‘While the end­less spe­cials grated with some peo­ple, they all sold, and for a profit, too’

Evo - - NEWS - Stu­art Gal­lagher, Ed­i­tor @ stu­artg917

FI­NALLY, THE AN­SWER TO A QUES­TION THAT has cropped up at least twice a month here at evo since, oh, I don’t know, when we started back in 1998: who is go­ing to buy Lo­tus?

We’ve spec­u­lated many a time within these pages about the com­pany’s fu­ture, what it should build and who should take own­er­ship. Some sto­ries have re­sulted in strongly worded cor­re­spon­dences or lengthy tele­phone con­ver­sa­tions. But as of 1 July, cur­rent own­ers DRB-HICOM will have sold a 51.1 per cent stake in the Bri­tish car com­pany to Geely, the Chi­nese owner of Volvo and the Lon­don Taxi Com­pany. Not nat­u­ral bed­fel­lows, I grant you, but Volvo seems to be do­ing okay.

There was al­ways a sense that DRB-HICOM didn’t re­ally know what to do with the maker of the Elise and Ex­ige. There’s no deny­ing it sup­ported Lo­tus through thick and thin (and Dany Ba­har), but there ap­peared to be a dis­tinct lack of strat­egy.

There has been, how­ever, a sense of sta­bil­ity at Hethel over the last three years. Much of this I put down to cur­rent CEO Jean-marc Gales (there’s been no con­fir­ma­tion he will stay in his role). To many, he ap­pears to have done lit­tle but launch end­less lim­ited-run Elises and Ex­iges and moth­ball half of the pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­ties. But his strat­egy of re­duc­ing costs, erad­i­cat­ing waste and stream­lin­ing pro­duc­tion has paid off with this sale. And while the end­less spe­cials grated with some, they all sold, and for a profit, too. Lo­tus also re­turned to the US un­der Gales’ stew­ard­ship.

What now? A new Elise in 2020 if Gales stays and con­tin­ues with his strat­egy and vi­sion, but be­yond that? The Evora and Ex­ige will need re­plac­ing, and I’m sure there are cor­ners of the mo­tor­ing world that want to see a new Esprit, but that may never hap­pen.

For now, I’m just happy Lo­tus ap­pears to have a fu­ture, one of in­vest­ment and new mod­els that will fo­cus on the thrill of driv­ing. And that’s got to be a good thing, hasn’t it?

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