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Group Lotus, the carmakers, and Team Lotus, the racing team, have been battling it out off the track over the rights to use the name “Lotus.” And in a decision awarded this weekend, Group Lotus has come out on top.
Team Lotus traces its lineage back to Colin Chapman’s original Formula 1 efforts in 1952, and along the way have racked up some of the most successful victories in the sport. But the original team folded in 1994, and after a succession of flagrantly useless owners (including F1 legend James Hunt’s surviving brother) Tony Fernandes relaunched the team in 2010.
But a year earlier, the Malaysian government—which controls a stake in Lotus’s parent company Proton—threw its own hat in the Formula 1 ring in an effort to promote Proton on the world stage. They picked an experienced team name that would garner respect among the racing community: Lotus.
Actually, Lotus Renault GP, as the team was built from the remnants of the Renault F1 team which was restructured in 2010. Neither team has a direct connection to the 1994 team, but Team Lotus is backed by Tony Fernandes, while Lotus-Renault is backed by Genii Capital and Group Lotus plc—as well as the estate of Colin Chapman, which expressed a desire for Team Lotus to die a peaceful death. The high courts have agreed to this, as well: in a decision made this weekend, judges allowed Group Lotus to use the name “Lotus” in future F1 races, as well as revoking Team Lotus’s trademarks.
There’s some good news to come out of this drama: what do the Lotus-Renault cars look like? Well, when you see them at Monaco this weekend, they’ll be sporting some familiar livery: the famous black-and-gold scheme made famous by John Player Special in the 1970s. Retro-tastic.
Earlier this year, Team Lotus, (a private company) has been in legal battle with Group Lotus (the manufacturer of Lotus cars) over the rightful use of the company’s name. Since the case is still in court, Lotus essentially has two teams in Formula-One at the moment.
Now news comes that Team Lotus wants to tie itself more closely with the Lotus brand by acquiring Caterham cars. As all car enthusiasts know, Caterham bought the manufacturing rights to continue producing the old Lotus 7 back in 1973 and ever since has been developing newer and faster versions of this basic sportscar.
If Team Lotus actually acquires Caterham cars, it will bring an interesting new twist to this automotive soap opera. Rumor is, a press conference will be held next week regarding this matter. We can’t wait to see this story unravel.
But the team says otherwise
In press release issued by Lotus Cars, the British exotic car maker takes issue with recent reports that a new Formula 1 team for 2010 will run under the banner of Team Lotus. The new team, however, says that’s not the case.
U.K.-based Litespeed Racing has already secured a sport on the 2010 F1 lineup and decided to run under the Team Lotus name, with the permission of the name’s rights-holder David Hunt.
When Lotus Cars Limited heard of this, it issued a release which clearly stated that, “Group Lotus plc will take all necessary steps to protect its name, reputation and brand image,” a thinly veiled threat that the automaker will seek legal action if Litespeed continues with its plans.
That all seems straightforward enough, except this morning a report in AutoSport suggests information to the contrary. An unnamed source inside the newly formed Team Lotus said, “We’ve kept Lotus fully informed of our intentions and are well aware of the need to protect its brand image. We look forward to having closer ties with it in the future.”
Is this all just a big misunderstanding, or is it possible that Lotus Cars has been made aware of Team Lotus’s plans and is not amused?
Dewar Trophy awarded for Lotus's Versatile Vehicle Architecture
Those engineers over at Lotus have received a pat on the back by industry experts in the U.K., as the company was recently awarded the Dewar Trophy by the Royal Automobile Club.
The Dewar Trophy is handed out each year for a “outstanding British technical achievement in the automotive field.” Lotus received the award for developing its Versatile Vehicle Architecture (VVA) chassis that underlies the upcoming Evora sportscar (pictured above).
What makes the VVA architecture so special isn’t just that it’s a light weight, but that is was created specifically to be used in different variants to be an equally capable and ideal platform for several different low to medium production number models (like the ones Lotus builds). Traditionally, a niche market vehicle requires an entirely new platform or the adaptation of an existing platform, two solutions that are either expensive or full of compromises. With the VVA chassis, Lotus has found a middle-road solution that will be the basis for the Evora as well as other future platforms.
“I would like to thank the Dewar Trophy Technical Sub-Committee for the award, and all at Lotus are most honored to receive this accolade,” said Mike Kimberley, Chief Executive Officer of Group Lotus plc. “It is a fantastic achievement for Lotus to win such a prestigious and recognized award for our Versatile Vehicle Architecture technology which is used in our stunning new Lotus Evora sportscar. This award is for everyone at Lotus; those who created the VVA technology, those who delivered the Evora engineering program and those who are building our car. With incredible hard work and dedication at Lotus, using this technology our excellent staff have delivered the Lotus Evora in 27 months from a clean sheet to the first production car driving off the line, a great achievement.”
“The automotive industry is changing fast, and technology needs to be robust, faster to market and more cost and mass effective than ever before,” continues Kimberly, “and Lotus will be there at the forefront of this exciting period for the future of personal transport.”
Official release after the jump: