By on April 11, 2012

Thank god for social media. Not only does it subject me to the various armchair CEOs and their plans for the future of Lotus, but it also alerts me to when an unknown Lotus PR wag goes completely off the reservation, and publishes a hate-filled invective on Facebook that looks like an angst-filled letter penned by a 19 year old boy to his ex-girlfriend. And you know what? I like it.

Yes, the letter (and the above photo) is filled with angry sniping, snarky remarks and thinly veiled insults. It’s unprofessional and discourteous. It would never be approved by a corporate PR chair-filled. Did you expect anything less?

A big portion of the letter seems to be devoted to debunking baseless rumors and factually incorrect conjecture – in other words, the foundations of modern “automotive journalism”. Most blogs are, frankly, not concerned with any form of truth. The main goal is, of course, to get you to click on their article by luring you in with an incorrect or sensational headline. Editors hand down decrees that one must be “first” with the story (as if anyone really gives a shit which outlet publishes something 5 seconds before another outlet) and in a rush to meet the deadline, or make money on some draconian pay-per-post or pay-per-pageview payscale, unsubstantiated rumors, poorly researched topics and articles without fact checking get published, and incorrect, even potentially damaging information slips into the public consciousness.

Couple this fact with another element; the entire motoring press seems to be against Lotus with a fervor usually reserved for warring parties in Middle Eastern sectarian conflicts. Some of these reasons are built on sound principles, related to business practices, strength of the product and whatnot. Others, just want to criticize you and attack your CEO as “an over-coiffed little shit” for no other reason than to get more web traffic. Unfortunately for Lotus, some of these dimwits happen to play a role in shaping public opinion. They took the new lineup as an insult to their self-image as the vanguards of automotive purity, and thus lashed out in child-like petulance at Bahar’s attempt to do what all business (yes, car companies are businesses, not public trusts) are supposed to do; turn a profit. Luckily, my self-image is not wrapped up in an automobile brand and their products, so I can see both sides of the issue – and Bertel, Ed and the TTAC crew do not mandate any sort of click bait sensationalism that would put us on this profane path.

How does Lotus fight back? Sending out an email with the real facts will probably be willfully ignored, and nobody will pick up a press release stating the real information either. Why not scorch the earth? There is really nothing to lose at this point. Everyone in the automotive press is against you and not open to hearing your message, no matter how many free cars or lavish trips you’re willing to give away. Publishing something equally sensational, that people will talk about, and bloggers will pile on to, will get you noticed, and conveniently provide a vehicle to get your message out.

Dany Bahar played a good part in turning Ferrari into the profit-turning juggernaut it is today. He’s not stupid, despite what the $30k a year enthusiast club on Twitter would have you believe. I admire the candor that Lotus shows in the release, and this may not turn out to be the beggining of the end for Lotus (what people seem to want), but perhaps a new way for car companies to start combating the poor “journalism” practices – really, nothing more than just the continuous spreading of rumors, poorly-informed opinions or outright falsehoods – and a way to make sure their message gets heard. I’m not saying we’re going to see General Motors go apeshit and do this every time the Volt gets bad press, but why fight an unstoppable monster on its own terms when you can do something subversive, that gets people talking, and lets you take back control of the discourse? Lotus seems to have an innate understanding that most online outlets will publish any crap that will generate ad revenue, no matter how inaccurate it is. Good on them for beating the blogs at their own game.

Press release is below.

Never let the facts get in the way of a good story….

Take a little look at what we found online. Don’t you think it’s funny? We do. We had a good old giggle. After all, we love a bit of self irony, just as well really. Although it’s funny, this one’s not accurate but then again, why let the facts get in the way of a good story? The inconvenient truth is – surprise, surprise – we have never said that there are no problems at Lotus.

So whilst lots of people obviously feel the need to comment on Lotus’ current situation in the absence of proper facts or evidence, we can’t ignore these particular mistruths any longer even if we would like to, so we have decided to turn a negative into a positive and use this hilarious piece of ‘art’ to set the record straight regarding the status quo at Group Lotus and try to return a little stability to a fast changing situation.

False rumour #1: Dany Bahar is no longer CEO of Group Lotus. 
Fact: Rubbish – Dany Bahar still is.

False rumour #2: Dato’ Sri Syed is no longer Managing Director of Proton.
Fact: Again rubbish. He still is.

You can thank good old Tony Fernandes for these two. Don’t take everything he tweets too seriously – perhaps he’s still frustrated about owning Caterham instead of Lotus and the fact that he fights HRT and Marussia instead of Mercedes and Ferrari in F1.

And whilst we’re on the subject of jokes – do you know the latest F1 joke? Mike Gascoyne, Caterham Group’s Chief Technical Officer, has gone missing. Why? He’s looking for the 30 to 40 points he predicted for the last F1 season. Funny.

Speaking of F1: It seems that one special so called ‘independent’ source is at the root of the lion’s share of damaging rumours and misleading stories. The delightful Joe Saward which leads us nicely to….

False rumour #3: Joe Saward is JUST an independent journalist.
Fact: He is an active Director on the Caterham Group Board. 

And unlike some, we don’t want to get too personal, so we’ll leave it to you to judge how ‘independent’ his stories about Lotus are.

False rumour #4: Group Lotus is no longer involved in F1.
Fact: Lotus F1 Team and Group Lotus have reshaped their commercial relationship earlier this year. The new governance agreement signifies the continued commitment of Group Lotus to the team and the sport. 

Group Lotus’ branding and marketing rights and subsequent activities remain unaffected by the new agreement until at least 2017. Alongside continued branding and title partnership status, Group Lotus is also the exclusive master licensee for all Lotus F1 Team merchandise.

The new agreement was reached following Group Lotus owners Proton providing team owners Genii with a £30m loan which is repayable within three years. In order to secure the loan Genii used 100% of the F1 team’s assets as collateral meaning that under the conditions of the loan agreement Proton have been given full title guarantee to all plant, machinery, show cars, computers, office and the Lotus F1 Team headquarters.

In addition Proton retains the rights to purchase 10% of the F1 team. Another 10% share option will be activated if the team default on their loan obligations with Proton.

Again we leave it to your judgement how ‘bad’ Lotus’ current situation in F1 is. And speaking of bad situations…..

False rumour #5: Group Lotus is going into administration.
Fact: Rubbish. The takeover of our parent company Proton by DRB-HICOM couldn’t have come at a worse time, but up until that point Proton was (and still remains) fully committed to our five year business plan to create jobs and to expand the factory and business. With the takeover process the funding has been restricted and DRB-HICOM is taking time to understand what to do with the business. DRB-HICOM is currently in the middle of due diligence of Group Lotus and there have been and continue to be positive discussions between Group Lotus senior management and senior management at DRB-HICOM both here in Hethel and in Malaysia. At no point has DRB-HICOM indicated to Group Lotus that it intends to put the company into administration. The over-active rumour mill is seriously damaging our business reputation, image and credibility but it is what it is.

The simple fact is, and we haven’t denied this – Lotus is going through a very difficult phase at the moment but we are showing true fighting spirit every day in trying to keep this vision alive. This is also a fact – no matter what people outside of Lotus may say or tweet or blog.

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38 Comments on “In A World Gone Mad, Lotus Publishes Angry Facebook Screed...”


  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    This reads as if Lotus hired somebody from Saabs United to write it for them.

  • avatar

    Throughout history, those who adhere to established rules of conflict seem to lose to those who do not. I say good for Lotus, engaging in a little trolololo. Those vocal non-customers on the internet are probably more apt to identify with a good trolling than they are with any new model. It would seem Team Lotus could get some serious mileage out of a marketing campaign built around “IBTL.”

  • avatar
    ajla

    “Dany Bahar played a good part in turning Ferrari into the profit-turning juggernaut it is today.”

    Past performance is no guarantee of future results. And Lotus isn’t Ferrari. It’s Saleen, TVR, Cosworth, or Panoz.

    The Facebook message read like it came straight out of Trollhattan, with a healthy dash of Bob Lutz-style “We’d be doing fine if not for that DARN MEDIA!” thrown in.

    The lead photo seems pretty spot on to me.

    • 0 avatar

      I’d guess that Lotus makes more cars in a year than Saleen, TVR, Cosworth and Panoz have made in history, combined. Lotus may be a small company, perpetually on the financial edge, but it’s substantially larger than any of those firms, and has an engineering consultancy business that is employed by many larger car companies.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “I’d guess that Lotus makes more cars in a year than Saleen, TVR, Cosworth and Panoz have made in history, combined.”

        TVR wasn’t known for their super accurate accounting, but they made at least 5100 Chimaeras and annual production was over 900 units between 1995 and 2000. Saleen did about 300 to 1000 annual Mustang conversion (which aren’t ground up vehicles, but they do say Saleen everywhere).

        However, with my original comment, I was thinking more from a public perception standpoint than a size one. Nearly everyone knows Ferrari. Not many people will know Lotus but won’t know Saleen.

        Panoz might be a bit out there though.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Lotus made about 2,500 cars a year during their peak.

  • avatar
    fredtal

    As a owner of a 1965 Lotus Elan for about 30 years now, I’ve seen Lotus cars go thru a lot of changes, most on the down side. The fact is except for the new Elise, they haven’t made a car that I really care about, let alone can afford. They are slowly abandoning every thing Colin Chapman and Lotus had that made them unique. So now they want to be another Ferrari. So now they are having financial problems. I don’t really care any more.

    • 0 avatar

      Fred,

      I have a ’66 in pieces and have owned it for 40 years. I probably share a lot of your sentiments, but it needs to be noted that Chapman was not a hair-shirt purist. All Lotus road cars, including the original Elite, had a touch of luxury about them. Interiors, unlike most Brit roadsters of the day, were fully trimmed. As an Elan fan, you no doubt know that by the Series 3 cars in 1966-67, Lotus was making electric windows standard. As Chapman got older and as his family grew, Lotus cars got bigger and fancier. The Elan was followed by the +2. The Elite/Eclat was a true four seater that Chapman saw as a bit of an executive’s car (though his daily driver was an S Class Mercedes). At the time of Chapman’s death, Lotus had a V8 powered four door sedan on the drawing boards. The car was never made but the V8 made it into the Esprit.

      So I’m not so sure that ACBC would have objected to what Bahar is doing.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        The Lotus 7 wasn’t particularly luxurious.

      • 0 avatar

        The Lotus Seven also dates to before the original Elite. The Elite is generally considered Lotus’ first real road car. The Seven was originally designed as a track car, not a road car.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Here is a period advertisements that clearly markets the Lotus 7 as a road car:

        http://www.lotus7register.co.uk/images/marketng/series2/s82.jpg

        I recall seeing others in my old magazine collection from the ’60s. Road equipment was always featured. Lotus7register.co.uk has the original Lotus Seven brochure in chapter 7 of their articles, and the Elite is parked in the background of one of the photos. Although it hadn’t reached production, the Elite was being driven on the street by Lotus people before Seven sales began.

      • 0 avatar

        CJ, the fact remains that as Chapman got older Lotus cars got more luxurious.

        The Seven had more to do with the Six and previous Lotus “specials” that were primarily track cars than it did with the Elite and later road cars. I can’t remember which book it was in but I recall reading that Chapman wasn’t particularly thrilled with continuing to sell the Seven as they got deep into the 1960s. It was sort of the stepchild of the Lotus line and got series upgrades more due to the devotion of Lotus employees than to Chapman’s affection for the car.

        From Chris Harvey’s Lotus: The Elite, Elan and Europa:

        “Like his cars, his driving was exceptionally fast, reaching grand prix standards by the time he decided to produce his first road car in volume: the Lotus Elite.”

        Compare an Elite and a Seven of the same vintage and the Seven will be a much more spartan vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I’m sure CC had some sort of rationalization for the use of power windows on many of his cars, but characterizing them as luxurious still seems like a major reach. The Europa barely had the luxury of room to bring your whole body. Whether the interiors merited mention for their accoutrements or not, Lotuses were always dramatically lighter than their road car competition. Even if CC had built a 4 door executive saloon, chances are it would have been 70% of the weight of a 5-series BMW. If he’d really wanted to build Ferraris, there were plenty of Ferraris around to mimic. He didn’t. The Esprit was 2/3rds the weight of the 308GT/4 and little more than 2/3rds the weight of the 246GTB. The Elite 4-seater was a fraction the weight of a Lamborghini Espada. Weight was not something he was willing to compromise, but the new ‘Lotuses’ are trying to be modern heavyweights that will be distinguished by having different yellow badges.

      • 0 avatar
        gottacook

        The first year or two of production, Europas didn’t even have windows that opened, much less power windows. They were real penalty boxes, apparently – although when I saw photos of them in 1967, I sure thought they were cool-looking (well, I was only 10).

  • avatar

    Mongoloids are statistically smarter on average than Europeoids (which are known in America as “Caucasians” despite having nothing with Caucasus). So the racist slur is not merely offensive, but also dumb: it’s not based in fact.

  • avatar
    faygo

    please show me evidence that Bahar had anything to do with Ferrari from an engineering standpoing or was involved in running the race team. Ferrari is what it is because of the road cars and the success of the race team, full stop. they have done plenty of branding and managed to convince plenty of people to buy stuff with the prancing horse on it, but that’s not what makes the company profitable.

    Lotus’ attempt to be Ferrari (or Lamborghini) from decades of building fragile lightweight cars which appeal to a completely different market is a bridge too far. it was nice & splashy to present three (or was it four ? they all looked the same anyway) show cars. and Dany looked nice claiming they had the investment ready to launch them all. However, without firm backing (I would not classify anything Proton has ever done as “firm” nor for that matter, any prior owner of Lotus as having a steady hand on the tiller) it’s just vapor.

    the fact that they have stated they are walking away from what they’ve been known for in the lat 15 years with Elise and variants adds insult to injury to those who have been the reason the brand exists. people who spend $50k on an Elise or Exige as a track car or daily driver toy are not likely to be in the market for a $100k+ primarily street car.

    if the new buyers for Proton don’t think Lotus has value, I don’t see anyone spending $300M+ to take Lotus’ debts and then dumping another $200M into development of a line up of new vehicles.

  • avatar
    geee

    Just a friendly public service reminder. You may possibly have the slowest website in America. Anyone else noticing this? The click and wait effect, while nothing happens?

  • avatar
    tallnikita

    I was completely aghast and prepared negative by the introductory comments, but this thing is frigging brilliant! very nice tone, very non-confrontational and sympathy-evoking. bravo to whoever concocted it.

    • 0 avatar
      CurseWord

      Agreed. Props to Derek for seeing the other side of this PR response. A normal, boring, formulaic press release wouldn’t do be nearly as effective in correcting people’s thinking about Lotus. If they’re going to talk smack, then explain things in their language.

      I also like the commentary on the current poison of rushed blog posts, missed facts, canned segways; the overall assembly line that makes up current online journalism.

  • avatar
    toadroller

    God is doubtless thrilled that you thanked Him, but He likes His name capitalized, just like you do.

    • 0 avatar

      While it’s appropriate to capitalize the Deity’s nouns and pronouns out of respect, Hebrew has no upper case letters, so in the original text, His name is not capitalized. Actually, if I wanted to give Derek a hard time, I’d point out the Jewish tradition of writing G-d, instead of the full spelling.

      I guess Derek is lucky. Over at Jalopnik, one of the writers quoted the book of Amos and got flamed for posting “religious crap”.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Did he (or she?) personally tell you that, toadroller?

  • avatar
    4LiterLexus

    “The takeover of our parent company Proton by DRB-HICOM couldn’t have come at a worse time”

    “The over-active rumour mill is seriously damaging our business reputation, image and credibility”

    Why would Lotus release these statements? I understand that most potential Lotus customers will probably never read this awful press release, but that’s no excuse to give the impression that the company is in crisis. A denial like this only adds fuel to the fire.

  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    “Others, just want to criticize you and attack your CEO as “an over-coiffed little sh!t” for no other reason than to get more web traffic. Unfortunately for Lotus, some of these dimwits happen to play a role in shaping public opinion.”

    I just so happened to check Jalopnik after reading Derek’s post and, true to form, Matt Hardigree is on the attack once again: “Lotus Just Turned a Joke Into a PR Disaster on Facebook.”

    Given the revolving door of talent (and “talent”) that Jalopnik has become, it’s a shame that Hardigree hasn’t moved on as well; He’s an insufferable, pretentious douchebag, par excellence.

  • avatar
    Spike_in_Brisbane

    I worry about the future of Lotus, not because it may stray from it’s brilliant engineering heritage or its history of building lightweight, efficient sports cars, but because I don’t regard Proton as a car company.

    It started as a government funded means to give Malaysia a local manufacturing capacity by assembling and rebadging Mitsubishis. The model is like the Iranian government building Peugeots or the Indian government building Ambassadors. Nothing to do with cars, everything to do with national pride. Proton has nowhere to go.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Gordon

      “It started as a government funded means to give Malaysia a local manufacturing capacity by assembling and rebadging Mitsubishis. The model is like the Iranian government building Peugeots or the Indian government building Ambassadors. Nothing to do with cars, everything to do with national pride.”

      So exactly like Holden then…

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Gordon

      “brilliant engineering heritage”

      You’re joking right?

      • 0 avatar
        Spike_in_Brisbane

        You’re right about Holden. But I am not joking about Lotus engineering.
        Their expertise is behind many successes.
        They have produced gold medal winning bicycles.
        They developed the overhead cam aluminium engine for Chev’s Corvette ZR-1
        The DeLorean.
        Engineering behind Tesla.
        Aston Martin DB9 chassis design.
        They designed and developed GM’s Ecotec engine
        and they are the ‘go to’ guys for any manufacturer wanting to tune their suspension design.

      • 0 avatar

        Formula One:

        Constructors’ Championships 7 (1963, 1965, 1968, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1978)
        Drivers’ Championships 6 (1963, 1965, 1968, 1970, 1972, 1978)
        Race victories 73
        Pole positions 102
        Fastest laps 65

        Oh, and then there’s changing Indy forever with the Lotus 38.

        For a look at other engineering feats, here’s my review of Karl Ludvigson’s Colin Chapman: Inside the Innovator

        http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/06/book-review-colin-chapman-inside-the-innovator/

  • avatar
    Greg Locock

    In my opinion it is rather daft to try and poke the occasionally excellent sniffpetrol, the best response for a serious company would be to ignore them. Rather more amusingly the Facebook rant is also posted on Lotus’ website-

    http://www.lotuscars.com/gb/news/corporate/never-let-facts-get-way-good-story

    I’m still trying to figure out what “self irony” is. Perhaps Alanis could help.

  • avatar
    An Actual LOTUS WORKER

    As it’s pretty obvious that NONE of you good people work at Lotus, have EVER worked at Lotus, or EVER will work at Lotus……this might be the time for you to read my 2 previous posts……..because i DO CURRENTLY work at Lotus as of this date of posting. I think that some of you petrol heads (no offense intended) may find it educational.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Where would we find these educational previous posts?

      • 0 avatar
        An Actual LOTUS WORKER

        Type in Dany Bahar in the search box, then select the title…..Sorry folks, dany bahar was on the right track.

      • 0 avatar
        An Actual LOTUS WORKER

        Just a bit more info for you, in case you’ve read the posts i told you about. DRB-Hicom have just suspended 3 MORE members of senior Lotus management……..Kerry Dugan from Human Resources, and managers from the legal department and the finance department…..After Dany Bahar…….what do you think? These people don’t have access to the kind of money that Bahar has helped his self to.


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