Boss of Lotus cars reveals details of new practical vehicle ‘for the everyday’
The CEO of Lotus said the new £100m facility being built at Hethel would more than double the production capacity of cars including the firm's new 'fun car for the everyday.'
But, in an exclusive interview with this newspaper, Phil Popham refused to confirm the new car being produced at Hethel in 2021 after the electric Evija was an SUV.
Mr Popham, who took over at Lotus 15 months ago under Chinese owners Geely, said the aim was to more than double the capacity at Hethel of building the current 1500-1600 cars a year, although up to 10,000 cars could be built. As previously stated, the firm expects to expand production outside Norfolk - but keeping Hethel at its core.
He said: "A lot of money is being spent here and we wouldn't be doing that if we weren't committed to Hethel. There is no doubt that we will reach and exceed the capacity that Hethel has got, although we're a long way off that, so we will need to build outside Hethel but that doesn't mean instead of, but as well as, but the heart of the business is here.
"First we will be bringing the Evija to market, that showcases our capability as a business, it confirms investment that we can go and engineer the most powerful production car in the world in a short period of time, it's making a huge statement that Lotus is back, it's alive and kicking and it's got a really exciting future.
"After that the new sports car will put some volume into our business and allow us to build up infrastructure around the world, the ability to make money out of Lotus is low because volumes are low but the new sports car will help quite considerably. and set up a huge investment in all new platforms and take us into other segments. There is no name for this yet and we won't be showing that car until the latter part of next year, with production in 2021.
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"We have not confirmed we are making an SUV, none of the articles originated from me, our focus is on sports cars and to re-establish ourselves as a premium sports car manufacturer with a range of prices, building on what we were in the past, and we have confirmed the new car is the next volume sports car. We will move into other segments when the brand is strong enough to support it. We need to re-establish in people's minds what the DNA of Lotus is, it's for the drivers, on-road dynamics, aerodynamics, lightweighting and performance, whether that's an SUV, a GT, Crossover, Sport Sedan or a pure sports car - they all have to have the DNA of Lotus.
"The SUV is not the only segment we are considering, yes we could make money out of a Lotus SUV if we did it in the right way, but not just by sticking a Lotus badge on it, it's about developing a platform potentially with other group companies, engineered from the start with the attributes of Lotus."
He said the new car would be priced from £55,000-£95,000. "It will deliver everything you would expect from Lotus in terms of performance, it will be fun to drive, with on-road dynamics, on-track dynamics, but be more practical in terms of storage, it will feel bigger, be intuitive with space, it will be a great Lotus in every respect but a car you can live with every day."