Lotus Kills the Exige, Evora, and Elise so Its New Sports Cars Can Live
These lithe sporty machines are now lighter than ever—because they no longer exist.
After carrying the Lotus brand for the past two decades, the Elise, Evora, and Exige sports cars are headed to the great curvy road in the sky after the 2021 model year. We can already hear the cries of sports car enthusiasts around the world, and, yes, let us all mourn the simultaneous triple-kill of some great driving cars. However, there is some good news on the horizon: An all-new range of Lotus sports cars are coming.
The first of Lotus's three new sports cars will be called the Type 131, and production will begin by the end of this year at the automaker's new production plant in Hethel, Norfolk. We all likely remember what happened at the 2010 Paris motor show, which makes skepticism toward this latest news understandable. As a refresher: six new models were promised, and not one came to fruition. The situation Lotus is in now, however, is markedly different from the Dany Bahar-era debacle and flubbed timelines.
Lotus's parent company, Geely, recently poured more than $137 million into the new Hethel production facility. That will create some 250 new jobs on top of the 670 people Lotus has already hired since 2017 (when Geely took over). In other words, Lotus already has the cash, facilities, and manpower to actually deliver on the promise of an all-new sports car, let alone three.
While we don't have much in the way of details on the Lotus Type 131, it's safe to say we are excited by the prospect. There hasn't been a truly new Lotus in a very long time (excluding the Evija, which we'll come to). The Series 1 Elise was released in 1996, and the Exige broke cover at the turn of the millennium. The Evora made its debut in 2008, and together the three cars served as the backbone of the Lotus car lineup for almost 25 years.
The Evija is the first all-new Lotus in a decade, but it won't be sold in the U.S. and costs north of $2 million. As a result, it's not the sort of stripped-down, everyman sports car that Lotus is most well known for building. Instead, the Evija is a future-forward technical showcase, made to bring investors and new customers to the brand and thereby help fund the Type 131 and the two other cars that will (hopefully) follow.
It looks like things are looking up for the storied automaker, and we can only hope things go as planned, given the past decade of false starts. The world needs great sports cars, and Lotus has a habit of making some of the best and most focused in the business.