Apparently, Bob Lutz finds it difficult to hang up his reins. He has settled in at Lotus and pegged the company’s chance for success with its overhaul program at 60 percent.
Maximum Bob wants to provide cars that are “fantastically desirable” and is a member of the Lotus senior advisory board of industry experts.
“People keep asking me if I’m sure the new plan will work,” Lutz told Autocar. “And of course I can’t guarantee that. It’s a risk. But I’m quite certain it stands a better chance than the Lotus status quo, which for sure would eventually lead this great brand into terminal decline.”
Lotus currently has the Elise, Evora, and Exige in its stable but is planning to revive the storied Esprit in 2013. Waiting to follow the former and future flagship is a new Elan, Elite, and remodeled Elise. The four-door Eterne is slated for a 2015 release and will do battle with the likes of the Aston Martin Rapide, Maserati Quattroporte, and Porsche Panamera. All five future models were first shown during the Paris Motor Show and could change significantly before their actual production release.
The plan is nothing short of ambitious, considering the Lotus name doesn’t have the same mainstream appeal of its bigger luxury marque competitors. It’s going from being a niche sports car maker to a brand with a full-fledged lineup aiming to grow market share (with higher prices to boot). The early customer target range numbers from 6000 to 7000 buyers per year.
Lutz acknowledged majority stakeholder Proton is taking “a pretty big gamble” on the endeavor. Rebuilding risk is inherent, but he found plenty of positives coming out of the projects.
“The engineering I’ve seen so far is very good, and they’re definitely going about it the right way,” said Lutz. “The money they’re spending on each model is only a fraction of what we’d have spent at GM on similar projects.”
Lotus CEO Dany Bahar has been pushing the Hethel-based brand for greater exposure on the consumer and motorsport fronts, even recently buying a stake in the Renault Formula 1 team. At the moment, it appears there will be two Lotus F1 teams competing in 2011 but the factory effort will operate as Lotus Renault GP.
Early pricing and release estimates for new Lotus models
Esprit — due Spring 2013 (110,000 GBP/$174,000)
Elan — due Fall 2013 (75,000 GBP/$118,000)
Elite — due Spring 2014 (115,000 GBP/$181,000)
Elise — due Spring 2015 (35,000 GBP/$55,000)
Eterne — due Spring 2015 (120,000 GBP/$189,000)
Sources: Autocar, Lotus