Lotus invited a considerable amount of schadenfreude when, about a year ago, it introduced not one new car, but an entire new lineup. And there have been plenty of opportunities to steal a mirthless laugh at Lotus’s expense, including when the firm backed away from Toyota engines, talked up the “authenticity” of a rolling chassis, ran into Chinese branding problems, and drew inadvertent comparisons to Reebok by hiring rapper/producer Swizz Beatz. And the hits keep coming. Lotus Senior Adviser, Former BMW executive Karl-Heinz Kalbfell tells Autocar
The brand is well known but the products are not. We are focusing on a new range of cars, but we must sell more cars now.
But how well can the brand be if the cars aren’t selling? Speaking as someone who spends bit of time interacting with auto enthusiasts, I’d argue there are actually some serious questions out there about what a Lotus is, what with all the talk of hybrids, folding hardtops, performance sedans and generally increased weights. But Kalbfell was just scratching the surface of the host of problems to be found in the land of the Lotus eaters…
Part of the problem: how do you go from building spartan, relatively affordable Elises to Ferrari-fighting supercars? Lotus had actually planned to kill its newest and most expensive car, the Evora, in favor of a new “Elan” that was part of the initial new lineup. Those plans changed earlier this year, when Lotus announced that it was dropping the Elan (weirdly, the model still appears on the Lotus website) and giving the Evora convertible, targa and club racer versions. More importantly, Lotus needs more expensive versions of the Evora (which starts at $64k) to build consumers up to the $150,000-ish projected price of its forthcoming Esprit flagship… which is coming, in the form of an Evora GTE that should come close to matching the Esprit’s price. There’s only one problem, explains Kalbfell
We have some great cars in our range, like the Evora. Many car companies would love to have the Evora in their range. Now the point must be to get the car on the shopping list of buyers… We cannot just jump buyers up from the Elise to the Esprit
Oh no? But Lotus can become a globally-recognized supercar brand despite not having a proper US dealer body or even a US-specific webpage… right, Herr Kalbfell?
We also have to work on the dealer body, the potential customers and what will be the aftersales service
Yes… now that you mention it, that might be a good call. Luckily Lotus’s management team, once described by CEO Dany Bahar as the “Real Madrid” (think New York Yankees) of the car industry, speaks with one voice and can lead their floundering firm to the promised land… right?
The company is not good at coming to a joint decision. So I am also creating a management platform where problems, delays, whatever can be discussed.
Oh. Well that’s not great. But, other than the product range problems, the short-term sales problems, the Chinese branding problems, the US dealer/service/support problems, the overhype problems and the management problems, everything is fine, right? Lotus is on track to become the next Porsche or Ferrari, right? Is that a fair assessment, Herr Kalbfell? Bueller? Anybody?