By on March 13, 2012

As one of the few people who doesn’t hate the direction Lotus is going in, the news that development of Lotus’ entire lineup has been suspended is disheartening. It seems that the Malaysian government is looking to unload their stake in Proton, parent company of Lotus.

Malaysian takeover laws stipulate a three month “lockdown” on any company that may change hands, ostensibly as part of a “due diligence” period. That means that car production can continue, but Lotus cannot do any real R&D work. CEO Dany Bahar is apparently flying to Kuala Lumpur once a week to keep Proton brass in the loop regarding their five year plan for the British sports car marque.

Bahar told Evo magazine

‘This difficult period for Lotus finishes at the end of March and that’s 
when we will know then whether DRB-Hicom [which owns 49.7 percent of Lotus -ED] will want to continue with our 
business plan,’ Bahar admits, ‘I really hope they will but I cannot call it at the moment, it’s still 50:50.’

While we’ll have to wait until the end of March to find out about DRB-Hicom, it will take even more time to see what happens with the sale of the government’s remaining stake in Proton. The launch of the Esprit will now be pushed back to 2013, while the Exige S and Evora GTE are delayed with no time table specified – Lotus already has 400 orders for the Exige S, and a setback like this is the last thing the company needs. Lotus will continue their motorsports and marketing efforts, with a new company store set to open in June on London’s Regent Street (Bahar, after all, helped Ferrari become the branding and marketing powerhouse it currently is under the tutelage of Luca di Montezemolo).

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14 Comments on “Lotus Suspends Development Of New Models Due To Pending Proton Sale...”

  • avatar

    I never liked the direction Lotus was going in. The 5 model plan was too ambitious from the beginning. I spent some time tryig to fit into some of their cars at the Washington Auto Show. The first thing Lotus needs is a refinement of the Evora. The car shows some promise that Lotus could build a useable street car, but needs further development. To think that anyone in his right mind would choose the Evora over a 911, at least in any numbers, is crazy. The Elise and Exige need development as well. These 3 cars should be the basis for Lotus going forward. Fix what you got first, then think about new models.

    • 0 avatar

      There are a few problems with that:

      1. They kept refining the Exige and Elise. They dropped weight, added carbon fiber, made improvements, added horsepower. Result: very, very few sales.

      2. Unfortunately, the Exige/Elise platform is done in the US. It really sucks, especially because the V6 Exige looks like it will be one of the Lotus greats, but that’s the way it is. There is no point in further development.

      3. They are refining the Evora. They have redone the interior and interior manufacturing (thank god). A street version of the GTE looks to be coming, with 200 lbs. less weight and 100 more horsepower than the S. It also looks far, far better.

      4. The future vehicles are all based upon the Evora’s Variable Vehicle architecture. They are essentially clever Evora derivatives. The Elan was supposed to be the future Evora (and that’s the one I really want).

      It amazes me that Lotus was really trying to generate excitement. Instead, enthusiasts have just hated on it for doing too much. I feel like they can’t win.

      • 0 avatar

        I spent a little time in all 3 cars at the Washington Auto Show. Needed a yoga class in order to get in or out of the Exige and the Elise (Elise had the top on). Inside, the cars are just barely out of the Dark Ages. Horsepower and lower weight cannot counter just how barbaric these cars are.

        The Evora was MUCH better, but still needs a great deal more refinement to match up to a 911. Again, the problem is not a lack of hp, it is a lack of refinement.

      • 0 avatar

        a lotus is not a Porsche. A car can’t be judged by sitting in it at a trade show. A couch can.

      • 0 avatar

        ccd2 – you have pointed to *exactly* why they are adding weight. They need to satisfy people like you. That’s also why they are changing the line, not just evolving it.

        It’s funny – the Exige interior is perhaps my favorite new car interior on Earth. I love the minimalism. I love the close fit. The entry is a pain, but once inside it feels like automotive nirvana to me – nothing but aluminum, carbon fiber, and alcantara.

      • 0 avatar

        I find that car shows are valuable for finding out cars that are NOT worth taking for a test drive. You can sit in them, find out how HARD it is to sit in them in the case of Lotus, see how big or small the trunk is, etc. The current Lotus line fails all my needs in these areas. No need to waste my time or a dealer’s taking the car on a test drive when it would never work for me.

  • avatar

    Lotus ceasing to exist would be superior to their name being used to market another line of heavy genitalia substitutes with mandatory automatic transmissions.

  • avatar

    The company that owns Lotus is named “Proton”.

    The Malaysian government is trying to sell its share of Proton.

    400 orders of a car placed which has no release date.

    This is car manufacturer, and not a ponzi scheme?

    “We don’t need to sell *cars*, just the idea of selling cars to people who want to sell car ads to networks, see? And those 5 lotus c.e.o.s fly to 5 different government and keep THEM invested, who in turn…”

  • avatar

    I’m with Derek. Better an impure Lotus than none at all. Porsche has already done this (Cayenne, Panamera, whatever).


  • avatar

    Re-thinking Lotus as a brand isn’t a bad idea. But Bahar has built a house of cards. Lambo should sue over that concept car, the front looks awfully familiar.

    • 0 avatar

      I was thinking the same thing. They need more styling differential in the new cars if they want to succeed. You want people to say “Hey, look at the new Lotus” not “Oh, at first glance I thought it was a Lambo”.

      Fore the Elise and Exige, some people don’t need anything fancy. I wuold buy an Elise in a heartbeat if I had room to garage it and could afford another toy.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    Any word on the engineering arm of the firm?

    • 0 avatar

      the engineering div is separate?

      I take they’re pretty advanced in designing /inventing.
      but comes to building cars i cant say a lot.

      sadly folks who pay big bucks expect a car to go fast and have all the accoutrements of a moving palace.

      or else they could buy a go kart or ariel atom kind of machine.

      If I’m going to sell my car, will i go buy 4 25″ pirelli p0000 XXX rated to go in it?

  • avatar

    I really want to see Lotus succeed. There should be enough room in the market for a minimalist car built for the corners. Their core line up (elise, exige, evora) are impractical in every sense but I think the engineering for light equipment advances the industry at-large.

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