When “Maximum” Bob Lutz showed up on the advisory board at Lotus, we were hardly surprised about his choice of post-retirement projects. After all, Lotus is one of the most audacious (privately-funded) turnaround attempts in an industry that runs on turnarounds, and Lutz is the king of building automotive hype, fresh off of one of the most overexposed automotive projects in recent memory, the Chevy Volt. Besides, Lotus’s shot at an overnight leap from niche enthusiast brand to Ferrari and Porsche-rivaling juggernaut is so brazenly implausible, that Lutz actually lends credibility to the project. At least, he would do if he didn’t have that irrepressible knack for saying things like
People keep asking me if I’m sure the new plan will work, 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
Lutz goes on to tell Autocar that Lotus’s billion dollar turnaround “a big gamble,” and admits that “a fair bit of showbiz” is driving Lotus’s quantum leap towards becoming a full-line sportscar and supercar maker. Does it sound like Lutz might have some mixed feelings about Lotus’s rush to trample its enthusiast credentials? More maximum mixed feelings below the fold.
It’s tough to say what exactly Lutz is trying to prove when he says
The engineering I’ve seen so far is very good, and they’re definitely going about it the right way. The money they’re spending on each model is only a fraction of what we’d have spent at GM on similar projects.
That kind of talk is fine coming from the old Lotus, which built enthusiast-oriented cars that sold on their performance and niche appeal rather than Ferrari-alike “prestige.” Everyone knows Lotus’s leap from small, light, composite-bodied sportscars to hybrid-power, folding-hardtops, and four-door sedans is ambitious, even with its $1.2bb budget, but is that what Lutz was hired to remind people of? Or was the idea to just generally compare Lotus’s forthcoming products to GM? Is Lutz suggesting, for example, that more money was spent developing the Corvette ZR1 than the new Ferrari 458-fighting Lotus Esprit? Or was Lotus totally unaware of the fact that Lutz tends to speak his mind and worry about the consequences later?