If you’ve been waiting for the new Lotus Esprit or Elan to enter the scene, well, the news is that they’re not going to show, at least not in the forms they were seen in two years ago. DRB-Hicom group MD Datuk Seri Mohd Khamil Jamil has revealed that the five Lotus concept cars shown at the 2010 Paris motor show will not happen, and that their development plans were cancelled before the group acquired Proton.
Speaking after the press conference held during DRB-Hicom’s media drive event that took place over the weekend, Mohd Khamil said: “We went into a meeting with KPMG, who told us the plan was invalid.”
The ‘Paris five’ were the Esprit, Elan, Eterne, Elite and the new Elise, which was supposed to replace the current one. The show cars were not running prototypes, and nothing was then set in stone.
All that was made out then was that three different chassis configurations – small mid-engine, big mid-engine and front engine – were to be utilised for the five. Work on the Esprit had been ongoing for a while prior to the show debut – whether it translates to a future offering based along those lines remains to be seen.
As for the brand, Mohd Khamil reiterated that there is no intention of selling Lotus, evidenced by the recent opening of the Lotus showroom in Sungai Penchala, PJ and the Malaysian launch of the Elise S and Exige S models. Nonetheless, with the relative exception of the Evora, models such as the Elise and Exige are over a decade old, so there are inevitable questions as to how long they are expected to soldier on.
The group, however, remains confident in the cars’ ability to continue flying the flag for the brand. “They may be old, but they remain good cars and there is still demand for them,” Mohd Khamil said. “Lotus is also supplying technology to quite a number of OEMs.”
He also divulged that we can expect replacements for the Exige and Evora by 2015 or 2016, with a newly-developed platform and engine at the heart of things. No confirmation about whether the platform will be a carry-over or evolution of that from the Paris cars.
With regards to the £270 million loan (RM1.3 billion) from six financial institutions, Mohd Khamil said that the loan has been used up, with £88 million (RM425 million) pumped into Lotus to date, adding that the loan was to be paid back when it matures.