Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lotus: No Elan Until 2016 at the Earliest, More Evora Variants to Come In the Interim

Lotus: No Elan Until 2016 at the Earliest, More Evora Variants to Come In the Interim: "

Lotus will not sell a reborn Elan (pictured above) for at least five years, a spokesperson for the company told us today. A car bearing the Elan name—a two-seat, mid-engine coupe unveiled in concept form at the 2010 Paris auto show—was originally scheduled to launch in 2013 or 2014. According to that plan, the similar Evora would then be dropped from the Lotus lineup. But now the company says that the Evora, introduced in 2009, will be “allowed to have a more traditional life cycle.” This will extend for five to six years from now, and it remains possible that the Evora name will live into a second generation. If not, Lotus says, it’s Elan time. What isn’t clear from our conversations is whether this means the 2016 car is one vehicle with two possible names, or if Lotus is considering two different vehicle proposals, one for the Elan name and one for Evora II.

In any event, we should expect new variants of the Evora over the next several years, the company says. This includes the 345-hp Evora S and automatic-gearbox-equipped Evora IPS, both launching in 2011. These two models are welcome additions to the line, but they won’t pay the company’s bills. Lotus’s execs know this, and more tweaked Evoras are coming. The car was designed from the start to accommodate an open-roof version, and we could see that within a couple of years, too. Finally, we wouldn’t be shocked if Lotus followed its modus operandi for nearly every car it’s ever produced and introduced a lighter-weight, track-oriented Evora.

Until the Esprit (another of Lotus’s Paris debutants) arrives in 2013, the Evora alone will be responsible for carrying the Lotus brand. Production of the iconic and beloved Elise and Exige ends this summer. Even if the Esprit lands in showrooms on schedule—and Lotus assures us that the supercar is still coming in 2013—a substantial six-figure price tag will mean that the Evora has to account for most of the Lotus brand’s sales in the U.S.

Lotus trumpeted its plans for six models in Paris this past September, and we remain skeptical that the company can follow through. Building cars—even when major components like engines are sourced from other manufacturers—is time consuming and very, very expensive. And so the delay of the Elan comes as little surprise; our instincts tell us to expect similar announcements covering other Lotus projects, which include an Elite sports car, a four-door called the Eterne, and a wee city car.


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