Just two years after taking the reins at Hethel, Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales has made the bold claim that the small, Proton-owned British sports car maker will turn a profit as soon as the current fiscal year beginning in April 2016 – the first time in 20 years.

In an interview with Automotive News, Gales said that Lotus’ return to positive cashflow will be the culmination of a three-year plan, with the first two years building up to this moment. “I can’t give any numbers, but we are better than the year before,” he said. “We are continuously improving as 2013 was better than 2012, 2014 was better than 2013, 2015 was better than 2014.”

Gales gave a ballpark sales estimate for the year 2016 to 2017 of between 2,200 and 2,300 units, although he believes the company can do even better. The year will include the first full-year sales of the Evora 400 in the United States, which was launched there in May. “We expect sales [of the Evora in the US] of 400 cars. We already have 250 orders,” he said.

Lotus’ flagship marks the company’s return to selling road-legal sports cars in America – since to the discontinuation of the US-spec Elise and Exige in 2011 and the Evora in 2014, sales were limited to track-only cars. Right now, all sales in the country is made up of the 400 coupé; a roadster version will arrive around a year from now. “Right now almost the whole factory is [building] U.S. orders,” he said.

Lotus Evora 400 43

He added that Lotus will continue to review costs in the future, despite trimming much of the bulk in the intervening two years. In that period, jobs have been slashed from 1,200 to 900, the number of hours taken to build a car has been reduced by 10% and the company has been continuously cutting the cost of parts. “It was one of the prerequisites of becoming profitable, and we will get there,” he said.

Gales also shared some juicy details regarding its next architecture, which will replace the bonded and extruded aluminium one it’s been using since the Series I Elise was launched in 1996. The new platform will likely continue to be made from aluminium because of its flexibility over other materials like carbon fibre. “On the same car you can do both open or closed.” he said. “We are still working on reducing the weight.”

That architecture will come to the market in four years on smaller cars like the Elise, and a little longer on larger cars like the Evora. Before that, however, the Elise will be given one more makeover, although it won’t make it to the US – that will have to wait for the new architecture. “We have concrete ideas of what we’re going to do with the car regarding improved infotainment, lower weight and more power,” Gales said.

“There’s so much life left in the current [architecture],” he added. “The basic architecture is 20 years old, yes, but the Porsche 911 architecture is 50 years old and that’s still going strong. We’ve continuously updated it. Look at all the competitors who try to copy our cars. Either they get too heavy or too slow or both.”

lotus elise cup 250 01

On the subject of hybrid powertrains, Gales said that such technology would not work on a sports car, although he said the system could work on its SUV. “Why add two powertrains and batteries when I can add one powertrain and optimise?” he asked.

“It would be completely against Lotus’ philosophy of lightweight. It would add 100kg of batteries and 50kg for the second drivetrain. Hybrid is favored by the current emissions cycle. When the emissions cycle changes it won’t be favored as much.”

Gales said that while it falls under the small manufacturer clause in Europe with regards to emissions – the same one that companies like McLaren and Aston Martin reside – it does have to fulfil certain regulations in the US. “Over a five-year period, we need to show a gradual 3%-per-year reduction. We can get there. In Europe we are working on remapping the electronics and reducing weight,” he said.

When asked on how he plans to achieve that target, Gales said, “One option is to take out the supercharger [from the Evora]. Another is to go for extreme lightweight, but that is in our DNA anyway. The third is have longer gear ratios, which I don’t like much because it takes away the liveliness of the car. I don’t believe a four-cylinder fits there.”