There’s a new player in the electric car market this year, but its long-term plans don’t necessarily include trying to unseat other brand’s stake in the burgeoning market.
AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
This carbon-fibered, mid-engined rocket ship was not only a very capable street car, but was also a very successful racing car, winning many races in the FIA GT Championship, not to mention impressive results at the Sebring 12-hour race and at the LeMans 24-hour race.
There truly has been no American car to have accomplished what this car did in its short life time, so what many had been wondering is, will there be a sequel?
It’s hard out there for a sports car manufacturer, especially if it is owned by a larger company.
Over the last 17-years, Lotus has not made a profit for its parent company. That was not such a big deal since Lotus was seen as more of a high-class brand name for the Malaysian state-owned Proton. However, just earlier this year, Proton sold its 42.7% stake in Lotus to DRB-Hicom, one of the largest private companies in Malaysia. Generally, private companies are much more concerned with making a profit rather than owning a company just for its prestige.
Now word comes from Lotus CEO Dany Bahar, that the future of Lotus’ production is in jeopardy, as development for new models like the updated Esprit have been suspended. In fact, Bahar was “completely taken aback” when he learned at the Geneva Auto Show, that the entire Proton group would enter a three-month “lockdown.”
That means, only normal trading activities would be allowed, hence all future developments have been suspended. This lockdown will even effect its recently announced models like the Exige S and the Evora GTE. The new Esprit will now likely be pushed to a 2014 launch, which means the concept would be nearly five-years old when it hits the road.
That is, if DRB-Hicom even decides to keep Lotus. Rumors suggest that they will want to off-load the unprofitable Lotus brand, which means Bahar has to find a savior for Lotus very quickly.
For now, Lotus’ motor sport activities, the opening of their new showroom on Regent Street in London, and its participation at this years Goodwood Festival of Speed as the featured marque will continue. Let’s hope Lotus can survive through its current dilemma.
GALLERY: Lotus Esprit
German auto giant Volkswagen is already Europe’s largest auto manufacturer, but it won’t rest until it becomes the worlds largest producer of cars.
To achieve its goals, it needs to do very well in America, a market where it hasn’t made a profit since 2003, despite moving 256,830 units in 2010.
VW wants to sell three times as many cars to American households, roughly 800,000 units per year. To achieve this vast goal, Volkswagen groups CEO for America, Jonathan Browning says he wants to increase the number of dealerships.
Currently there are about 600 VW dealerships in America, and while that number will remain the same for the next few years, Browning says that by 2014/15 he hopes to add dealers across the nation to meet their goals.
VW looks set to shift 300,000 units for 2011. Browning adds that 2011 will once again return a profit for this German brands operation in the U.S.
There was a time, some 35-odd years ago, when the only engines found under the hood of a Volvo were four-cylinder units. Some were naturally aspirated, and some were boosted via a turbo-charger.
However, due to the demands and pressures from customers and share holders, Volvo started producing five-cylinder, six-cylinder engines. They even got Yamaha to design and build them a V8.
But that is all about to change for its future. According to industry sources, Volvo will not be employing any engine larger than a four-cylinder by 2020. Volvo is looking to develop a line of three-cylinder and four-cylinder motors. To get extra power, they will be turbo-charged, and diesels are also on the menu card.
This new engine line is dubbed VEA for Volvo Environmental Architecture. The idea is to reduce green-house emissions via smaller, lighter engines.
These new engines will start appearing by 2013 in a Volvo model near you.
[Source: Automotive News]
Given the short-tenure focus of most US corporations these days, it’s difficult to say at this point, but as one of the oldest nameplates in the business, Ford’s luxury brand definitely deserves a chance.
By installing a core group of executives to run Lincoln, many with international experience and declaring that it’s willing to spend real money on the tooling needed to provide the brand’s vehicles with signature styling outside and in, Ford appears to be moving in the right direction.
Other ideas on the table include eliminating gear levers in all Lincoln vehicles in favor of push buttons, as well as cutting the number of dealers nationwide, down to around 325, which rivals the number of Mercedes-Benz stores in the US.
Additionally, Ford is talking about courting new customers with Lincoln, a sub-set of younger, more affluent buyers than its traditional client base; the result could be a proliferation in product offerings, possibly GT cars and even convertibles.
This so-called sub-set of buyers represents around 25 percent of the luxury market in the US and, currently, the fastest growing in the segment. As a result, the opportunity is there for Lincoln to achieve great things, provided Ford sticks to its plan of creating a ‘proper’ luxury brand.
Look for the first idea of what the “new Lincoln” is all about with the debut of the 2013 MKZ at the Detroit Auto Show in January. One hint that’s slipped out is the MyLincoln Select Drive system, that allows for adjustable suspension, steering and throttle settings.