Lotus has confirmed that it plans to begin manufacturing a new series of sports cars, with prototype production of the Type 131 model to commence this year from its new manufacturing facility in Hethel, UK. The factory forms part of Lotus’s Vision80 strategy, which will also see the relocation of two Lotus sub-assembly facilities into one central operation in Hurricane Way, Norwich to support higher volumes.
The company has invested more than £100 million into developing the Hethel facilities, and also plans to recruit 250 new employees for the site. This is in addition to the 670 employees that have joined Lotus since September 2017, when shareholders Geely and Etika took ownership of the company.
New recruits are required for roles in engineering and manufacturing for both Lotus Cars and the engineering consultancy, Lotus Engineering – which opens its Advanced Technology Centre in Warwick later this year.
Lotus has released an image (see above) that hints at the new generation of models that will follow the Elise, Exige and Evora, which have entered their final year of production in 2021 having sold a combined circa 55,000 units. A programme of activities is planned to celebrate the current range of three sports cars, starting with the Elise, which revolutionised the low-volume sports car industry with its pioneering use of extruded and bonded aluminium, high-tech composites and light weight when it launched in 1995.
Phil Popham, CEO of Lotus Cars said: “This year will be hugely significant for Lotus, with new facilities coming on stream, a new sports car entering production and new levels of efficiency and quality that only a new car design and factory can deliver. Despite the continuing global challenges, Lotus has emerged from 2020 strong and on track in the delivery of our Vision80 business plan.”
Popham stepped down as CEO on 28 January 2021, to be replaced by Matt Windle, previously executive director of engineering. Matt Windle added, “Our renowned team of engineers, designers and technicians who are working on the new cars are acutely aware of the legacy from the Elise, Exige and Evora. Indeed, many were around when Elise was being developed. Members of our team, old and new, are now busy blending the learnings of the past with the innovations of today and tomorrow, to ensure our future cars truly move the game on but remain firmly committed to Lotus values.”