Update: Lotus ‘Dawn of New Era’ Signals Move to Luxury

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Lotus sent out a cryptic teaser image on Monday hinting at the “dawn of a new era” for the small British sports car maker. We still believe that the dawn will be heralded by either a new Esprit or an Evora convertible, but the message may have bigger implications, such as becoming a true luxury sports car competitor to Ferrari.

Yesterday, Lotus’ owner Proton unveiled a five-year business plan for Lotus’ future. The small British sports car maker currently produces three models, two of which -- the Elise and Exige -- are hardcore lightweight track toys with next to no luxury. The Evora is certainly more luxurious, but not quite on the scale of Ferrari, Lotus’ target.

Eschewing Colin Chapman’s idea of “simplify and add lightness” for a new motto of “tomorrow’s luxury sports car, today,” Lotus will begin building true luxury sports cars by 2015. The cars will cost between €100,000 ($123,000) and €130,000 ($159,000) and will be offered with a range of luxury items. Lotus is already working to incorporate an automatic transmission into the Evora, a trend we’ve seen with other boutique sports car makers as well.

Upcoming Lotus luxury sports cars will truly be gunning for Ferrari, with advanced technology like a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and active aerodynamics -- features found on Ferrari’s new 458 Italia. In addition, the upcoming luxury Lotus models will also feature continuously variable dampers for a more luxurious ride, and green items such as hybrids and extended-range electric vehicles are also planned.

Although Lotus is planning to move upmarket to compete with the likes of Ferrari, Aston Martin, Mercedes-Benz, and possibly Porsche’s Panamera coupe, the business plan indicated it wouldn’t leave its roots behind. Lotus will likely continue to keep hardcore models like the Elise and Exige as integral models in its lineup.

Aside from sports cars, Lotus will also put a small two-door hatchback city car into production, based on the Proton EMAS concept by Giugiaro. Proton will also build the models a four-door hatchback. Both cars will use small internal combustion engines and possibly a hybrid powertrain with Lotus’ range extender.

Source: Paul Tan Blog

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