Lotus To End Elise and Exige Sales in the U.S

It is definitely an end of an era for Lotus, the lightweight mid-engined purveyor of cars hailing from Britain. Lotus stole the Paris Auto Show last year with its dramatic introductions of five different concept models. The debuts startled the automotive press, as Lotus kept them all under wraps prior to unveiling.

While it is unlikely that every one of the cars introduced will it to production, they did show off a different strategy for the company than the one it was pursuing.

While in the 1980s and 1990s Lotus made the exotic Esprit, in recent years it revived itself following the lightweight philosophy of its founder Colin Chapman. Cars like the Elise and Exige have made Lotus what it is today. Now, that focus is changing.

Autoblog reports that Lotus is going to stop the sale of Elise and Exige models in the United States. This decision isn’t due to change in direction though. Instead it is because of a federal law. Until now, Lotus has been operating under an exemption to a federal “smart airbags” requirement.

This year the waiver ends for manufacturers like Lotus and Lamborghini (who previously needed the waiver, but says its vehicles now meet the standards). This exemption expiring could also raise issues for Tesla and its Roadster 2.0, which is based on the Elise and uses the same airbag system.

That isn’t the only issue however; the Exige and Elise are powered by Toyota’s 2ZZ four-cylinder engine, which is ending production. To continue sale in the U.S, a new engine would have to be sourced that is certified for our market (emissions and the like), along with the cost and complexity of reengineering the airbag system.

Sales of the car will continue in the United Kingdom and European countries with a new 1.6-liter engine. The next Elise doesn’t arrive until 2015however, which will leave a big gap for sales of the Elise on our shores.

Tony Pimpo

Tony Pimpo

Automotive Editor
Tony Pimpo is a young automotive journalist who lives in Northern California. He believes the future of the automotive industry will depend in a large part on the recommendation of enthusiasts and Generation Y. More than ever, automakers lately have realized the power of Gen Y. Not only in regards to buying power, but in driving opinion and spreading a brand’s message through the internet and various forms of social media. His appreciation for cars formed at an early age, thanks to his dad, who has always been involved with cars in different ways over the years. Tony has contributed to various websites in his pursuits, and is on staff at GMInsideNews, where he has been writing since the age of 12.
Tony Pimpo

@tonypimpo

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