Like the Branch Davidians siege, Lotus has killed off the Elise, Exige and Evora. The trio of lightweight sportscars was a Lotus staple diet and lasted way past the use-by date. That being said, the Elise, Exige and Evora were and will always remain true driver’s cars. But technology trends and new ownership signal it is time for Lotus to move on. The Elise launched in 1995 and while the model evolved over the ensuing years, the underlying chassis was a barely modified upgrade from the original 1995 chassis. So in real terms, the Elise is virtually unchanged for over 25 years except for the design language. The Elise evolution saw the arrival of the Exige, which was truly worthy of the Lotus DNA.
The Evora launched in 2008 using a Toyota sourced V6 and was considered a Porsche 911 rival, and in many ways it was. However, in modern automotive manufacturing very few vehicles last beyond a seven-year product lifecycle. The Evora is 12 years old and in that time the Porsche 911 has been through three new generations. And that is Lotus’s problem. Aging gracefully and being propped up by a loyal motoring media is not the way to compete against the likes of Porsche.
If the British motoring media had its way, they would encase Lotus in formaldehyde and continue to write glowing articles. But that was just one issue Lotus faced with its aging model lineup. The main issue for Lotus was falling sales due to a lack of dealerships. Lotus nearly crashed and burned a few years ago, however in 2017 Chinese communist capitalism rescued the company from the hole it was itself digging into.
Geely Automotive is investing heavily into Lotus, new facilities and manufacturing capabilities will see a new generation of sports cars emerge from the flatlands of Norfolk. The as-yet seen but heard about Type 131 will mark a new electrified beginning for Lotus.