Where does Lotus go from here?
Since the start of this year the Lotus car company has been surrounded with nothing but bad news regarding poor sales, an uncertain financial situation and the recent revelation the CEO Dany Bahar was sacked over his conduct.
We asked our resident car industry expert for his view on Lotus and its future.
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To start with, the reputation of Lotus has fallen considerably in recent years because of its dismal record of unreliable cars; this alone has driven away even some of the most loyal customers from the brand.
Even taking these issues out of account, the company hasn't done enough over recent years to promote its brand image and make it valuable.
Historically down the years, Lotus offered motorists some put-together kit cars and basic lightweight sports cars. Once upon a time this was enough to make Lotus cars cool and desirable because they were fast and built around a simple but effective philosophy which brought success in motor sport, predominantly Formula One.
While the Lotus cars were simple, they were a chance for motorists to get something with far superior pace and handling compared to your standard family car, all for not a lot of money when compared to big-name sports cars.
These days though these sorts of lightweights sport cars are uncommon and socially unacceptable.
While they are extremely basic, Lotus cars still carry expensive running costs and the support network for the range is practically non-existent.
Furthermore, nowadays you can get luxury coupes and saloons with engines and performance figures which can match or outpace the Lotus range of lightweight sports cars. On top of that these fast saloons and coupes will carry all sorts of luxury equipment and driving aids as standard.
You can find fast luxury cars from many brands such as BMW, which are prevalent with dealerships in the UK. Lotus dealerships on the other hand are uncommon; can you even name your nearest local Lotus dealership?
To stay competitive Lotus needed to change tack and start making more mainstream cars, while its reputation was still going strong.
I remember back in the early nineties, Lotus revealed the Carlton, a mainstream four-door saloon with a big 377bhp 3.6-litre engine. Back then this car wowed the public, even though less than 1000 were built, many motorists craved one. Yet despite this, Lotus just didn't seem to really build upon this idea.
Ultimately, despite the recent announcement of a product blitz, I think Lotus has missed the boat when it comes to delivering more mainstream cars that people really want. They've lost out on all the sales that luxury and executive car makers now enjoy.
Nowadays the current Lotus range (the Elise, Exige, 2-Eleven and Evora) has no real direct competitor, the Evora is by far the closest Lotus has to a luxurious sports car but it alone hasn't taken the fight to others in terms of sales.
The rest of the range meanwhile is neither practical nor luxurious, yet prices can climb up to over £50,000 for one of these cars. Can you imagine the more privileged motorists picking one of these cars to drive around town ahead of say a Bentley, Porsche or McLaren?
Furthermore, the racing heritage Lotus use to enjoy is now practically non-existent. Their attempt to rekindle this through their recent sponsorship involvement in Formula One had little chance of success and probably harmed their reputation more than anything else; the dispute created over two teams named Lotus shows just how badly things went.
These days it's far more effective to improve your brand image by simply focusing on giving cars most people want.
Companies like Hyundai and Skoda used to have poor reputations in the UK, but both companies have built themselves up over time and are now a hit. All by delivering cars which are widely recognised as reasonably priced, reliable and fairly decent to drive.
A future for Lotus?
Back during the 2010 Paris Motor Show Lotus revealed an ambitious plan to challenge the likes of Ferrari and Porsche with a range of five new sports cars at the Paris Motor Show.
However when you're in a recession plans like this are very hard to pull off, you need a lot of money to get things off the ground and there's very little to suggest Lotus have this, quite the opposite in fact.
It doesn't matter what Lotus says or does, it will simply never be able to challenge Ferrari or any of the other big names in the sports car industry, because the name just isn't desirable enough.
Ultimately to have any chance of achieving lasting success in the sports car market you need money - lots of money - and an appealing image to attract customers.
There's been little in the way of PR or any other coverage which suggests Lotus does in fact have the money required to properly challenge. Either way changing a car manufacturer's reputation is a slow process.
In contrast take a look at McLaren for instance; its current plan to establish itself in the supercar market is ambitious but can work because they have a huge budget, new high-tech facilities built and a strong reputation built from its recent success in motorsport, all of this is making the brand desirable.
In my view Lotus is doomed and the people who work there simply don't realise this just yet.
It's a sad situation but not at all a surprising one. Through the 30-plus years I have spent working in the auto industry, I have driven a few Lotus cars but can barely recall seeing them much - or any advertisement for the brand.
Lotus stayed in a niche bracket for too long and ended up fading into obscurity. What little Lotus may have left to offer now will not be enough to carry them forward when the business is faced against so many competitors who are far richer and way more popular.