Lotus adds an SUV, with eyes on the mainstream allure

These cars are essential to Lotus’ “Vision 80” strategy, named for the brand’s 80th anniversary, arriving in 2028. “The mission statement is to transform us into a global high-performance vehicle brand, moving us from niche sports cars to large volumes, globally, Through innovative products, you bring us into new markets and new segments, and generally grow the brand around the world,” said Mr. Wendell.

Lotus’ goal is to sell 100,000 cars, annually, worldwide by 2028. That’s a lofty goal. In 2021, the brand sold only 1,701. Maserati, the respected and long-standing sports car maker, has achieved similar sales goals over the past decade, with massive investments and expanded products. Last year, Maserati delivered just over 24,000 vehicles.

Moreover, this isn’t the first time Lotus has promised a major expansion. In 2010, under the leadership of former Ferrari CEO Danny Bahar, the brand unveiled five new cars and promised that they would be in production within five years. Accusations of financial wrongdoing by Mr. Bahar, and dueling lawsuits followed. None of these cars were realized.

Mr. Wendell distinguishes the current state of the brand from that. “I think at that era they were trying to sell a plan to go and get the investment,” he said. “In this era, we have the investment, we have the plan, and then we’ll talk about it next.” He added that Lotus had a “fully invested 10-year strategy”.

This heavy stake is unfamiliar to the brand. “Lotus has always been shy of bankruptcy,” said Ross Robins, a 78-year-old retired businessman, historian and author, and member of Lotus Ltd., among the brand’s oldest and largest American Affinity groups. “Even when Chapman was there in the early days, they didn’t have enough capital, and they bounced from disaster to disaster.”

However, this lack of resources has spurred some of the company’s precarious achievements. “They’ve always smoothed things out,” said Mr. Robbins, resulting in cars that are both sophisticated and innovative that far outperformed their weight. “But they are brittle, and not for someone who was not well versed in mechanical things, because they need a lot of attention.”

A love for something that constantly fails is a sinister compulsion common to many temperamental car owners. It follows that Lotus maintains a very involved group of owners.

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