Norfolk-based car manufacturer Lotus has had its best annual global retail sales performance in a decade.

During 2021 Lotus sold 1,710 new cars, its highest number of sales since 2011 and an increase of 24pc on the previous year, when it sold 1,378.

An internationally recognised brand, Lotus was first founded in 1951 by Anthony Chapman, who used the experience he had gained in aircraft technology during national service in the RAF to develop racing cars.

Since then, the company has grown to become one of the most prestigious sports cars manufacturers in the world.

Last year saw the car company’s iconic Elise, Exige and Evora models end production, which could have resulted in the rise in sales as consumers looked to secure the models before production ceased.

The Elise was Lotus’ global top-seller during 2021, with both its Sport 240 Final Edition and the Cup 250 Final Edition models selling well.

Lotus cars appeal to drivers world-wide, with USA and Japan its biggest markets last year and the UK in third place.

It said sales of its vehicles were up 111pc year-on-year in North America, which includes the USA and Canada markets. In Japan, Lotus said it had its best year since 2015.

Meanwhile, in Europe, sales of Lotus cars in the UK were up 29pc, while Belgium saw sales increase by 37pc.

Commenting on the retail sales performance, Geoff Dowding, executive director, sales and aftersales, said: “Our global retailers have risen to the challenge of giving the Elise, Exige and Evora the send-off they deserved. It means we’re in great shape for 2022 to focus on the all-new Lotus Emira, our last petrol-powered sports car and the best of breed.”

In recent years Lotus has reiterated its commitment to Norfolk and has pledged to carry out a multi-million pound redevelopment of its Hethel site including a new customer experience centre.

It has also expanded its workforce within Norfolk considerably in the last 12 months, including a new facility in Norwich.

Matt Windle, managing director at Lotus Cars, added: “In difficult circumstances our retailers have delivered what was asked of them and more.

"It’s testament to their hard work, and that of our manufacturing, marketing, sales and distribution teams around the world.”