Lotus in China, Malaysia and Indycars..


At this week’s Auto China motorshow in Beijing, Lotus have been showcasing a limited edition Evora GTE specially adapted for Chinese roads. Meanwhile new owner DRB-Hicom has confirmed the sportscar maker is not for sale – yet, and Lotus say they’ve raised their IndyCar commitment by reducing the number of cars it supports from five to three.

Welcome to the world of Lotus, where the news is never dull.

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Just 118 examples of the China Limited Edition Evora GTE will be put on sale, with each car featuring a numbered plaque inside marked with the China Limited Edition insignia.

The interior features more leather and carbon fibre, but according to Lotus the GTE’s performance remains undiminished. The same 444bhp 3.5-litre supercharged V6 engine provides the GTE’s motive power, making it the most powerful Lotus road car ever built.

When the Evora GTE was initially revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show last September, demand was so high that the company sold its planned 114 production schedule within days. Much of the demand came from China, hence the reason why Lotus chose to increase production and offer a special version for the car’s biggest market.

Lotus CEO Dany Bahar, was in China at the car’s launch, together with Lichen Zhang, President & CEO of Lotus China. “As the top potential market for sports car brands, China is a vital part of the five-year revival plan we announced 18-months ago. We are committed to bringing our unique products, distinctive style and rich history to China to provide Chinese customers with diversified and personalized product choices” said Bahar.

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Meanwhile back in Malaysia, new owners DRB-HICOM issued a denial that the famous British brand was for sale or about to go into receivership.

DRB-Hicom’s communications chief, Salaiman Yahya, said that contrary to reports, the British company will not be put into administration. It is currently undergoing an operations audit as part of the Malaysian business’s governance process, and did not know the source of speculation that it was selling the brand to China’s Youngman.

In a statement he said that DRB-Hicom was still supporting Lotus Group “both financially and management-wise” and confirmed that “DRB-Hicom has identified one of Proton’s senior management personnel to take up a position in Lotus Group in an effort to strengthen its management.”

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Finally, under the headline ‘Lotus Raises IndyCar Commitment’, the car maker seems to have done exactly the opposite.

Following the first three races of the season, Lotus undertook a strategic review of its position to decide what course of action would be in the best interests of IndyCar and the teams it supports. With the unanticipated difficulties caused by the widely reported change of ownership (to DRB-Hicom) and the subsequent restrictions on resources, the company has admitted that it was unable to continue supplying the regulatory ‘five’ engines during 2012.

Whilst their IndyCar engine has shown promise, it remains under-powered, compared to the opposition and minimal testing has resulted in reliability issues. Even so, a top ten finish has been an impressive start to their IndyCar campaign.

Consequently the company has made offers (of compensation) to Bryan Herta Autosport LLC and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing LLC to end their agreements, which means that Bryan Herta Autosport will no longer participate in any races as a Lotus team, whilst Dreyer & Reinbold Racing will race one more time in Brazil next weekend.

Randy Bernard, CEO of IndyCar has promised to help Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and Bryan Herta Autosport in securing engines for the remainder of the season, but he said “..he supported Lotus’ decision.”

Going forward, Lotus is excited to be working closely with Lotus HVM Racing, the original partner team and Lotus Dragon Racing, who delivered Lotus’ best result so far this season.

Claudio Berro, Lotus’ Director of Motorsport, said: “..I’m delighted with our solution and I can assure everybody that the actions were taken after careful consideration and will assist in ensuring the brand’s high racing ambitions and the high expectations of the IndyCar community are realised.”