Lotus Approves City Car, May Leave UK

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
lotus approves city car may leave uk

Lotus has approved its Emas city car concept for production in 2013, giving the sportscar firm an in-house competitor to Aston Martin’s Cygnet rebadge of the Toyota iQ. The extended-range electric car was first shown at the last Geneva auto show, when our own Martin Schwoerer praised its “enormous’ interior space, and well-engineered packaging. The Emas uses Lotus’s three-cylinder range extender, mated to an electric drivetrain with a peak output of 75 kW (101 HP) and 206 lb-ft of torque, and will be the only non-performance vehicle in the Lotus range. But it won’t be the cheapest bit of Lotus-branded kit you’ll be able to buy when the brand relaunches, as the NYT reports

Lotus will also put its name on an array of quotidian objects like key fobs, cellphone holders and laptop bags, which a Lotus publicist described as “cool, high-end pieces that provide an entry level to the brand.”

But with so much emphasis being placed on turning Lotus into a “lifestyle brand,” there’s a major cloud hanging over the whole project: though Lotus is one of the quintessentially British brands, the firm says it will shift production to a supplier on the European continent (think Valmet and Magna-Steyr) if the British government doesn’t make with a £40m ($62m) Regional Growth Fund loan to support a new factory in Hethel. Which means that if the British government doesn’t take a huge gamble on a firm that even Bob Lutz thinks only has a 60 percent chance of success, Lotus will not only no longer be a true British brand, it won’t even build is own cars. But should British taxpayers bankroll such a risky play at a luxury niche?

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  • Steve65 Steve65 on Dec 18, 2010

    Isn't the Cygnet intended to be solely sold to existing Aston Martin owners, and solely to meet some regualtroy mandate by averaging it against the sales of real Astons? As such, it has no "competition" per se. I like the idea of extended range EVs. Unlike BEVs, they answer a real question and fill a real need in the personal use vehicle marketplace.

    • L'avventura L'avventura on Dec 18, 2010

      The purpose of the Cygnet and this Lotus are completely different. Lotus, unlike Aston Martin, doesn't need to meet any emissions regulations as their Elise is already frugal and is their highest-volume car. This Emas is more of technology showcase for Lotus. They envision that they would be a major supplier of these three-cylinder range extender engines and the associated technology. The reality is that they don't have the fundamental capacity to mass produce batteries and other components to make a successful EV. There is an economies of scale that Lotus will never achieve. However, by merely bringing the Emas to production, they see it as a method to licence crucial technology associated with EVs and market their consultancy business that is shifting from sports cars to low-volume EVs. At the very least we should see the Emas as a rebranded Proton.

  • Wallstreet Wallstreet on Dec 18, 2010

    "... Lotus will not only no longer be a true British brand..." I believe Lotus is majority owned by Proton AKA de facto Malaysian Government mobile. It's funny how Malaysian government won't shift production to Southeast Asian. I guess perception still sells huh ?