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Lotus May Be For Sale Soon—Here's How We'd Save It

A hypothetical exercise in sports car company ownership.

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  • DNI_Lotus_H2_11-497
  • DNI_Lotus_H2_11
    Looks good to us.
  • lotus-palette-new
    Looks good to us.
    <p>It's still very much up in the air, but business experts say <a href="http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20111229/AUTO01/112290344/1148/Lotus-sags-spurs-sale-speculation">Malaysia's car maker Proton could be in a prime position to sell off Lotus Cars</a> now that the parent company is being spun off of its state-run roots. Anyone have a billion dollars we could borrow?<!--more--><p>Actually, while you could probably take Lotus off Proton's hands for a billion bucks or so, you're gonna need an extra few billion to invest if you want to do anything with it beyond tell your friends, "Hey, guess who owns a sports car company?" Lotus CEO Dany Bahar swears he can make the car maker profitable by 2014 as long as he has secure financial backing; considering <a href="http://www.0-60mag.com/news/2010/09/cars-lotus-brings-six-new-cars-to-paris/">the company plans six new models between now and 2015</a>, they're gonna need a Lockheed Martin-sized R&D budget, pronto.<P>It's all academic at this point, since Proton won't say they're putting Lotus on the auction block, but rumors of potential sales have been flying around for months—and considering Lotus hasn't made a profit for Proton in the 15 years since the Malaysian company bought it, we wouldn't be surprised if market forces compelled the no-longer-state-supported Proton to sell Lotus in order to gain some liquidity. But since it's all conjecture at this point, here's what we'd do if we had the Bruce Wayne bucks to pick up this British sports car brand.
  • lotus-story-lotus-elise-1
    Pictured: Lotus Elise
    <p><strong>Get the Elise and Exige's U.S. green cards back ASAP.</strong> The two lightweight sports cars who've kept the spirit of Colin Chapman alive <a href="http://www.0-60mag.com/news/2011/06/cars-lotus-elise-exige-lose-their-u-s-visas/">are no longer being imported to the United States</a>, due mainly to the closure of an NHTSA loophole. An all-new Elise is expected to arrive in 2014, but three years is too long to leave Lotus's heart and soul out of a key market like the U.S. <p>We'd try everything possible to engineer a quick patch to bring the Elise up to regulations...or find a loophole to bring them in another way.
  • lotus story_concept_5
    Pictured: Lotus Eterne Concept
    <p><strong>Kill the Elite and the Eterne.</strong> Lotus's current model plans include the Elite hardtop convertible <em>gran turismo</em> and the coupe-like Eterne sedan. While stunning, they're big, heavy models designed to compete with Porsche, Aston Martin and Ferrari—three companies you don't want to take on in a fight on their turf when you're still finding your way as a brand. <p>Trying to develop six new cars in the next few years is hopelessly ambitious in our mind, so we'd trim back the cars most antithetical to the Lotus name...even though it would hurt to kill such gorgeous cars.
  • lotus story graham_nearn & colin chapman
    Pictured: Graham Nearn and Colin Chapman
    <p><strong>Add lightness—and market the bejeezus out of it.</strong> "Simplify, then add lightness" was just the pithiest of Colin Chapman's guiding principles, but almost all of them revolved around making cars as light as possible. With every other sports car company racing to build the most powerful cars possible, Lotus should establish themselves as the people who value power-to-weight over sheer power by always building the lightest cars in their respective classes. Then they need to spend a couple hundred million dollars letting everyone on the planet know it. <p>Also, they should be sure to tell everyone that lighter cars are more fuel-efficient and better for the environment than heavier cars, because you'd be amazed how many people don't think of that.
  • lotus story bmw
    A perfect business pitch.
    <p><strong>Find a big car company to be your partner.</strong> These days, there's less room than ever for medium-sized car companies to survive on their own. (See: <a href="http://www.0-60mag.com/news/2011/12/cars-saab-automobile-dies-at-age-68/">Saab</a>.) To survive in the long term, Lotus either needs to become a company that makes a handful of boutique supercars at extravagant prices, or forge an alliance with a large car manufacturer who they can share technology and development costs with. Aston Martin and Mercedes-Benz have been flirting with a partnership for years; we say, follow their lead and try to work out a deal with BMW. <p>BMW is big enough to have plenty of leverage, but not so big that they'd try and buy you up entirely the way, say, the VW Group might. Hey, maybe you can help BMW recapture some of that Ultimate Driving Machine magic they lost back in the early 2000s. (And if that doesn't work...<a href="http://www.0-60mag.com/news/2011/06/cars-lotus-is-looking-for-a-sugar-daddy/">there's always Lotus's old friend-with-benefits Toyota</a>.)
  • lotus story city car
    Pictured: Lotus City Car Concept
    <strong>For God's sake, axe that minicar project.</strong> We're all in favor of following in Aston Martin's tire tracks, but one of the bonuses of being a cover band is that you only have to play the hits, not the bombs. Nobody asked for the Cygnet, and <a href="http://www.0-60mag.com/news/2010/12/lotus-will-have-a-minicar-in-2013/">nobody's asking for a Lotus version of the Smart car.</a>
  • lotus story esprit
    Pictured: Lotus Esprit Concept
    <p><strong>Plan a simple three-car lineup for 2014.</strong> Call it the "3-4-14" plan: three cars for 2014. A new Elise roadster, weighing in around 2,500 pounds and packing 300+ horsepower from a turbo four-cylinder. A new Elan or Evora sports car, with a mid-engined 400+ horsepower forced-induction six-cylinder. And a new Esprit super sports car, with a mid-engined 600+ horsepower turbo V8. Three cars, handily covering most of the sports car spectrum. <p>After a year or two, add on variants like a new Exige, <a href="http://www.0-60mag.com/news/2011/06/cars-lotus-wants-to-build-britain-fastest-car/">a Superleggera-esque Esprit</a>, and an Elan/Evora convertible. Then, once those are well-established, we can have the inevitable conversation about building an SUV.
  • Danger Ranger says:
    January 6, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    The Lotus of today seems to have taken a look at everything the company has done in the past, thrown out the good ideas, and green-lit successors to some of the old odd-ball projects and bad ideas. Four doors, GT cars, hatch backs, Porsche/Ferrari competitors, cars that weigh a lot... Those are all things Lotus has done in the past. Nobody cared when Lotus built them back in the day, and - SHOCK! - nobody cares for them now.

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