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Throwing a curve ball right down the media’s throat, Lotus issued a press release today that aimed to disarm and diffuse the flurry of speculation and jokes.
It did so by writing in completely unacademic, and some might argue, unprofessional style. Above the text, a borrowed copy of Sniff Petrol’s satirical photo (seen above) that portrays CEO Dany Bahar as “Baghdad Bob,” Iraq’s ex-information minister notorious for insisting things were fine.
Here’s a quick recap of what lead into today’s hilarious SNAFU.
Providing little more than an unusual image of a hat tan, bikini top, and a bottle of sunscreen(seen above), Lotus says, “Our philosophy has always been ‘less is more’. Now, with a display of true fighting spirit, we’ll take this one step further in Geneva.”
Providing a riddle, Lotus used ‘who’, ‘where’, and ‘when’ descriptors to identify the time and location of the Lotus press conference at Geneva. As for the ‘what’, it is “something breezy, something loud, something ice-cold, and some other interesting elements.” Finally, Lotus answers to ‘why’ with, “because we’ll blow the top off.”
To complement the exciting Geneva announcement, Lotus CEO Dany Bahar is engaged in a project to completely redefine the legendary British sports car company, though his ambitions have been hindered by more challenges than most.
Last month, Lotus’ Malaysian parent company Proton sold 43 percent of its shares to DRB-Hicom. DRB-Hicom currently continues its process to acquire Proton and Lotus completely. According to Malaysian law, the process for a change-of-ownership requires 60 days, during which time Lotus will not have access to Proton’s funds.
Despite this setback, Bahar told Autocar that Lotus will have complete support from DRB-Hicom, “We have explained our plans to the new owner, and have been told to keep going as we are. The immediate problem is to manage the cash in the business carefully during the 60-day pause, but I am confident that this is a technical issue.”
Of alleged suitors and the state of the Lotus brand aside from their parent company’s sale, Bahar also said to the best of his knowledge, nobody was about to buy the the brand.
“You’d have to consider the market implications before deciding to sell. Right now, we have crazy demand for the latest Exige– 383 orders already. The Evora GTE will be homologated by May, and we have 200 orders for that. Things are looking promising. Our new gearbox is on the dyno and our new V8 supercar engine is running and progressing on schedule. We will have supercar prototypes to test in May. We’ve spent so much money already that it would be silly to write it off.”
As for the murky message, we’re assuming that Lotus will be revealing a convertible. More details will be provided when time gets closer to Geneva.
GALLERY: Lotus Evora GTE
Dany Bahar, the current CEO of Lotus is reportedly looking for a buyer to purchase the company from current Malaysian parent Proton.
Given that Proton itself was recently acquired by Malaysian conglomerate DRB-Hicom, the reason for Bahar’s strategy is probably the fact that DRB has little interest investing in a small volume specialty sports car brand, especially since Lotus hasn’t earned a profit since being originally acquired by Proton in 1996.
At present, Lotus requires funding of around £500m ($790 million) for the development of future street cars, which includes new Elan, Elise and Esprit models.
So far, no offers for purchasing Lotus have been confirmed, though some sources say that Genii Capital, the international investment firm which currently owns the Lotus Formula 1 Grand Prix team, would seem the most likely scenario, though reportedly a number of Chinese companies have also expressed interest.
[Source: Auto Express]
Rumors of the sale of Lotus by its Malaysian parent company Proton have increased steadily since the appointment of CEO Dany Bahar, who has done little to dissuade the rumors. Rather than a sign of instability, Proton has committed to funding the “new Lotus”, and Bahar’s actions have helped keep the small sports car maker in the headlines.
The latest rumor mongering comes from AutoCar, which quotes Bahar as admitting, “Proton could sell Lotus.” In an interview Bahar outlines three clear paths proton could take, “Proton could keep Lotus, float it off or sell it outright.”
Far from speculating, Bahar is simply spelling out reality, commenting that, “It would be quite understandable if an owner that has invested so much wanted to see a return on its investment, especially if the buyer were a major car maker that could back Lotus for the long term.”
Any return on investment won’t happen, however, until Bahar has built Lotus into a desirable company, one that makes money and one that sells cars consumers really want to buy. At last year’s Paris Auto Show, Lotus unveiled its plan for the future, with numerous new models starting with the Esprit, which is set to launch next year.
GALLERY: Lotus Esprit Concept
Fans of Formula 1 racing and Lotus must have spent this year feeling a bit confused regarding who they should support, since there were two teams going by the name Lotus.
There was Team Lotus, a private team founded by Tony Fernandes (who also owns Caterham Cars), and then there was Group Lotus which was run by Lotus (the guys who make the cars) and their parent company Proton.
The two teams fought over the naming rights. Group Lotus said that the name Lotus belongs to them, while Team Lotus said that their name has always operated in motorsports as a separate entity to the road car business.
Who gets what naming rights was up to the courts to decide, and the verdict is in. Group Lotus is to keep the rights to the Lotus name in motorsports, which means they now own the rights to the Team Lotus name also.
In what is being described as a amicable settlement between the two parties, the former Team Lotus, which is also owned by 1 Malaysia Racing Team, will rename themselves as the Caterham F1 Team for the 2012 season.
Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar said at the announcement that, “On behalf of Group Lotus and Proton, I would like to express how pleased we are that this matter is finally closed and we can now focus on looking forward to the future.”
The new deal will also lead to a working relationship between the two parties over future automotive projects.
Caterham, a company that started out life as a Lotus dealer, who got the manufacturing rights to the Lotus 7 and has been producing the car for over 30 years now, will now be its own force in Formula 1. Recognition of the Caterham brand will thus grow on a global scale.
In a fit of corporate community outreach, Lotus hired Swizz Beatz (Kasseem Daoud Dean) to head Lotus’s Creative Design department, which may sound like the plot to a screwball 80′s comedy (Gung Ho meets Trading Places?) but actually came with a press release.
The rapper and hip-hop producer wasn’t just chosen to become Lotus’s spokesman—no, he is officially the vice president of Creative Design and Global Marketing, a position which comes with free coffee in the Lotus corporate break room. Turns out, Mr. Beatz is an avid car collector, with a Spyker C8 and a Ferrari Enzo in his stable, but presumably not a 1978 Eclat 22. He joins Victoria Beckham in the position of unlikely celebrity executive, where she is the creative design executive for Land Rover.
In the video after the jump, Lotus explains what he’ll be expected to bring to the table. But what makes Swizz Beatz the perfect man for the Norfolk company? “Three little facts,” Lotus says:
1. Like Group Lotus , he means business: He’s a risk taker with considerable credentials including music producer, rapper, designer AND painter.
2. Like our cars, he’s multi award winning: This year he shared a Grammy Award with Jay-Z.
3. Like Group Lotus he keeps good company: This man regularly works with the likes of Bono, Kanye West, Beyoncé and Alicia Keys.
Swizz Beatz is a stepping stone to other famous artists—which Lotus hopes, not unlike a comely teenage girl who waits outside the jock quarterback’s locker after classes, will net them even more friends and that vaunted 18-34 demographic that marketing people keep talking about. What better way for Lotus to convince hip-hop moguls to replace their Maseratis and Bentleys and Maybachs…hold on, scratch that last one. Biggie might not have fit in an Exige, but Yeezy could. Whether he actually wants to is up to Dany Bahar’s salesmanship and size-11 Loakes.
But we wish Lotus well, of course. After all, they are merely adhering to Colin Chapman’s previously-truncated quip: “simplify, and make it rain, dogg.”
Lotus has officially confirmed the use of its own V8 engine which will first be featured in the 2013 Esprit. Lotus is following its ‘New Era’ plan to launch five new models with less reliance on Toyota engines.
Lotus decided last Christmans to design and develop its own V8 engine. Chief executive of Lotus, Dany Bahar understood the reoccurring frustrations of customers asking ”how can you justify a £100,000 car with a Toyota engine?”.
Bahar also would not comment on how much the development program cost. “I’m not going to tell you whether it cost £40m, £60m or £70m, but the engineering result will be worth it.”
The V8 powerplant was put together in less than a year and the first test drive with the engine will take place on August 18,2011. The engine will power the 2013 Lotus Esprit, however it could be used for racing before then. The engine will be built in Norfolk, England and will be quite powerful. The 90 degree, 4800cc V8 will produce 562-hp at 9000rpm and the turbocharged R model will crank out 612-hp.
Gallery: Lotus Esprit
Ever since the Lotus Esprit V8 went out of production in 2004, Lotus has been exclusively using Toyota engines for its cars. While these motors have provided power and reliability, many customers of the brand feel that the company should have its own engines. After all, can you imagine a Ferrari being powered by anything other than their own engines?
Dany Bahar, CEO of Lotus agrees and wishes to develop engines bespoke for its automobiles. Since Lotus is delaying the Elan, the funds earmarked for that car can now be used towards developing new engines.
Bahar said, “This is a big [financial] hit because it’s expensive to do an engine. But because the Elan is not happening now we have got capital expenditure headroom for engine development.”
The work on these new engines has already began, and the first prototype V8 should breathe into life by this July. Power output is expected to be around the 570-hp mark, to compete with the likes of Ferrari.
The push for these new engines came from an internet survey Lotus conducted in which 10,000 people took part. The majority favored Lotus to put their efforts behind their own engines.
The plan is to design a modular V8 which can spawn a four-cylinder engine also for use in the next Elise. However, if that doesn’t work out, they will continue using Toyota engines.
Expect the first of the new breed of Lotus road cars to hit the streets by 2013.
What season of F1 would be complete without the off-track drama? The complex battle between racing teams Group Lotus and Team Lotus rages on, indicating that the previous ruling for the rights to the Lotus name didn’t end the dispute yet.
Turns out, the high court judge had given Group Lotus the go-ahead to use the Lotus roundel, the “Lotus” name, and the retro-tastic black-and-gold livery. But it hadn’t entirely ruled out Team Lotus’s involvement in the sport, and parent company 1Malaysia Racing Team can still use the name and logo “Team Lotus.” This, for Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar, is a problem.
And as such, he is planning to appeal the ruling and eliminate the confusion: “it is inevitable that the similarity of the names Lotus and Team Lotus will cause confusion not only amongst F1 supporters and the wider public,” he said, “but also amongst F1 commentators who use the word ‘Lotus’ interchangeably for both teams.”
We hope this plays out with a clear winner on top, because what’s the plural of Lotus, anyway? Loti? Lotusesses?
Lotus impresario and well-coiffed CEO Dany Bahar has denied reports that he’s planning to divorce Lotus from its Malaysian parent company Proton—right after he mentioned that, well, he might.
During a recent interview, Bahar mentioned that he wanted to bring Lotus up to Porsche-killing standards, and in order to do so, he would have to leave Proton behind and shack up with a bigger sugar daddy, one capable of treating Lotus right. That company, he suggested, was Toyota: given Lotus’s now-tradition of using their engines, it only made sense.
But according to Bahar himself, “Proton has played, and continue to play, a crucial role in our development.” His vision for Lotus’s five-year plan includes Proton every step of the way, including Proton’s help in securing funding for Bahar’s next two-door/mid-engined/aluminum-spaceframe sedan/SUV/Cayman-killer GT/track-ready city car project.
“We have an incredibly strong relationship with Proton, they support us 100 per cent and frankly this is really important for a company like ours,” said Bahar.” Part of the business plan is the joint development of a global small car platform meaning that for the first time in the Proton Lotus history, the relationship will be mutually beneficial. This alone should demonstrate how close we are.”
Let’s hope that pre-nup’s still valid.
Lotus CEO Dany Bahar has made numerous changes to the storied British brand since he joined the company in 2009 and he’s not done yet. In a recent interview he made known his desire to see Lotus split off from its current Malaysian owner Proton, in search of a major global automaker – like Toyota.
According to Bahar, Lotus will need a partner in order to offset the cost of meeting strict new emissions ratings and crash tests. If a partner can’t be found, Lotus could look at spinning off into a private company with publicly traded stock.
Rumors of a tie-up with Toyota are only too easy to generate with both automakers sharing a long-term partnership, with Toyota supplying engines in cars like the Elise since 1994.
Bahar’s plan is to build up Lotus as a serious rival to Porsche, with total sales reaching anywhere from 6,000 to 8,000 units annually by around 2015. In order to achieve this significant growth Lotus has already unveiled its New Era plan to develop several new models including a new Elise, an Esprit and even a possible city car, among others.
According to a report by Inside Line, the company is developing a new aluminum tub to be shared across these models, which weights 220-lbs less than the 520 lb one used in the Evora.
While the upcoming Lotus Esprit has been announced using a supercharged version of the Lexus IS-F’s 5.0-liter V8, that may all change when the new high-powered exotic comes to market in 2012.
Lotus CEO Dany Bahar, in an interview with AutoCar, commented that the storied British sports car maker is now examining the possibility of building its own V8. “The engine is the heart of a sports car; we should do our own product,” said Bahar.
One of the main factors in pushing Lotus towards this decision was customer feedback. “In the mind of sports-car enthusiasts, Toyota power might not be good enough,” he admitted.
Still, Lotus has yet to move ahead with a costly engine development program and won’t make any decision on if it will do so until January with Bahar commenting that the decision would be purely financial.
Recently Lotus announced it would run cars powered by its own engines in the 2012 Indy Car season, despite the fact that it currently does not build any of its own engines.
GALLERY: Lotus Esprit
Lotus engineering chief Wolf Zimmerman also revealed that the planned three-strong family of mid-engined Lotuses that will start with the Esprit will share a common platform, brakes, suspension and electrical systems.
Lotus has announced that it will join the big boys in 2012, racing against both Honda and Chevy in the Indy Car series.
Indy Car has seen its fan base diminish over the years and the fans called for an end of the spec series. Finally the governing body decided to take action, opening up the series to other engine manufacturers, and in 2012, new chassis manufacturers as well.
Recently Chevy announced it would return to Indy Car to compete with Honda (which has been the sole supplier of engines for the series over the past few ears). Now Lotus will do the same – although this news is somewhat perplexing as Lotus does not build its own engines, even for its road cars.
Executives didn’t comment on where the engines could come from, although it’s possible that the Lotus tie-up with Cosworth could be exploited. Another guess is that Toyota (which supplies engines for Lotus’ road cars) could be involved.
Today at the LA Auto Show, Lotus CEO Dany Bahar announced that Lotus will campaign its own engines and chassis in the 2012 Series. Bahar broke the news to reporters at the Lotus both, joined by INDY Car series head Randy Bernard and former Lotus driver Parnelli Jones.
Over the past year Lotus has campaigned a team in the Indy Car series, although as a spec series the move was largely entirely symbolic.
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Oh Lotus, you think you’re just so clever don’t you? With rumors flying that the British sports car company will be unveiling the next generation Esprit at this year’s Paris Auto Show, Lotus has just released these photos of company CEO Dany Bahar’s personal Lotus Esprit.
Along with a thorough detailing, Bahar’s Esprit received a fresh coat of Ice White Pearl. And…. well, that’s it.
While nothing has been confirmed you can bet Lotus will show the all-new Esprit in Paris. They even went to far as to point out that Bahar’s Esprit is a V8 model – suggesting the new Esprit will also sport a V8 (possibly the 5.0-liter from the Lexus IS-F). In addition, look for the new Evora S, a V6-powered Exige and two front-engine models.
GALLERY: Dany Bahar’s Lotus Esprit
[Source: Zer Customs]
Lotus has just announced the appointment of a new Chief Technical Officer, while subsequently confirming the departure of the recently hired Chief Operating Officer Frank Tuch. Tuch is leaving for Volkswagen, but not without importing important information to the team at Lotus. According to Lotus ECO Dany Bahar, “We were able to reach a mutually acceptable agreement with VW which still allows Lotus to continue to benefit from Frank’s considerable experience before his departure. Frank will also continue to work for Lotus as an adviser and we wish him the very best of luck in his new endeavour.”
As for the new CTO, Lotus has appointed Wolf Zimmermann, who formerly oversaw the engineering and technical strategy at Mercedes-Benz. The announcement of Zimmermann joining Lotus is just the latest in a long line of executive appointments that includes Bahar and Design Director Donato Coco (both from Ferrari) as well as several other execs from Porsche and Aston Martin. Lotus also recently signed on Bob Lutz as as a consultant, and is looking to do the same with recently-retired BMW-exec Tom Purves.
These moves are all part of a larger plan by Lotus that will see the company set itself up as a competitor to the likes of Porsche and Ferrari, focusing on more mainstream models and higher production volumes. This restructuring plan has already seen Lotus axe its entire dealer network.
Lotus will give a glimpse at its “New Era” at the Paris Auto Show where the automaker is expected to debut four new concept cars.
Official release after the jump: