By on September 26, 2014
Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales

Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales

With news that Lotus won’t be selling any 2015 model year cars in the United States, minuscule sales in their home market of the UK, and announcement of the impending layoff of about a quarter of the firm’s global workforce, many observers think that the company Colin Chapman founded 62 years ago is circling the drain. While there are certainly dark clouds in Lotus’ financial picture, having booked about $447 million in loses over the previous two fiscal years, there is some silver lining some of those clouds. Worldwide Lotus car sales are up dramatically.

Of course when you’re starting with a baseline of selling just 1,232 cars in a year as Lotus did last year, selling just a few more cars can result in dramatic percentage increases, but the fact remains that from the start of the current fiscal year in April through the month of August, Lotus’ global sales are up 46% to 914 cars during that period. As U.S. dealers will have to make do with existing stock of new unsold 2014 (and some 2013) cars until a FMVSS complaint car is offered in 2016, European Lotus dealers have had a pretty good year so far with sales up 21% through August for a total of 450 cars.

apx00004

Lotus Engineering’s aluminum intensive 2006 APX crossover concept.

The fact that American consumers will have to make do with old stock is really nothing new in Lotus history. The company has almost always had spotty distribution and a weak dealer network in the States. Following Chapman’s death the company went through a number of U.S. distributors, though I believe currently American distribution is handled by a wholly owned subsidiary.

The number of dealers in the U.S. and worldwide will be one issue that new Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales will be addressing, according to an interview he gave with  Automotive News Europe. Talking about the Hethel based specialist and engineering firm’s dealer situation, Gales’ comments bear light on Tim Cain’s TTAC post about Lotus’ weak sales in the UK.

“Even in the UK we don’t have enough dealers. If you look in London there is not a single one. There is no dealer in Paris, no dealer in Madrid, none in the north of Italy, none in Hamburg, none in Berlin,” he said. “Our sales network basically did not provide enough coverage for our sales ambition.”

The plan is to follow the addition of nine new Lotus stores around the world in the last six months, including in Iran and the Philippines, with up to 20 new dealerships this fiscal year.

apx00006

Gales also said that the current lineup of the Elise, Exige and Evora will continue. “The current range has still got a lot of life left,” Gales said, though he stressed that he company will be focusing on making those cars lighter and faster. New models based on Lotus’ scaleable platform made of bonded aluminum extrusions will be introduced “in the next two years”.

Though the Lotus CEO never mentioned the word Porsche, he also indicated that the company may be following the German sports car maker in offering profitable vehicles that aren’t sports cars, saying that Lotus brand values that use lightweight practices to produce fun, engaging driving dynamics along with good fuel economy don’t just need to be restricted to sports cars. “These values can be attached to any segment you can imagine,” Gales said. He was more specific with Autocar, telling them that a Lotus crossover or sedan is very much on the table.

apx00008

While the notion of a Lotus sedan or worse, a crossover, seems to depart from what the brand means, it should be pointed out that at the time of founder Colin Chapman’s death, Lotus was working on an executive four door sedan. Also, in 2006, Lotus Engineering showed the APX, the Aluminium Performance Crossover as a showcase for Lotus’ Versatile Vehicle Architecture.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

8 Comments on “Amid All That Bad News, Lotus Sales Are Actually Up 46%, Sedan & Crossover ‘On The Table’...”


  • avatar
    VoGo

    Lotus Crossover = oxymoron.

  • avatar
    ...m...

    …nonsense: lotus’ flagship elite at the apex of chapman’s glory days was a large four-seat luxury hatchback equipped with an automatic transmission, and they’ve never shied away from engineering vehicles for all manner of use cases, like the APX project pictured above…the only oxymoron was four years pumping copious debt into badge-engineered marketing exercises, rather than focusing on lotus’ inherent engineering prowess…

    …if lotus builds another crossover, you can count on it exhibiting exemplary driving dynamics…

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, stick to a coupe and a CUV, sedans are redundant for the most part in the face of the CUV. In a perfect world sedans could be eliminated and replaced by coupes and CUVs. Selling a common platform sedan and CUV *without* a coupe option as is commonplace, is downright stupid IMO. CUVs are hatchback sedans with styling problems, period.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    That’s the best looking Exige I’ve ever seen. It seems to be channeling Pininfarina Ferraris of the ’70s and ’80s. As for the APX, I’m not buying a car designed by someone too stupid to know I might want to see out of it. People that devoid of a grasp of the obvious already drive Evoques anyway.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    US needs to adopt whatever legal standards that enable companies like Ariel and Cateram to sell their cars in the US. Makes no sense that I can ride a motorcycle (in some states with no helmet), but can’t register and drive a Lotus Elise due to “crash standards”. Some folks are willing to sacrifice safety for driving engagement and performance.

  • avatar
    James2

    I’ve always thought Hyundai-Kia should buy Lotus so the Brits could teach the Koreans a thing or two about chassis dynamics. The pairing would not be too unusual as Isuzu once powered a front-drive Lotus.

    • 0 avatar
      ...m...

      …furthermore, kia picked up continuation rights to the M100 elan after lotus discontinued production in the mid-nineties, so there’s already precedent for a relationship there…no, the greatest problem lotus faces isn’t that their assets and expertise are unattractive to other automakers, but rather that they assumed way too much debt under bahar’s exuberant mismanagement…

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Corey Lewis: Where, in your opinion, should details come from? Spec sheets that say the same thing but are harder to...
  • kjhkjlhkjhkljh kljhjkhjklhkjh: 30% of the country is a bunch of 8th grade literate humpsticks who are science hating...
  • akcaptruth: Speaking of embarrassingly derivative, whole sections of this article are directly cribbed from the...
  • 28-Cars-Later: “Seems like Japanese cities would be a pretty compelling market” Perhaps the Japanese are...
  • 28-Cars-Later: Perhaps though if you are correct I’d say that’s it for the segment since those Teslas...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber