WATCH: First look inside new Lotus factory at Hethel
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020
A factory being built at the Norfolk HQ of Lotus means the firm can triple its car production.
The 15,500m sq production line currently being constructed at Hethel as part of a £100 million investment by Chinese owners Geely will offer technology never seen before in Norfolk. It will mean 5,000 cars can be produced a year in 40-hour working weeks, compared to 1,500 currently made.
Sports cars will arrive in parts at one end with the finished product driving out of the other – straight on to the test track. The assembly line will also include body spray painting done by robots.
There will also be a newly designed ‘monsoon unit’ where the cars are drenched with water to test their resilience.
The new production line will feature German parts, replacing the current 30-year-old equipment.
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The factory, which will be used to build all models except the all-electric Evija, built in a separate unit at the Norfolk base, is part of a multi-phase development project.
David Hewitt, executive director of operations, said: “Many other car makers assemble in different places. We have it all in one place at Hethel and what this new investment, when so many other firms are pulling back, means is that it ensures we can continue to compete with the very best in the sports car market.”
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The next project in the pipeline for the sports car manufacturer is the launch of its long-anticipated heritage centre detailing the Lotus story from its inception by founder Colin Chapman, including a view of his private office.
But first a new energy-efficient factory, paint shop and facilities for staff will be completed.
The factory has two storeys with offices looking out over the test track and also a customer experience centre where you can come and view your new car being put together.
A 1,600sqm facility is almost finished to offer a new staff restaurant and cafe, to be open early next year, with its design inspired by the Lotus cars. The ceilings are exposed and outside, the front canopy mimics the line of the car spoilers.
The facility can accommodate up to 700 people, with outdoor seating planned, and can be used for corporate events.
At one end a showroom for dealers will be set up. Lotus currently has 250 dealers world-wide and 25 in the UK, including one in Long Stratton.