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Lotus Esprit Supercar Due In 2014, Pending DRB-Hicom Approval

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Following its bizarre rant on Facebook last week and accusations that its CEO Dany Bahar was missing in action, Lotus is doing its best to clear all the confusion and remains committed to the launch of several new sports cars in the coming years.

It all started at the 2010 Paris Auto Show where Lotus unveiled no less than five new sports car concepts, all of which--perhaps prematurely--were confirmed for production.

The concepts were for a new Esprit supercar, Elite grand tourer, Eterne four-door coupe, Elan sports car, and a replacement for Lotus’ bread and butter model, the track-focused Elise.  

The first of these was meant to be the Esprit supercar, which Lotus said would be launched in 2013.

Since then the automaker has encountered several major hurdles, including the loss of the U.S. market for its Elise and Exige models, an over commitment to motorsports and the sale of its state-run parent company to a private firm.

Nevertheless, Lotus insists that its product plan is viable and that it can be profitable within the next four years should its existing funding allocation continue unhampered. That doesn’t mean the product plan won’t be changed along the way, as we’ve already seen with the Elan sports car being dropped in favor of Lotus developing its own bespoke engine. Previously Lotus planned to continue sourcing its engines from Toyota, however, this didn’t sit well with potential customers.    

Dany Bahar

Dany Bahar

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In a tell-all interview with CAR, Lotus CEO Dany Bahar has now revealed that the launch of the Esprit supercar has been pushed back to 2014 at the earliest due to work being stopped following the sale of Lotus’ parent Proton to DRB-Hicom.

Management at DRB-Hicom are still overlooking the financials of Lotus’ ambitious plans and are yet to give the approval, though work at Lotus’ headquarters in Hethel, UK, is said to have recommenced. Bahar revealed that test-mules fitted with Lotus’ new engine are already running around its test track.

Bahar went on to explain that if given the approval, further funding will be provided by Proton and not DRB-Hicom. He also revealed that he was surprised Proton was even sold as the company is on the verge of its own new product roll-out plan, which will include the launch of a new minicar that was styled by Giugiaro and could form the basis of the proposed Ethos minicar from Lotus.

As for its current lineup, which includes the Evora and Exige and their related variants, Bahar said Lotus has around 1,100 orders on its books and that last year the automaker’s sales were around 2,600 units. As for why he was missing in action recently, Bahar said he was meeting with distributors and dealers overseas to help expand Lotus’ sales network.

Lotus is certainly going through a very difficult phase at the moment but it is showing true fighting spirit in trying to keep its vision alive, and hopefully it can come out of the mess and once again build and sell some of the best sports cars on the planet.
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