Amid All That Bad News, Lotus Sales Are Actually Up 46%, Sedan & Crossover 'On The Table'
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.
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.
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.
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
Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, the original 3D car site.
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