a V8. The engines proved popular with other manufacturers, most notably the Jensen Healey and Sunbeam Lotus. Even Vauxhall got in on the action with the creation of their fastest road car (at the time), the Lotus Carlton.
By 1980, largely due to a worldwide recession, Lotus was in trouble. A deal to assist Toyota with the development of the Mk2 Toyota Supra (Celica) helped, and with the use of Toyota components, enabled Chapman to reduce the cost of the new Excel – hoping this would reinvigorate sales in the USA.
Combined with an innovative sales plan, the new strategy was successful, injecting enough revenue into the company to support the development of the Giugiaro-designed Turbo Esprit.
Colin Chapman died in 1982, at the age of 54. A year later, Lotus was facing bankruptcy. David Wickins, the founder of British Car Auctions, took on the role of chairman. Wickins brought in new investors, including Sir Anthony Bamford of JCB, and together, managed to turn the business around. That said, by 1985, the investors knew they still didn’t have the necessary means to expand and develop the range. In 1986, they sold the brand to General Motors.
GM continued with the brand until 1993, when it was sold for just £30million to ACBN Holdings of Luxembourg, controlled by Italian businessman, Romano Artioli. In ’96, a majority share was then sold to Malaysian car maker, Proton.
To bring us up to date, in 2017, a controlling stake of 51% of Lotus was acquired by Geely or China.
The future of Lotus
In January 2021, Geely announced a joint venture with Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance and their Alpine division. The result would be a range of all-electric high-performance supercars and sports cars. In 2021, Lotus committed to producing only electric cars by 2028, with a massive scale up of production from 1,500 cars per year to tens of thousands.
This announcement was followed swiftly by the introduction of three remarkable new models – the Evija hypercar, the Emira supercar, and the Eletre – the first fully electric high-performance SUV.
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