For any business to function it needs to produce a product or service, sell it to customers, develop new offerings and promote them in order to generate demand. It also needs working capital to pay its suppliers, develop its staff and motivate all involved in its organisation to outperform its competitors. Lotus appears to be doing none of these, and to all intents and purposes is like a patient ‘surviving’ on life support – not ‘living’ – because that would involve actually getting up and doing something, but surviving – as in artificially being kept alive.
An interesting press release arrived on our desks last night with a message from Dany Bahar, Chief Executive Officer of Group Lotus Plc. Presented in the form of a faux-interview by Lotus PR Manager Liz Brooks, we’re told this is the first in a series of regular updates on the progress of Group Lotus towards achieving its 5-year plan.
Now this is what I’d like to see coming out of the Lotus Customisation Programme, alas the Evora Enduro GT is a product of Lotus Motorsport and intended for endurance racing.
It’s getting way too easy being cynical these days whenever Lotus makes an announcement about a new car – but this time it’s not some botox-infused New Era model, instead it’s that old favourite – the Elise – which some critics had begun to think the company had forgotten.
If you’ve read any of my recent articles then you’ll know that I’m full of admiration for Lotus’ out-of-the-box mindset to reinvent their brand and widen its appeal to new audiences.
This morning at the Autosport International Show Caterham revealed their first all-new model in over 20 years – the SP/300.R is a joint project between Caterham and Lola Cars that they describe as “..the perfect alchemy of British engineering superiority and rich motorsport heritage”.
I received a heads-up early last week when Steve Hindle, ex-Motorsport Manager for Westfield Sportscars, contacted me and mentioned Lola and Caterham were definitely getting together soon to produce something along the lines of Westfield’s XTR.
It is perhaps ironic that Caterham face a similar challenge to their erstwhile neighbours up the road at Lotus, as they look towards the future shape of their model range. Just like Lotus they have a loyal and fanatical customer base whom the company depends on for their current success, but the relationship can sometimes been a fragile one – some of the core enthusiasts have been around longer than the current management team and take it upon themselves to regularly remind them of their responsibilities to the marque.
After more than a decade of Elise-based production it’s easy to forget that Lotus was once known as a supercar maker, rather than purveyors of light-weight track-ready sports cars. Whilst many of us hold reservations about Lotus’ New Era strategy, one point that cannot be argued against is that they needed a change of strategy.