Lotus surprised many at the 2010 Paris Auto Show by unveiling a range of new sports car concepts, all of which, at the time, were claimed to be headed for production.

But quietly, the automaker from Hethel also announced plans for a new minicar to be called the Ethos that would be based on a model currently being developed by Proton, Lotus’ Malaysian parent company.

According to the duPont Registry, the Lotus Ethos will eventually be sold in the U.S., though not until late 2013 or possibly even the year after that.

Pricing is expected to start at roughly $45,000, which would make it cheaper than the outgoing Elise though still considerably expensive for a minicar.

2010 Proton Emas Concept

2010 Proton Emas Concept

As mentioned, the Ethos is being developed jointly with Proton, which will launch its own version of the car based on the Italdesign Giugiaro styled Emas Concept first shown at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show. You may recall that the Emas was presented with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain originally engineered by Lotus.

Like the Aston Martin Cygnet, which itself is based on the humble Toyota iQ, the Ethos would be built in Malaysia by Proton before being shipped in stripped down form for finishing by Lotus’ crew at Hethel.

However, while the Cygnet is sold primarily on its merits of high-end luxury, the Ethos would be marketed for its advanced drivetrain and Lotus engineering. Previously, Lotus CEO Dany Bahar said the Ethos could be sold as either a pure battery-electric or as a plug-in hybrid, meaning there may be changes before sales start, or Lotus may offer two versions of the car.

If it proves popular enough, production could range as high as 1,500 to 1,800 units annually.

However, we wouldn't recommend holding your breath waiting for it just yet.