19 July 2019

The return of Lotus...

The unveiling of the Lotus Evija last week was interesting. The all-electric, 1972 hp hypercar, powered by four motors (one for each wheel), will have a top speed of over 200 mph and will accelerate from 0 to 60 in under three seconds, with a range of 250 miles. The cars will cost $1.86 million apiece and only 130 will be built, the first appearing in 2020. All very impressive.

It is clear that the aim of the car is to reframe the image of the Lotus brand, and to put it back into play with the likes of Ferrari and McLaren. Lotus is no longer the poor cousin it has been for the last 30 years. It was bought in 2017 by the Geely Auto Group from Hangzhou in China. The group sold 1.5 million cars in 2018 and owns not only the Geely marque but also its new luxury brand Lynk & Co, Volvo (and its Polestar offshoot) and Proton. It is also the owner of a very significant shareholding in Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes Benz. At one point it was even negotiating to buy Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, or parts thereof...

The hypercar is one thing, but inevitably the industry is now asking: what happens next? Lotus is a famous sports car brand and one presumes that the Elise, the Exige and the Evora will be replaced as they are all outdated and enthusiasm is dwindling. And when the other new models come, how will Geely seek to tell the world that there is a sexy new Lotus brand. When you look back in history Lotus was always involved in Formula 1, particularly in the great years in the 1960s and 1970s when Team Lotus won six Drivers’ titles, seven Constructors’ championships and 74 race victories.

The power of the brand meant that it continued to be used in F1 until as recently as 2015 although money was short. From a marketing perspective, Lotus and F1 are heavily linked. Geely has already shown that it understands the value of the sport by launching Lynk & Co in the WTCR with the factory Cyan Racing.

One cannot help but wonder how long it will be before we see Lotus once again in F1, but this time with sufficient money behind it to do the job properly...

 

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