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Although the onslaught of all-new Lotus products is still years away, the company is apparently plotting to inject some new blood into the company portfolio in advance of their rebooting as a brand.
The mid-size Evora will allegedly get a refresh in 2012, about a year after the new, more powerful Evora S debuts. The main focus of the updates will be the cabin, in an effort to bring them up to the standards of Porsche, Audi and Mercedes-Benz, the eventual targets for the new Lotus lineup.
Also rumored is a new Exige, which may debut at the Geneva Auto Show, although details have yet to be revealed.
Looking to perhaps grow the Lotus name in the land of exotics, Lotus has just announced a deal with Hertz Italiana S.p.A. to offer the new coupe for rent in Italy.
“I am delighted that Lotus has renewed this agreement with Hertz and we’ve been given the opportunity to make our stunning world class sports car available to the luxury rental market. The iconic, lightweight mid-engined rear wheel drive configuration performs like no other and the 2+2 seated Lotus Evora is the perfect choice for those who desire exclusive and high performance motoring. Driving an Evora during a weekend will be an unforgetable experience for any sports car enthusiast,” said Lotus CEO Dany Bahar.
In the past several U.S. rental car agencies offered the Elise to rent (and we took full advantage). We’d like to see the Evora at our local Hertz too!
Of all the automakers that offer winter driving schools, Lotus seems like the worst fit. With their famous British reliability and bare metal cabin surfaces, the prospect of driving a Lotus in freezing temperatures strikes us as a task fit for British masochists like Max Mosley.
But with Lotus’ re-branding, a new emphasis on the “lifestyle” aspects of the company and the Evora’s actual inclusion of fabric and leather interior trim pieces, taking one of the mid-engined supercars out for a jaunt in the snow may not be so punishing anymore.
At their new Finnish facility 60 km south of the Arctic Circle, guests will learn to deal with understeer, oversteer, steering and throttle techniques and also be able to partake in activities like ice fishing, snowmobiling and “reindeer driving”. We’d gladly pay the $2895 entry fee for that activity alone.
Lotus is readying plans to build two Evora hybrids but is waiting on funding for the project from the Technology Strategy Board, a publicly funded think tank in the United Kingdom.
The prototypes, known as the Evora 414E range extending hybrid, will go forward, with at least one being built. However Lotus needs additional funding to build a second example. Two motors, one in each rear wheel, will produce 207ps, or 414ps in total. The motors also use a one-speed transmission and will allow torque vectoring between each rear wheel. The car’s electric powertrain will be able to be charged via a regular household plug, or the on-board “generator” in the form of a 1.2L 3-cylinder gasoline engine producing 47 horsepower.
Lotus says the car will hit 60 mph in 4 seconds and can travel up to 35 miles solely on electric power.
Gallery: Lotus 414E Hybrid
Lotus Engineering has had inquiries from other manufacturers interested in using the Evora platform for their own applications. The use of other companies utilizing a Lotus chassis is not without precedent, as the Tesla roadster and Vauxhall VX220 were both based off the Lotus Elise.
The Evora is a good candidate for a small volume sports car maker, as it can fit a V6 engine in its compact dimensions, and can be configured as a 2-seater or 2+2, with a double wishbone suspension and aluminum construction. The chassis has also gone through the necessary crash test requirements, significantly reducing development costs.
As part of its attempt to re-position the brand as a competitor to Ferrari and Aston Martin, Lotus is axing its entire European dealer network in an effort to revamp the level of customer service provided by its sales centers.
Lotus CEO Dany Bahar alerted dealers that their contracts would not be renewed on July 18, 2012 (giving them two years notice, as per their contracts), however dealers are eligible to apply for a new contract under undisclosed terms. Lotus is expected to unviel their new strategy at the Paris Auto Show in September, but rumors say that they will abandon the hardcore “simplify and add lightness” mantra that has driven the company since its inception in favor of more luxurious Grand Touring cars. With the 2011 Elise able to get just under 40 mpg and emit minuscule amounts of C02 while still hitting 60 mph in 6 seconds, we’re pretty confident that Lotus would benefit from staying the present course.
We can already hear the cries of “sellout” from enthusiasts across the world. Lotus announced that they were abandoning their “lightweight and simple” design philosophy in favor of increasing volume and building more technologically advanced, luxurious and upmarket sports cars.
Proton, the Malaysian owner of Lotus, pledged in 1996 to make Lotus profitable within 5 years. Having failed to achieve that goal, the company has chosen a new direction. New models will feature advanced features like dual-clutch gearboxes, active suspension systems, hybrids and other alternative powertrains. Proton is hoping to increase sales from between 2000-2500 cars per year to 6000-8000 cars per year within five years.
True aficionados of the brand will be relieved to know that the current lineup will remain in place and untouched by the changes, but new models will adopt the brand’s new philosophy. If you want an Exige 240S, better get it now.
McLaren’s MP4-12C is the company’s first road-going 2-seater car. No, really. The British racing firm’s first effort, the McLaren F1, was famously equipped with a 3-seater configuration, with a drivers seat mounted in the center, and two bucket seats mounted on either side. A famous saying (sometimes attributed to F1 designed Gordon Murray) is that the 3-seater existed so that there was one seat for your wife, and one for your mistress.
With the MP4-12C, McLaren is back to the 2-seat configuration, but it may not be the sole option. Reports coming out of Germany say that a 2+2 variant is in the works, though its hard to imagine how McLaren will fit two more seats back there. Of course, the Porsche 911 and Lotus Evora are technically 2+2 cars, but in reality, the rear seats aren’t good for anything more than toddlers or golf clubs.
Lotus will cease production of the slow-selling Europa model later this year. Designed as a more refined option to the Elise and Exige twins, the Europa was also based on the same chassis. Introduced in 2006, it essentially filled a slot in the Lotus lineup until the Evora was introduced, filling a spot for a more comfortable and luxurious model. Proof that even Lotus execs thought it didn’t do a very good job as a placeholder was the fact that the British sports car maker never brought the car to North America.
According to a report by Autoblog, European Lotus dealers have stopped taking orders for the Europa, with the plant completing the current lineup of orders before the model is quietly dismissed.
As a “replacement” the Evora brings an all new and more civilized chassis to the Lotus lineup that is more likely to appeal to buyers of more traditional sports cars – like Porsches. It’s also larger, more luxurious and more expensive. After decades of offering niche market products, Lotus now appears to be ready to target a larger audience with more mainstream products. In fact, in a recent discussion with one Lotus exec, we were told that even the new Evora represents the “old Lotus.”
Read our review of the all-new Evora below
After announcing that the new flagship Evora sports car would be priced from $73,500, Lotus has now announced a slightly less expensive model will be offered. The cheaper model does lose a few things (two to be exact), but Lotus enthusiasts aren’t about to miss them. The items in question are the two rear seats, turning the 2+3 Evora into a 2+0. As for that new pricing, it’s set at $72,990. At the launch of the vehicle Lotus reps said the lower price hadn’t been announced previously as the Evora 2+0 models weren’t available until now.
The Evora itself, it is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine with 276-hp and can hit 60 mph in 4.9 seconds. Plus, in true Lotus fashion, it gets 18/27 mpg (city/hwy).
Official pricing details after the jump:
“Add lightness,” is the world famous maxim of Lotus founder Colin Chapman, and decades on, the British specialty firm rigidly adheres to their mantra, producing cars like the Elise, Exige and Evora that can hang with the world’s best supercars and still deliver terrific fuel economy, thanks to their featherweight construction and efficient powertrains.
But the sports car market is limited in its scope, and Lotus is looking to bring its trade secrets to the mainstream world. Lotus held a demonstration featuring a Toyota Venza that had been given a weight reduction treatment by Lotus, and the improved car was 38% lighter, excluding the drivetrain.
Despite retaining the same interior and exterior dimensions, as well as safety characteristics, the car used lighter interior pieces, climate control units and re-designed suspension components that allowed for more efficient packaging of the car, and exotic materials were kept to a minimum.
Lotus claims that lightweight cars will have a positive effect on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and boost fuel consumption, although no specifics were given. Lotus has collaborated with other manufacturers in the past, notably General Motors and Ford, but their projects have always been performance rather than economy cars.
[Source: World Car Fans]
Over the weekend, the first three of eight “Naomi for Haiti” special edition Lotus Evora sports cars were auctioned off, with the first car fetching $496,000. The vehicles, created by supermodel Naomi Campbell and Lotus Design Director Donato Coco, were auctioned off at the Fashion for Relief event held during Fashion Week in London with all proceeds going towards relief efforts in Haiti. Car number one was purchased by Campbell’s boyfriend Vladimir Doronin.
The second car sold for another huge sum, $430,000, while a third car fetched an undisclosed sum.
“I am incredibly grateful to everyone who has generously donated their time and effort to make Fashion For Relief happen,” said Campbell. “I’m thrilled with the support from Lotus and to have teamed up with my great friend Gino Rosato for this important cause. I hope we continue to raise as much awareness and funds as we can.”
Gino Rosato, Director of Corporate Affairs at Lotus Cars stated, “I am very proud to welcome my good friend Naomi into the Lotus family. We are delighted to be able to work together to raise money for such a worthy cause. The Fashion For Relief event has proven to be exceptionally successful and it is fantastic to be able to help the nation of Haiti.”
The remaining five “Naomi for Haiti” Evoras are being auctioned off at, www.naomiforhaiti.com.
Naomi Campbell will announced the total funds raised by the effort during the Lotus press conference at the Geneva Auto Show on March 2nd.
Official release after the jump:
Lotus has teamed up with supermodel Naomi Campbell to create eight limited edition Evora sports cars that will be auctioned off to help with relief efforts in Haiti. Campbell and Lotus Design Director Donato Coco created the unique paint scheme, which includes the colors of the Haitian flag.
All “Naomi for Haiti” Evoras will be auctioned off at Naomi Campbell’s Fashion Relief charity show on February 18th during London’s fashion week. Those vehicles not sold at the event will then go up on a special bidding, www.naomiforhaiti.com, website the following day.
Naomi Campbell will announced the total funds raised by the effort during the Lotus press conference at the Geneva Auto Show on March 2nd.
GALLERY: Naomi Campbell Haiti Relief Lotus Evora
Official release after the jump:
A filing by Lotus at the U.K. Patent Office has revealed that the British sports car maker is working on a dual-clutch transmission. The quick-shifting unit is reportedly a lighter unit than anything on the market and is a simpler design although you’d never guess it from the details of the patent filing, shown above and listed after the jump.
It’s hard to tell from the drawings as well, but this is a seven-speed setup with seven-forward gears and one reverse gear.
News of a dual-clutch setup from Lotus is exciting, as the quick shifting and fuel-efficient transmission technology certainly fits with the company’s overall philosophy. The option of a dual-clutch automatic transmission setup will also make Lotus models more accessible to even more drivers, something that will no doubt help Lotus sell more units.
No doubt camps within the manual-transmission-loving Lotus faithful will resist this new technology. The good news, however, is that it allows the automaker to become a bit more mainstream while retaining the brand’s hard-core identity.
It’s possible that this new dual-clutch setup could be for the upcoming Evora, which is currently only offered with a manual transmission. Alternatively, this setup might not be for Lotus at all, as the company’s engineering division is constantly working on new innovative products for other manufacturers throughout the world.
[Source: UK Patent Office via Jalopnik]
Read the Lotus dual-clutch transmission patent filing after the jump:
While the real stars of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance are the vintage autos, the Concept Lawn is a special place where future show-stoppers are put on display. While some of the models are actually concepts, many are rare coachbuilt models and a few are full-production cars.
In the concept category there was the luxury convertible plug-in hybrid, the Fisker Sunset, as well as the absolutely stunning Infiniti Essence Concept - a hybrid in it’s own right, making 600hp thanks to a 440hp twin-turbo direct-injection 3.7-liter V6 and a 160hp electric motor.
Included in the list of Coachbuilt creations was the edgy Corvette ZR1-based Stile Bertone Mantide. This is no kit car, however, as the vehicle was designed by Jason Castriota, the man who also penned the Pininfarina P4/5. Plus, it weights 220 lbs less than the ZR1 for even more performance.
Also on display was the Devon GTX (pictured above), arguably the arch-nemesis of the Mantide, as it is based on the Dodge Viper. With a more shapely body than the Mantide, the 650hp GTX is scheduled to attempt to set a new fastest lap time at the Nürburgring. No doubt there’s some ego involved in this announcement as Devon attempted to buy Viper from Chrysler but the deal was never completed.
In the production category cars ranged from the reasonably well priced (Lotus Evora) to the ridiculous (Bugatti Sang Bleu). The four-seater Lotus is scheduled to be released early next year, while the ultra-limited edition Bugatti is based on the convertible Grand Sport model. Other production or near production models included the Spyker C8 Aileron Spyder, V-10 powered Audi R8, the 750hp carbon-chassis Aston Martin One-77, a Morgan, the all-new 510hp 2010 Jaguar XJL Supersport, the Mercedes-McLaren SLR Stirling Moss and the Rolls-Royce EX200, aka, the Ghost. And who could forget the misplaced SMS 570X Dodge Challenger.
GALLERY: Pebble Beach Concept Lawn
We still have more than half of 2009 to go and already the list of 2010 North American Car & Truck of the Year nominees have been picked. That’s because the list is essentially a list of every new model for 2010.
Nominated for car of the year are: the Audi S4, BMW Z4, BMW 335d, BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo, Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon, Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Fusion, Ford Fusion Hybrid, Ford Mustang, For Mustang GT500, Ford Taurus, Ford Taurus SHO, Honda Insight, Hyundai Genesis Coupe, Kia Forte, Kia Soul, Lexus HS250h, Lotus Evora, Mazda3, MazdaSpeed3, Mercedes E-Class, Nissan Cube, Nissan 370Z, Porsche Panamera, Subaru Legacy, Suzuki Kizashi, Toyota Prius, Volkswagen Golf, Volkswagen Golf TDI.
The 2010 North American Truck of the Year list is only slightly shorter and includes: the Acura ZDX, BMw X5 xDrive 35d, Cadillac SRX, Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Transit Connect, GMC Terrain, Honda Crosstour, Land Rover LR4, Lincoln MKT, Subaru Outback, Toyota 4Runner and Volvo XC60.
Many off these vehicles have yet to be officially released and some (like the Honda Crosstour) haven’t even been officially named yet.
Jurors will now begin the lengthy process of making a short list, with the final winners chosen at the 2010 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Last year’s winners were the Hyundai Genesis and the Ford F-150.