The Big Car Database


Lotus Cars Limited
Private Limited Company
Industry Automotive
Founded 1952
Founder Colin Chapman
Headquarters Hethel, Norfolk, England,
United Kingdom
Area served
Key people
  • Jean-Marc Gales (CEO)
  • Aslam Farikullah (COO)
Products Automobiles, automotive parts
Owner Proton (1996–present)
R. Artioli/Bugatti (1993–1996)
General Motors (1986–1993)
Parent Proton Holdings Berhad
Lotus final assembly

Lotus Cars is a British company that manufactures sports cars and racing cars with its headquarters in Hethel, United Kingdom, and is a subsidiary of Malaysian automotive company Proton.

Notable Lotus cars include the Esprit, Elan, Europa and Elise sports cars and it had motor racing success with Team Lotus in Formula One. Lotus Cars is based at the former site of RAF Hethel, a World War II airfield in Norfolk. The company designs and builds race and production automobiles of light weight and fine handling characteristics. It also owns the engineering consultancy Lotus Engineering, which has facilities in the United Kingdom, United States, China, and Malaysia.

Lotus is owned by DRB-HICOM through its subsidiary Proton, which acquired it following the bankruptcy of former owner Romano Artioli in 1996.


The company was formed as Lotus Engineering Ltd. by engineers Colin Chapman and Colin Dare, both graduates of University College, London, in 1952. The four letters in the middle of the logo stand for the initials of company founder, Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman. When the logo was created, Colin Chapman's original partners Michael and Nigel Allen were led to believe that the letters stood for Colin Chapman and the Allen Brothers.

The first factory was situated in old stables behind the Railway Hotel in Hornsey, North London. Team Lotus, which was split off from Lotus Engineering in 1954, was active and competitive in Formula One racing from 1958 to 1994. The Lotus Group of Companies was formed in 1959. This was made up of Lotus Cars Limited and Lotus Components Limited, which focused on road cars and customer competition car production, respectively. Lotus Components Limited became Lotus Racing Limited in 1971 but the newly renamed entity ceased operation in the same year.

The company moved to a purpose built factory at Cheshunt in 1959 and since 1966 the company has occupied a modern factory and road test facility at Hethel, near Wymondham. This site is the former RAF Hethel base and the test track uses sections of the old runway.

In its early days Lotus sold cars aimed at privateer racers and trialists. Its early road cars could be bought as kits, in order to save on purchase tax. The kit car era ended in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Lotus Elan Plus Two being the first Lotus road car not to be offered in kit form, and the Lotus Eclat and Lotus Elite of the mid 1970s being offered only in factory built versions.

After the elegant but delicate Lotus Elite of the 1950s, Lotus found critical and sales success in the 1960s with the Lotus Elan two seater, later developed to two plus two form. Lotus was notable for its use of fibreglass bodies, backbone chassis, and twin cam engines, initially supplied by Coventry Climax but later replaced by Lotus-Ford units (Ford block, Lotus head and valve gear). Lotus worked with Ford on the Lotus Cortina, a successful sports saloon.

Another Lotus of the late 60s and early 70s was the two seater Lotus Europa, initially intended only for the European market, which paired a backbone chassis and lightweight body with a mid mounted Renault engine, later upgraded to the Lotus-Ford twin cam unit as used in the Elan.

The Lotus Seven, originating in the 1950s as a simple, lightweight open two seater continued in production into the early 70s. Lotus then sold the rights to produce the Seven to Caterham, which has continued to produce the car since then.

By the mid 1970s, Lotus sought to move upmarket with the launch of the Elite and Eclat models, four seaters aimed at prosperous buyers, with features such as optional air conditioning and optional automatic transmissions. The mid engined line continued with the Lotus Esprit, which was to prove one of the company's longest lived and most iconic models. Lotus developed its own series of four cylinder DOHC engines, the Lotus 900 series, and later a V8, and turbocharged versions of the engines appeared in the Esprit.

Variants of the 900 series engine were supplied for the Jensen Healey sports car and the Sunbeam Lotus "hot hatchback". In the 1980s, Lotus collaborated with Vauxhall Motors to produce the Lotus Carlton, the fastest roadgoing Vauxhall car.

Financial troubles, death of Chapman

By 1980, Group Lotus was in serious financial trouble. Production had dropped from 1,200 units per year to a mere 383. The combined reasons were that the world was in the middle of an economic recession, sales in the key United States market had virtually collapsed and there had been limited development of the then model range.

In early 1982, Chapman came to an agreement with Toyota to exchange intellectual property and applied expertise. This initially resulted in Lotus Engineering helping to develop the Mk2 Toyota Supra, also known as the Toyota Celica XX. Secondly it allowed Lotus to launch the new Lotus Excel to replace the ageing Lotus Eclat. Using drivetrain and other components from Toyota enabled Lotus to sell the Excel for £1,109 less than the outgoing Eclat.

Looking to re-enter the North American market, Chapman was approached by young law professor and investment banking consultant, Joe Bianco, who proposed a new and separate United States sales company for Lotus. By creating an unprecedented tax-incentived mechanism (wherein each investor received a specially personalised Lotus Turbo Esprit), the new American company, Lotus Performance Cars Inc. (LPCI), was able to provide fresh capital to the Group Lotus in the United Kingdom. Former Ferrari North America general manager John Spiech was brought in to run LPCI, which imported the remarkable Giugiaro-designed Turbo Esprit for the first time. US sales began to quickly jump into triple digits annually.

Chapman died of a heart attack on 16 December 1982 at the age of 54, having begun life an innkeeper's son and ended a multi-millionaire industrialist in post-war Britain. At the time of his death, the car maker had built thousands of successful racing and road cars, and won the Formula One World Championship seven times.

At the time of his death, both Chapman and Lotus were linked with the DeLorean Motor Company scandal over the use of UK Government subsidies for the production of the DeLorean DMC-12, for which Lotus had designed the chassis. Chasing large sums of money which had disappeared from the DeLorean company, Lotus was besieged by Inland Revenue inspectors, who imposed an £84 million legal "protective assessment" on the company. Chapman died before the full deceit unravelled but, at the subsequent trial of Fred Bushell, the Lotus accountant, the judge insisted that, had Chapman himself been in the dock, he would have received a sentence "of at least 10 years".

With Group Lotus near bankruptcy in 1983, through an introduction from his friend Mark Thatcher, English accountant and entrepreneur David Wickins, the founder of the world's largest vehicle remarketing business British Car Auctions, agreed to become the new company chairman. Taking a combined 29% BCA/personal stake in Group Lotus, Wickins negotiated with the Inland Revenue, and then brought in new investors: merchant bank Schroeder-Wagg (14%);Michael Ashcroft's Bermudian operating company Benor (14%);Sir Anthony Bamford of JCB (12%). Wickins oversaw a complete turnaround in the company's fortunes, which resulted in him being called "The saviour of Lotus".

International ownership

Despite having employed designer Peter Stevens to revamp the range and design two new concept cars,[citation needed] by 1985 the British investors recognised that they lacked the required capital to invest in the required new model development to production, and sought to find a major motor manufacturing buyer. In January 1986, Wickins oversaw the majority sale of the Group Lotus companies and 100% of North American–based LPCI to General Motors, with engineer Bob Eaton a big Lotus car fan. After four months of controlling but co-owning Group Lotus with Toyota, the Japanese company sold out to GM. By October 1986, GM had acquired a 91% stake in Group Lotus for £22.7 million, which allowed them to legally force the company buyout.

On 27 August 1993, GM sold the company, for £30 million, to A.C.B.N. Holdings S.A. of Luxembourg, a company controlled by Italian businessman Romano Artioli, who also owned Bugatti Automobili SpA. In 1996, a majority share in Lotus was sold to Proton, a Malaysian car company listed on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange.


Presently organised as Group Lotus plc, the business is divided into Lotus Cars and Lotus Engineering.

As well as sports car manufacture, the company also acts as an engineering consultancy, providing engineering development—particularly of suspension—for other car manufacturers. Lotus's powertrain department is responsible for the design and development of the 4-cylinder Ecotec engine found in many of GM's Vauxhall, Opel, Saab, Chevrolet and Saturn cars. The US Lotus Elise and Exige models used the 1.8L VVTL-i I4 from Toyota's late Celica GT-S and the Matrix XRS which is no longer available new. The new Exige has the same V6 as the Evora and is not available in US as a road legal vehicle.

Michael Kimberley, who had been a guiding light at Lotus in the 1970s, returned and took over as Acting chief executive officer of the Company and its Group from May 2006. He chaired the Executive Committee of Lotus Group International Limited ("LGIL") established in February 2006, with Syed Zainal Abidin (managing director of Proton Holdings Berhad) and Badrul Feisal (non-executive director of Proton Holdings Berhad). LGIL is the holding company of Lotus Group Plc.

Kimberley retired as CEO on 17 July 2009, replaced on 1 October 2009 by the former Senior Vice-President for Commercial & Brand at Ferrari, Dany Bahar. Bahar intended to drive the brand up-market into the expanding global luxury goods sector, effectively away from the company's traditional light weight and pure driving experience simplicity.

Bahar was suspended as CEO on 25 May 2012 on a temporary basis, while an investigation into his conduct was undertaken. Lotus announced on 7 June 2012 the termination of Bahar's employment, and the appointment of Aslam Farikullah as the new chief operating officer. The ambitious plans for several new models were subsequently cancelled.

Formula One and motorsport

Main articles: Team Lotus and Lotus F1
Lotus 77
Lotus 99T
Lotus 72
Lotus E20

In its early days, the company encouraged its customers to race its cars, and it first entered Formula One through its sister company Team Lotus in 1958. A Lotus Formula One car driven by Stirling Moss won the marque's first Grand Prix in 1960 at Monaco. Moss drove a Lotus 18 entered by privateer Rob Walker. Major success came in 1963 with the Lotus 25, which – with Jim Clark driving – won Team Lotus its first F1 World Constructors Championship. Clark's untimely death – he crashed a Formula Two Lotus 48 in April 1968 after his rear tyre failed in a turn in Hockenheim – was a severe blow to the team and to Formula One. He was the dominant driver in the dominant car and remains an inseparable part of Lotus's early years. That year's championship was won by Clark's teammate, Graham Hill.

Team Lotus is credited with making the mid-engined layout popular for IndyCars, developing the first monocoque Formula One chassis, and the integration of the engine and transaxle as chassis components. Team Lotus was also among the pioneers in Formula One in adding wings and shaping the undersurface of the car to create downforce, as well as the first to move radiators to the sides of the car to aid in aerodynamic performance, and inventing active suspension.

Even after Chapman's death, until the late 1980s, Team Lotus continued to be a major player in Formula One. Ayrton Senna drove for the team from 1985 to 1987, winning twice in each year and achieving 17 pole positions. By the company's last Formula One race in 1994, the cars were no longer competitive. Team Lotus constructed cars won a total of 79 Grand Prix races. During his lifetime Chapman saw Lotus beat Ferrari as the first Marque to achieve 50 Grand Prix victories, despite Ferrari having won their first nine years sooner.

Formula One Constructors' Championships (Drivers' Championship winner for Lotus)

  • 1963 (Jim Clark)
  • 1965 (Jim Clark)
  • 1968 (Graham Hill)
  • 1970 (Jochen Rindt)
  • 1972 (Emerson Fittipaldi)
  • 1973
  • 1978 (Mario Andretti)

Team Lotus established Classic Team Lotus in 1992, as the Works historic motorsport activity. Classic Team Lotus continues to maintain Lotus F1 cars and run them in the FIA Historic Formula One Championship and it preserves the Team Lotus archive and Works Collection of cars, under the management of Colin Chapman's son, Clive.

Team Lotus's participation in Formula One ended at the end of the 1994 season. Former racing driver David Hunt (brother of F1 world champion James Hunt) purchased the name 'Team Lotus' and licensed it to the Formula One team Pacific Racing, which was rebranded Pacific Team Lotus. The Pacific Team folded at the end of the 1995 season.

The Lotus name returned to Formula One for the 2010 season, when a new Malaysian team called Lotus Racing was awarded an entry. The new team used the Lotus name on licence from Group Lotus, and was unrelated to the original Team Lotus. In September 2010 Group Lotus, with agreement from its parent company Proton, terminated the licence for future seasons as a result of what it called "flagrant and persistent breaches of the licence by the team". Lotus Racing then announced that it had acquired Team Lotus Ventures Ltd, the company led by David Hunt, and with it full ownership of the rights of the "Team Lotus" brand and heritage. The team confirmed that it would be known as Team Lotus from 2011 onwards.

In December 2010 Group Lotus announced the creation of Lotus Renault GP, the successor to the Renault F1 team. This team contested the 2011 season having purchased a title sponsorship deal with the team, with the option to buy shares in the future. The team's car for that season, the R31, was badged as a Renault, while Team Lotus's car, the T128, was badged as a Lotus. In May 2011, the British High Court of Justice ruled that Team Lotus could continue to use the "Team Lotus" name, but Group Lotus had sole right to use the "Lotus" name on its own. As a consequence, for 2012 Lotus Renault GP was rebranded as Lotus F1 Team and its cars were badged as Lotuses, while Team Lotus was renamed Caterham F1 Team (after the sports car manufacturer owned by team principal Tony Fernandes) and its cars were badged as Caterhams.

Group Lotus is currently also involved in several other categories of motorsport. It sponsors the KV team in the IndyCar Series, and used to sponsor the ART team in the GP2 and GP3 Series in 2011 & 2012. In 2011, Lotus also returned to the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a semi-works effort run by Jetalliance Racing, which fielded two Lotus Evoras.

After fielding underpowered and uncompetitive engines in the 2012 Indianapolis 500, in which drivers Jean Alesi and Simona de Silvestro were black-flagged after ten laps for failing to maintain a competitive pace, Lotus was released from its contract and did not participate in future seasons.

Lotus car models

The Lotus Elise
Lotus Evora

Current Lotus models include:

  • Lotus Elise: The Elise was launched in 1996 and weighed 725 kg (1,598 lb). The current range of Elise's starts at 866 kg (1,909 lb) and incorporates some engineering innovations, such as an aluminium extrusion frame and a composite body shell. The Elise has spawned several racing variants, including a limited series called the 340R, which has an open-body design echoing the old Seven. The Elise was introduced into the US, with a Toyota engine, to pass strict US emissions laws. The 1ZZ & 2ZZ Toyota engines used to have a Lotus ECU with their own fuel mapping. The supercharged Lotus Elise S (which replaced the SC model) and limited edition Jim Clark Type 25 Elise editions add a new performance dimension to the Elise range. 0–60 mph acceleration is in 4.3 seconds and 0–100 km/h in 4.6 seconds.
  • Lotus Exige S: Currently the only Exige on sale is the Exige S with a supercharged engine providing 345 bhp (the same as in the Evora S) from supercharged 3.5-litre V6 .
  • Lotus Evora: Launched 22 July 2008. Code named Project Eagle during development. A 2+2 sports car with a mid-mounted, transverse 3.5-litre V6 engine. Lotus will provide the Evora S Model (2011) as Rapid Response Vehicles to the Rome and Milan Carabinieri to replace the previous Lamborghini Gallardos. See Lotus webpage A facelifted and more powerful Evora 400 model was unveiled at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show.
  • Lotus T125 Exos: Track-only Formula One inspired car. 3.5l Cosworth V8, 640 bhp; 25 will be built at $1 million each. To run in the 'Exos Experience by Lotus', a club, initiated and operated by Lotus Motorsport, in which a limited number of owner drivers can refine their driving skills and challenge themselves with expert one-to-one advice from former Grand Prix drivers and trainers. Also, previous holder of the fastest Top Gear lap time although it was disqualified for not being able to meet the requirements of getting over a speed bump.


Lotus Mk I, 1948
Lotus 7 S1, 1957
Lotus Mk IX, 1955
Lotus Eleven
Lotus Elite
Lotus 26R, 1965
Lotus Europa S2
Lotus Éclat S2
Lotus Esprit V8, 1996
Lotus Elise S1
Lotus Elise GT1 Road Car, 1997
Lotus 340R
  • Lotus Mark I (1948): Austin 7–based sports car
  • Lotus Mark II (1949–1950): Ford-powered trials car
  • Lotus Mark III (1951): 750 cc formula car
  • Lotus Mark IV (1952): Trials car
  • Lotus Mark V (1952): 750 cc formula car, never built
  • Lotus Mark VI (1953–1955): The first "production" racer, about 100 built
  • Lotus Seven (1957–1972): A minimalist open sports car designed to manoeuvre a racing circuit.
  • Lotus Mark VIII (1954): sports racer, MG 1.5 L
  • Lotus Mark IX (1955): sports racer, shorter and improved Eight
  • Lotus Mark X (1955): sports racer for larger displacement, Bristol/BMW 2 L
  • Lotus Eleven (1956–1957): small displacement sports racer (750 – 1500 cc)
  • Lotus 12 (1956–1957): Formula Two and Formula One racecar
  • Lotus 13: Designation not used
  • Lotus 14 (1957–1963): Lotus Elite, the first production street car
  • Lotus 15 (1958–1960): Sports racer, update of the Mk.X, Climax 1.5 – 2.5 L
  • Lotus 16 (1958–1959): F1/F2 car, "Miniature Vanwall"
  • Lotus 17 (1959): Lighter sports racer update of the 11 in response to Lola Mk.I
  • Lotus 18 (1960–1961): First mid-engined Lotus single seater—Formula Junior/F2/F1
  • Lotus 19 (1960–1962): Mid-engined larger displacement sports racer, "Monte Carlo"
  • Lotus 20 (1961): Formula Junior
  • Lotus 21 (1961): Formula One
  • Lotus 22 (1962–1965): Formula Junior/F3
  • Lotus 23 (1962–1966): Small displacement mid-engined sports racer
  • Lotus 24 (1962): Formula One
  • Lotus 25 (1962–1964): Formula One World Champion
  • Lotus 26 (1962–1971): Lotus Elan, production street sports car
  • Lotus 26R (1962–1966): Racing version of Elan
  • Lotus 27 (1963): Formula Junior
  • Lotus 28 (1963–1966): Lotus version of the Ford Cortina street/racer
  • Lotus 29 (1963): Indy car, Ford all-aluminium OHV small block V8
  • Lotus 30 (1964): Large displacement sports racer (Ford small block V8)
  • Lotus 31 (1964–1966): Formula Three space frame racer
  • Lotus 32 (1964–1965): Monocoque F2 and Tasman Cup racer
  • Lotus 33 (1964–1965): Formula One World Champion
  • Lotus 34 (1964): Indy car, DOHC Ford V8
  • Lotus 35 (1965): F2/F3/FB
  • Lotus 36 (1965–1968): Elan Fixed Head Coupe (Type 26 could be fitted with a removable hard top)
  • Lotus 38 (1965): Indy winning mid-engined car
  • Lotus 39 (1965–1966): Tasman Cup formula car
  • Lotus 40 (1965): Sports racer, a development of the 30
  • Lotus 41 (1965–1968): Formula Three, Formula Two, Formula B
  • Lotus 42 (1967): Indy car, Ford V8
  • Lotus 43 (1966): Formula One
  • Lotus 44 (1967): Formula Two
  • Lotus 45 (1966–1974): Convertible (Drop Head Coupe) Elan with permanent side window frames.
  • Lotus 46 (1966–1968): Original Renault-engined Europa
  • Lotus 47 (1966–1970): Racing version of Europa
  • Lotus 48 (1967): Formula Two
  • Lotus 49 (1967–1969): Formula One World Champion
  • Lotus 50 (1967–1974): Lotus Elan +2, four-seat production car
  • Lotus 51 (1967–1969): Formula Ford
  • Lotus 52 (1968): Prototype Europa Twin Cam
  • Lotus 53 (1968): Small displacement sports racer, never built
  • Lotus 54 (1968–1970): Series 2 'Europa' production car.
  • Lotus 55 (1968): F3
  • Lotus 56 (1968–1969): Indy turbine wedge
  • Lotus 56B (1971): F1 turbine wedge
  • Lotus 57 (1968): F2 design study
  • Lotus 58 (1968): F1 design study
  • Lotus 59 (1969–1970): F2/F3/Formula Ford
  • Lotus LX (1960): Lotus Elite built to win at Le Mans with a 2.0 L FPF engine.
  • Lotus 60 (1970–1973): Lotus Seven S4, Greatly modified version of the Seven
  • Lotus 61 (1969): Formula Ford, "the wedge"
  • Lotus 62 (1969): prototype Europa racer
  • Lotus 63 (1969): 4-wheel drive F1
  • Lotus 64 (1969): 4-wheel drive Indy car, did not compete
  • Lotus 65 (1969–1971): Federalized Europa S2
  • Lotus 66: Can-Am design study
  • Lotus 67 (1970): Proposed Tasman Cup car, never built
  • Lotus 68 (1969): F5000 prototype
  • Lotus 69 (1970): F2/F3/Formula Ford
  • Lotus 70 (1970): F5000/Formula A
  • Lotus 71: Undisclosed design study
  • Lotus 72 (1970–1972): Formula One World Champion
  • Lotus 73 (1972–1973): F3
  • Lotus 74 (1971–1975): Europa Twin Cam production car
  • Lotus 75 (1974–1982): Elite II, Luxury 4-seat GT
  • Lotus 76 (1974): F1, redundant designation
  • Lotus 76 (1975–1982): Éclat S1, fastback version of Elite II, redundant designation
  • Lotus 77 (1976): F1
  • Lotus 78 (1977–1978): F1 ground effects car
  • Lotus 79 (1975–1980) Lotus Esprit, street GT, redundant designation
  • Lotus 79 (1978–1979): Formula One World Champion, redundant designation
  • Lotus 80 (1979): F1
  • Lotus 81 (1979–1980): Sunbeam Talbot Lotus, redundant designation
  • Lotus 81 (1980–1981): F1, redundant designation
  • Lotus 82 (1982–1987): Turbo Esprit, street GT car
  • Lotus 83 (1980): Elite series 2
  • Lotus 84 (1980–1982): Éclat series 2
  • Lotus 85 (1980–1987): Esprit series 3
  • Lotus 86 (1980–1983): F1 dual chassis, never raced
  • Lotus 87 (1980–1982): F1
  • Lotus 88 (1981): F1 dual chassis car, banned
  • Lotus 89 (1982–1992): Lotus Excel GT, re-engineered Éclat
  • Lotus 90: Unreleased Elan/Toyota
  • Lotus 91 (1982): F1
  • Lotus 92 (1983): F1
  • Lotus 93T (1983): F1 Turbo
  • Lotus 94T (1983): F1 Turbo
  • Lotus 95T (1984): F1 Turbo
  • Lotus 96T (1984): Indy car project, abandoned
  • Lotus 97T (1985–1986): F1 Turbo
  • Lotus 98T (1986–1987): F1 Turbo
  • Lotus 99T (1987): F1 Turbo, last Lotus F1 winner
  • Lotus 100T (1988): F1 Turbo
  • Lotus Elan (Type M100) (1989–1995): Front-drive convertible Elan.
  • Lotus 101 (1989): F1
  • Lotus 102 (1990–1991): F1
  • Lotus 103 (1990): F1, not produced
  • Lotus 104 (1990–1992): Lotus Carlton/Omega, tuned version of the Opel/Vauxhall saloon.
  • Lotus 105 (1990): Racing X180R, IMSA Supercars Drivers Champ (Doc Bundy)
  • Lotus 106 (1991): X180R, roadgoing homologation special
  • Lotus 107 (1992–1994): F1
  • Lotus 108 (1992): a bicycle ridden by Chris Boardman to win a gold medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, also known as the "LotusSport Pursuit Bicycle".
  • Lotus 109 (1994): F1, Last Lotus F1 car.
  • Lotus 110: Production version of type 108 bicycle
  • Lotus 111: Lotus Elise
  • Lotus 112: Partial F1 design, reached as far as the monocoque buck
  • Lotus 113: Number not allocated
  • Lotus 114 (1996): Lotus Esprit GT1 race car
  • Lotus 115 (1997–1998): Lotus Elise GT1 race car
  • Lotus 116: Opel Speedster/Vauxhall VX220, a collaboration with Opel
  • Lotus 117: Lotus Elise S2[citation needed]
  • Lotus 118: Lotus M250, two-seat mid-range sports car concept unveiled in Autumn of 1999, project cancelled in 2001
  • Lotus 119: Soapbox Derby car made of carbon and aluminium, disc brakes, no engine, for Goodwood Festival of Speed
  • Lotus 120 (1998): Elise V6, code named M120, never produced
  • Lotus 121 (2006): Europa S
  • Lotus 122: Lotus Evora
  • Lotus 123: Lotus 2-Eleven
  • Lotus 124: Lotus Evora, race car
  • Lotus 125: Lotus Exos

Announcements of future cars

Proposed new Lotus Esprit (now cancelled)

At the 2010 Paris Motorshow, Lotus announced five new models to be introduced over the next five years: Their intention was to replace the Elise with an entirely different model, as well as to introduce two entirely new sports coupes, which would have been known as the Elite and the Elan, a new sports saloon, the Eterne, to rival the Aston Martin Rapide and Maserati Quattroporte, and a modern interpretation of the Esprit supercar.

It became apparent in July 2012 that the firm's financial difficulties had made this plan impossible to implement, and initially all but the Esprit project were cancelled. Subsequently the Esprit project was also cancelled.

Lotus also showed an unnamed city car concept using its 1.2L range-extender engine. In 2011, Lotus revealed this as the Lotus Ethos, a plug-in hybrid car based on the EMAS concept from its parent company Proton, and likely to be primarily built by Proton in Malaysia. This car has also been cancelled.

Lotus CEO Jean Marc Gales has confirmed that development of an SUV is currently under way.

Lotus engines

Lotus Evora engine
  • Lotus-Ford Twin Cam
  • Lotus 900 series
    • Lotus 907
    • Lotus 910
    • Lotus 911
    • Lotus 912
    • Lotus 918 V8
  • Range Extender Engine. This all-aluminium, monoblock, 1200 cc, three-cylinder, 47 horsepower, four-stroke engine is specifically designed to directly drive an alternator for electricity generation for series-hybrid cars. The engine is small and light at 56 kg (123 lb), having three cylinders and no detachable cylinder head. The cylinder head and engine block are all one casting to reduce size, weight and production costs. As the engine does not turn belt driven ancillaries such as alternator, power-steering pump or an air conditioning compressor, the block requires no strong points to accommodate such ancillaries, resulting in a simple and light block. The engine has a reduced parts count for lightness and cheaper production.
  • On 18 August 2011 Lotus fired up an all new in-house designed V8 destined for the new era range of cars. At 170 kg (375 lb) and just 612 mm (24.1 in) long, the unit will be dry sump lubricated to save depth and will feature a 180° flat plane crank. The engine is being utilised as a stressed component, a technique pioneered by Colin Chapman in F1, specifically with the 1967 Type 49. It is expected to be used in the Le Mans LMP2 car in 2012. Expected performance is likely to be in excess of 590 PS (434 kW; 582 hp) and with a 9,200 rpm redline.

Lotus Engineering

Lotus Engineering Limited is an offshoot of Lotus Cars, which provides engineering consultancy to third party companies primarily in the automotive industry. As well as Hethel in the United Kingdom Lotus has engineering centres in Ann Arbor, USA, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Shanghai, China. In 2000, Lotus Engineering, Inc. was established with an office in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Engineering demonstrators

  • Lotus Eco Elise is an engineering demonstrator of its classic sports car that incorporates solar panels into a roof made from hemp, while also employing natural materials in the body and interior of the car.
  • Lotus Exige 265E Bio-fuel
  • Lotus Exige 270E Tri-fuel
  • Lotus Evora 414E Hybrid. Shown at the 2010 Geneva Motor show
  • Lotus Concept City Car. Shown at the 2010 Paris motor show.


Main article: Lotus APX

The APX (also known as the "Aluminium Performance Crossover") is an aluminium concept vehicle revealed at the 2006 Geneva Motor Show built on Lotus Engineering's Versatile Vehicle Architecture (VVA).

Whereas the VVA technology will be used in the creation of a new mid-engined sportscar for Lotus cars, the APX is in fact a high-performance 7-seat MPV with four-wheel drive and a front-mounted V6 engine from Lotus Engineering's Powertrain division. The engine was designed and developed to be available as a 2.2-litre N/A and 3.0-litre supercharged. A number of prototypes of both engines exist in full working order in a number of mule cars.

Versatile Vehicle Architecture (VVA) is an effort by the Lotus car manufacturing company to reduce the investment needed for producing unique, niche-market cars by sharing a number of common components.

Cars produced using VVA:

  • Lotus APX

Projects undertaken by Lotus Engineering

DeLorean DMC 12 with Lotus designed Chassis
Sinclair C5
Dodge EV

Examples of work undertaken by Lotus Engineering include:

  • Lotus Talbot Sunbeam—Talbot's hot hatch rally car of the early '80s
  • DeLorean DMC-12. Changes to the original concept led to considerable schedule pressures. The car was deemed to require almost complete re-engineering, which was turned over to engineer Colin Chapman, founder of Lotus. Lotus replaced most of the unproven material and manufacturing techniques with those then employed by Lotus in the Lotus Esprit
  • Vauxhall Lotus Carlton (also Opel Lotus Omega, internal name Lotus Type 104) – At the time (early 1990s) this was the fastest saloon car available, with a top speed of over 175 mph (280 km/h)
  • The 1991 Dodge Spirit R/T with a version of the 2.2 L K-car engine with a 16-valve DOHC head designed by Lotus with over 220 hp (160 kW)
  • Vauxhall VX220 (badged Opel Speedster outside of the UK) – Lotus produced and based upon the same aluminium chassis design as the Lotus Elise. Production of these models ended in 2005
  • Lotus styled and assisted with the engineering of the Tesla Roadster, an electric sports car based on the Elise, as well as licensing some technologies to Tesla Motors and constructing the Roadster at their plant in Hethel
  • The Aston Martin DB9 chassis was developed with the help of Lotus Engineering
  • Lotus was responsible for most of the design, development, and testing, of the LT5 DOHC V8 powerplant for the Chevrolet Corvette C4 ZR-1
  • Lotus designed, developed and tested the GM Ecotec engine and its variants
  • Lotus was responsible for various aspects of the Sinclair C5 electric tricycle
  • Lotus was responsible for the suspension calibration of the Toyota MR2 Mk. I, the Toyota Supra Mk. II and Mk. III, the Isuzu Piazza, the Isuzu Impulse as well as newer Proton models
  • Lotus Engineered PROTON Satria GTi model
  • Lotus was responsible for the development of the Campro engine together with Proton, as well as its variable valve timing system, the Cam Profile Switching (CPS). Currently available in the 1.6-litre and 1.3-litre variants, the Campro engine now powers most of Proton's newer models
  • Lotus has worked on the suspension of the Mahindra Scorpio to make it more stable at high speeds
  • Lotus produced the revised chassis of the Isuzu Piazza
  • Lotus has worked on the suspension and handling of the Volvo 480
  • The Dodge EV concept electric vehicle from Chrysler is based on a Lotus Europa S
  • Lotus has worked on the suspension and handling of the Nissan GT-R
  • Lotus rebuilt, modified, and tuned a Lada Riva on Top Gear season 1, episode 8. 1 of 1 ever made
  • 2006 Volkswagen GX3, Lotus develop chassis for VW
  • 2009 Kia Soul gets Lotus tuned suspension (UK only)
  • 2010: Limo-Green project with Jaguar Cars. Lotus provided the Range Extender engine for a prototype XJ series-hybrid car. The car returned 58 mpg (imperial) running off the range extender alone
  • 2010 Jaguar CX-75, Lotus are partner with Jaguar for developing chassis system and engine management. Powering the engine is a supercharged 1.6 turbo petrol engine with 500bhp. With 175 bhp electric motor, power output of 313bhp/litre compare to Bugatti Veyron of 125bhp/litre
  • The 2015 Hyundai Genesis, Lotus has worked on handling and steering.
  • 2015 Spyker B6 Venator is powered by a Lotus-built engine originating from a Toyota-sourced block.
  • GM-built Baojun 730 Is a Chinese Minivan with Lotus-tuned suspension.

Lotus based cars

  • Detroit Electric SP:01, based on Elise chassis
  • Hennessey Venom GT and GT2, based on Exige chassis
  • Infiniti Emerg-e Concept Car, based on Evora 414E
  • Melkus RS2000, based on Elise chassis
  • Rinspeed sQuba Concept Car, based on Elise chassis
  • Tesla Roadster, based on Elise chassis
  • Vauxhall VX220/Opel Speedster, based on the Elise

Electric vehicles

Lotus Engineering has established a group dedicated to hybrid and electric vehicles.

Lotus Engineering created the Evora 414E as their first hybrid concept car. Featuring a total hybrid range of more than 300 miles and 0-60 MPH in 4.4 seconds.

Lotus joined Jaguar Cars, MIRA Ltd and Caparo on a luxury hybrid executive sedan project called "Limo-Green"—funded by the UK Government Technology Strategy Board. The vehicle will be a series plug-in hybrid.

Tesla Motors, a likely rival for Lotus if its plans go through, has also turned to contractors for parts of the all-electric Roadster. However, Tesla bought the chassis for their 2,500 Roadsters from Lotus because of the heavy weight of the batteries in an EV and Lotus's widely known low weight and sharp handling characteristics. While only 10% of the parts of the Tesla Roadster were shared with the Lotus Elise, Lotus was responsible for approximately 40% of the overall content of the car.

Queen's Award for Enterprise

Lotus Cars were awarded the Queen's Award for Enterprise for contribution to International Trade, one of 85 companies receiving the recognition in that category in 2002. Lotus cars wore the badge of the award for a number of years.


Further reading

  • Gérard ('Jabby') Crombac, Colin Chapman: The Man and His Cars (Patrick Stephens, Wellingborough, 1986)
  • Mike Lawrence, Colin Chapman: The Wayward Genius (Breedon Books, Derby, 2002)
  • Ian H. Smith, The Story of Lotus: 1947–1960 Birth of a Legend (republished Motor Racing Publications, Chiswick, 1972)
  • Doug Nye, The Story of Lotus: 1961–1971 Growth of a Legend (Motor Racing Publications, Chiswick, 1972)
  • Robin Read, Colin Chapman's Lotus: The early years, the Elite and the origins of the Elan (Haynes, Sparkford, 1989)
  • Anthony Pritchard, Lotus: All The Cars (Aston Publications, Bourne End, 1990)
  • Doug Nye, Theme Lotus: 1956–1986 (Motor Racing Publications, Croydon, 1986)
  • William Taylor The Lotus Book (Coterie Press, Luton, 1998, 1999, 2005)
  • William Taylor The Lotus Book Collectibles (Coterie Press, Luton, 2000)
  • Peter Ross, Lotus – The Early Years 1951–54 (Coterie Press, Luton, 2004)
  • Rémy Solnon, Lotus Esprit – le grand tourisme à l'anglaise (Editions Les Presses Littéraires, 2007)
  • Andrew Ferguson, Team Lotus: The Indianapolis Years (Haynes Publishing 1996) no longer available