Go big or go home. That was the philosophy that dominated Lotus’ thinking over the past few years. Bob Lutz was brought in to serve an advisory role and he deemed that the only plan to survive in the future. For years the automotive press has fawned over lightweight and fun models like the Elise and Exige.
That wasn’t enough to pay the bills though – Lotus isn’t profitable. The trouble began when Lotus’ owner, Proton, was in turn sold by its owner, the Malaysian government. Investment firm DRB Hicom swooped in with a controlling stake. Under Malaysian law, the purchase necessitated a freeze in “nonessential activities” at the company, resulting in a delay in new product. Then the architect of Lotus’ grand plans, Chief Executive Officer Dany Bahar, was terminated and allegedly involved in a scandal.
As you can tell, things have gone sour quickly. The latest in a string of bad news comes with an announcement that Lotus is pulling out of the Paris Motor Show. You might remember that Lotus stole the Paris show in 2010 with a surprise introduction of five concepts. The five models were the Elise, Elite, Eterne and Esprit. Given that the production and development stoppage caused delays, Lotus has nothing new to show off. Still, you’d have thought they still could have least been in attendance with their existing lineup – even if to save face.
Apparently not. DRB Hicom has only offered vague assurances about the future of Lotus. It appears as if they are weighing whether to fund the ambitious business plan, or sell the brand altogether. We’re afraid a middle path won’t be enough to generate the profitability they are looking for. One thing is true: Lotus is a lot more attractive to a potential buyer when it’s making money. We’re hoping the uncertainty about what its future is will fade soon and we can get to covering impressive new product. The Esprit supercar is in the works, as well as front-engined models like the Elite.