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Old 12-08-2012, 10:43 PM   #1 (permalink)
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LA Auto Show - Lotus details

Well, I attended the LA Auto Show this year and have done this the past 5 years running. It was great seeing when Lotus debuted a whole line of awesome cars showing that the company was back on track however this year demonstrated that one lap does not win a race. Here's what unveiled...

Lotus almost didn't show at the LA Auto Show. Thanks to Galpin Motors who stepped in last minute to save the day. As always they do a great job presenting the brands they sell. The Aston Martin display was awesome, the Lotus one was.... Um... Different...

Only two reps decided to show at the auto show. I think it was more out of convenience than desire. I approached the west coast sales rep for Lotus to discuss what Lotus has in the works for the coming year. I pointed out that a Lotus has pulled all information on new product development and only has one car platform in the US with no future direction defined. With rumors of a buy-out looming certainly doesn't provide faith in the product. I expressed that the current Lotus community has fierce loyalty and simply wants to know that Lotus hasn't lost it's direction or vision of the future. Here's what unfolded..

I got a lecture about how bad Lotus Talk was. Jeff spent a good five minutes trashing everything about Lotus Talk and rumors flying around about being bought by Volkswagen. He said Lotus Talk was worse than the tabloids in demanding to know everything. I reminded him that we as owners are not asking for a line by line detail but simply a roadmap, even if it is just concept cars, at least there is a vision and direction. A dark void which once contained beautiful vehicles showing the future of Lotus is not comforting. Getting no where on this and to derail the bashing, I asked about race development... And it got worse..

I asked about various dealer oriented race items similar to what was done for the Elise / Exige. The comment was "zero development planned". I asked why and the answer was that Lotus owners are too cheap and they would probably only sell a measly few items which would not justify the cost. He complained about Elise owners being cheap on service work. i seriously value the service work done by my current dealer and support them. Most owners I know feel this way and do the same.

I expressed info on upgrade for Evora owners who would like the S option kit and the reply was buy another Evora. I asked about more HP for the Evora line and was told that already there is plenty. I asked about the V6 Exige being brought to the US and was told not at all. I felt at one point that asking for wiper blades would be a performance option and not likely would be the answer.

I think using the Toyota Camry engine affected the brains at Lotus. They view the Evora owners as stylish Camry and for drivers who are timid of performance and really simply desire the two door Camry option called Evora.

Did Lotus forget it's racing heritage? yes..

Did Lotus forget "performance through light weight", yes.
Now it's "Apathy through accounting and lack of vision"..

I feel at this point the Lotus community really needs to speak out on what they want for the future of Lotus before it's too late. Go directly to Hethel, the team in the US thinks we just complain and whine too much. What happened at the LA Auto Show was a clear signal that "Houston we have a BIG problem" rings loud and clear.

We need to act before we see Prius as the next performance race car. You know it's really bad when the booth at Scion and Hyundai for sports performance blow away the Lotus display at a major international auto show. Soon Lotus will be making vacuum cleaners.. What they are doing now really sucks. A least they can compete with Dyson and make a lighter vacuum cleaner.

Simply disgusted beyond belief.

A loyal and seriously disappointed owner.

PB
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Old 12-08-2012, 11:28 PM   #2 (permalink)
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May we have Jeff's last name please.

Thanks.
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Old 12-08-2012, 11:50 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Let's hope that rep gets his ass fired.
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Old 12-08-2012, 11:51 PM   #4 (permalink)
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There are 13 lotus employees in the USA. I know the two on the west coast and can say that does not sound like them at all. They were passionate and open last time I talk to them, which was about eight months ago. Remember they are only human and lotus is like Saab right now....
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Old 12-09-2012, 12:26 AM   #5 (permalink)
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If you disregard most of the emotionally-charged statements, at least half of what he said actually has some truth in them. The issue here is his delivery of the information and misdirected anger of some sort(wtf?).

I doubt, in current condition, Lotus has vision or direction. There is no road map. There is no 'new concepts'. I'd think it's fair to say all of those has been thrown out along with Dany Bahar.
Lotus is pulling out of Indycar, The 'Lotus F1' team has zero connection with Hethel(well just the tiny bit back when DB was paying them to be the title sponsor).
If you look at the parts market for the Elise/Exige cars the legitimate Lotus items or the LotusSport items carry a hefty sum, and there is already a cheaper alternatives floating around from various vendors. Additionally, partially due to the car's simplicity, many of us opt to have the service done ourselves or a shop rather than having it done by the dealers.
There is no 'kit' to turn the Evora into 'S', so he is actually saying the truth when he says to buy the new one.

He could as well be frustrated with the current condition of Lotus as much as us, which could be the reason why he said all those things. It still doesn't give him the license to say all the things he said, though. He is there to be represent Lotus, after all.
He should have at worst kept his mouth shut.

If everyone here actually paid $200+ to the dealers for oil changes, he may have had different attitude.
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Old 12-09-2012, 04:20 AM   #6 (permalink)
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You learned a lot from his response. He doesn't know anything either which is troubling and is frustrated because it is hard selling the current stock of Evoras when the buyers don't know if the company will be in business in a year.
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Old 12-09-2012, 04:36 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I can't speak for most Lotus owners, but, dealers price and (driving) distance themselves out of the market for minor work. It is about 450 miles round trip to the nearest dealer in my area. It takes 6 times longer to drive the car to the dealer and back, than what it takes to perform the oil change myself. I have done my own oil changes/transmission fluid changes/brake fluid changes, more as a time savings than a cash savings. Plus, I get to pick the exact fluid and filters I prefer. When the shift cable broke, the thought of pushing the car onto a flatbed trailer and towing it to the dealer never entered my mind; I fixed it myself. When I priced having a supercharger installed on my Elise, the dealer labor rate was $1000 higher than any of the other authorized installation centers. The "local" dealer has a poor reputation, with other Lotus Talk members posting pictures of "duct tape" repairs performed by the dealer. If a dealer wants my business, they can't be a long distance away, be overpriced and they must do quality work I can trust.
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Old 12-09-2012, 04:54 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Cheap on service? How much service does a modern car demand? If you buy a Corvette the only service is oil changes and a set of tires for three years unless you track it (lots of brakes!). BMW and VW include maintenance for a period of time because there is so little. Most Lotuses aren't driven enough to rack up the mileage where huge service bills are necessary. An F-150 has cheap service prices, but most are driven 15K, 25K or more a year giving greater opportunities to sell service. And the determining factor is the number of cars Lotus sells, which is extremely small. Maybe Lotus should develop an exclusive bespoke engine demanding high service costs if they are only going to sell a few hundred cars in the US per year.

I think Lotus should maintain its old model, though. Produce a unique affordable SPORTS car at moderate price. Handling, simplicity and lightness could still sell. A 2700 lb. car with 450+ HP for $90K or a 2400 lb car with nearly 300HP for $60K would work. A Chevy LS V-8 in the first case and a Ford Focus turbo four in the second.


My 0.02
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Old 12-09-2012, 06:37 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I thought the west coast sales rep is Carl J? Met and spoke to him on several occasions. Very helpful and knowledgeable.
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Old 12-09-2012, 07:12 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Restructuring set to drive DRB-Hicom growth

Just because you don't know what the plan is doesn't mean there isn't one.

From The Star Online:

Quote:
PETALING JAYA: DRB-Hicom Bhd’s growth outlook for the next three years is expected to be driven by the continued restructuring of the company such as the RM7.4bil armoured vehicle contract and the growth in consumer loans from Bank Muamalat.

CIMB Investment Bank Bhd analyst Lucius Chong said in a report that the armoured vehicle contract would start contributing to the company’s financials by the fourth quarter of financial year 2013 and would peak in financial year 2016.

“This is in line with our current assumptions of a 20% margin and the contract is an added kicker to our numbers, contributing to our 52% earnings per share forecast for 2014 and 34% for 2015,” Chong said.

He also said Bank Muamalat, in which DRB-Hicom would eventually reduce its stakes to 40% from 70% presently, had seen healthy growth in consumer loans which now accounted for 63% of its loan books.

Hong Leong Investment Bank Bhd analyst Daniel Wong said DRB-Hicom’s subsidiary Proton Holdings would be improving pre-tax profit margins to 8% by financial year 2018 from year-to-date of 1.5% with a yearly sales target of 500,000 in the domestic market and exports to Asean, Britain, Australia and China.

He noted that Proton aimed to leverage on its own research and development capabilities and its collaboration partners such as Honda and Lotus to do this.

He said it also aimed to have a full range of product offerings in all market segments with a global car.

“Lotus is expected to turn around by financial years 2015 to 2016, riding on expansion in sales volume from 2,400 in 2013 to 5,900 in 2016 through new market penetration, network expansions, new model variants and a rebranding exercise,” Wong stated.

He said the company’s plans for Proton took the company back on the right track and added that these plans sounds sensible despite a lack of details.

“The main challenges would be its execution and changes to the market environment,” Wong said.

Both CIMB and HLIB rated DRB-Hicom’s shares with “outperform” and “buy” calls, with target prices of RM3.27 and RM3.52 respectively.
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Old 12-09-2012, 07:19 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by forkmeupscotty View Post
If you disregard most of the emotionally-charged statements, at least half of what he said actually has some truth in them. The issue here is his delivery of the information and misdirected anger of some sort(wtf?).
I would also agree with some of his comments about Lotus Talk. Every week, there are new threads here about the impending demise of Lotus which only churn rumors supplied by tabloid-style websites. When an actual article is referenced which contains direct quotes from DRB management about their intention to continue running Lotus, that article is ignored. I can understand how these discussions by supposedly loyal Lotus enthusiasts would frustrate Lotus employees. OTOH, "Jeff" clearly needed to vent his frustration in a different venue, not at customers.
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Old 12-09-2012, 07:45 AM   #12 (permalink)
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A summary based on replies so far

According to the tone of the thread based on the recent discovery at the LA Auto Show I think it's fair to say the following:

1. Lotus Talk users strongly believe that the dealer charges too much for anything and does work poorly (I disagree since my dealer has done a great job). I've seen great aftermarket options and really crappy ones. I've also seen really poor install jobs which make any good engineering work look bad.

2. Lotus owners strongly prefer to perform their own work. They can do everything better than the factory trained mechanic. (Beyond oil changes, obviously)

3. Aftermarket will always beat Lotus developed options, so what is the point of any development at all. Retaining any warranty at all is simply not worth the cost to keep it.

4. Asking for an upgrade for the Evora for an S-option is pointless when you can simply purchase another one. Why would you ever want to go to the dealer and have any factory upgrade options at all?

5. Lotus having a lack of apparent direction and keeping everything is a good thing for Lotus owners and potential buyers? When Dany left, the lights were turned out. Is saving power that important? I have shown potential buyers for an Evora the info on Lotus and they fear that the company won't be around. No product development, pulling all the new product line, no news usually means bad news coming. They simply see owning a new Lotus as a big risk which is not good.

I think the thing to ask yourself is how much do you value your dealership and how much do you value Lotus continuing to create beautiful cars. What have you done to promote the efforts of keeping your local dealership and potentially spawn the growth of Lotus to support your car.

Maybe I am completely wrong and everyone believes that the aftermarket will completely consume the vehicle support. There are definitely great aftermarket shops out there but how will they survive well if no new products from Lotus are being produced?

What would you ask Lotus to do to regain it's market place? What would you expect at an auto show where you would normally put your best foot forward? Simply firing people who are obviously frustrated and trying to hold on to a job in a crappy economy is not a solution. Fixing the problem starts at the core of Lotus and with it's customers as well.
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Old 12-09-2012, 07:53 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Hello. My name is Doug an I am a cheap Elise owner.
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Old 12-09-2012, 08:00 AM   #14 (permalink)
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That discussion makes if apparent that lotus has no clue about public relations. The smart auto companies have learned to embrace online communities. Ford actually has service reps that monitor some message boards. LT has created a huge database of user feedback for lotus and all they can do is complain when people have legitimate concerns about the future of the company. Seems pretty clear that Lotus has a very poor understanding of its customer base.
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Old 12-09-2012, 08:06 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Sounds like a tough interaction at the LA display. I agree that at least on substance I am not sure what he supposedly said is inaccurate, maybe just not communicated as well as he could have. Fact is we love cars that are NOT loved by a lot of other people which means that the margins are slim and for them to stay alive they must charge prices that are above market. I pay the prices at the dealer in San Diego because I am just so grateful to have a dealer only 10 miles from my house. If they can't make money on the brand then I will not have a place to service a car that I love. Unfortunately, a few of us are not the usual Lotus owners, i.e. I have zero mechanical capabilities. I also live in a hi rise condo so even if I could work on the car it is not allowed by the HOA in the parking garage.

I am working my way through an EVO "magazine/book" about the history of Lotus that makes it clear that if you have ever been a Lotus fan then you are well acquainted with near death experiences, frustration and financial armageddon. It seems to be a part of the experience of enjoying a car that has characteristics that are not valued by a lot of other people.

Fortunately, I think there is such value in the Lotus brand that it will continue to survive in some form. I for one am just grateful to be able to have a car like this to buy in the US. Remember the demand for the Elise when we went several years with NO Lotus new car for sale in the US? Just an opinion, like noses, everyone has one.
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Old 12-09-2012, 08:13 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slow_Polk View Post
That discussion makes if apparent that lotus has no clue about public relations. The smart auto companies have learned to embrace online communities. Ford actually has service reps that monitor some message boards. LT has created a huge database of user feedback for lotus and all they can do is complain when people have legitimate concerns about the future of the company. Seems pretty clear that Lotus has a very poor understanding of its customer base.
I don't think you can sit there in front of your computer and know what Lotus' PR and marketing plans are. Obviously, they have to restructure the entire marketing program in light is Bahar's exit and accounting for current market realities. These things do not happen overnight. Proper marketing costs a lot of money and while Lotus is going through an evolution at the moment, DBR Hicom is going through its own restructuring as well. There is a lot of competition for scarce resources. So, instead of ranting an raving about something you may or may not have detailed information on, it would be more advisable to KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON.

My personal opinion is you are going to see an announcement concerning the new Esprit in the near future. It will be close to the original proposal, but without the home-grown V8. It will probably be powered by a turbo charged Toyota V6 or even the Toyota 3UZ-FE V8 with enhanced induction (if they can make it fit). Floor plan will be sometime in 2014, IMHO.
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Old 12-09-2012, 09:16 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Specifically asked about the new Esprit

I specifically asked about the new car line-up and especially about the new Esprit. The answer I got was that the car would not be released AT ALL. The car plans of release went with the exit of Dany.

I could greatly appreciate if the individual said, "Lotus is going through some serious restructuring to secure the long-term future of Lotus. The delay in release of the new vehicles will only add to the further refinement of the vehicle. Take Acura as an example, the NSX has been delayed until 2015 or later. Lotus realizes that to regain it's market place it needs a strong financial foothold. Meanwhile we will defer to our aftermarket community and dealers for ongoing support. Lotus is not dead, simply retooling to be stronger for another day."

That would have shown they are aware.

I they had even one car at the show and simply called it "Concept" it would have shown that despite financial issues, they are alive and well.

What I experienced was nothing even close otherwise I would have posted a MUCH MORE positive post with the anticipation of awesome cars in the near future.

I also have followed the financial news of Lotus and even when I purchased my vehicle I knew what I was getting into. I was looking to purchase the new Evora S at my local dealer. I asked for options on the car for Lotus performance and aftermarket which were little. I decided to wait when I heard the news of the potential release of new cars. I attended the LA Auto Show and saw the new vehicles and said, "Lotus is back and everyone look out". My wife said it was an awesome display and said get one!

What I saw this week and overheard people say while walking around was quite said. People asked, "What happened to Lotus, are they in trouble?" Not a lot of people were there overall. Galpin did an outstanding job in their presentation on short notice.

As yourself if Lotus pulled their entire product line and is going through massive restructuring to gain financial stability, what would you expect to see at an auto show?
- no show?
- just current cars?
- one track car in addition to the current products?
- one concept car in addition to the current products?
- one concept car, one track car, and current products?

Each year all of the manufacturers show cars you can't get, as well as track cars you can't drive on the street. It shows that the brand is alive beyond the daily driver realm of cars. I think Lotus forgot this point in marketing or thinks it is not important at all. At one point they were thinking "no show at all"

Which one above your you expect?
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Old 12-09-2012, 09:18 AM   #18 (permalink)
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There is no one by that name operator of this thread provided that works for lotus on the west coast.

The two reps are Carl Jackson (awesome guy I have talked to for hours with at la autoshow year before)

And the service rep is David sinkin who helped me get my s260 repaired.
I know David was at la autoshow because he talked to my dad.

I have both their business cards. So what the operator heard was a dealer employee being unprofessional as usual.
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Old 12-09-2012, 09:19 AM   #19 (permalink)
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I do not believe this dealership employee express. The views of lotus..
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Old 12-09-2012, 09:20 AM   #20 (permalink)
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I do not think most owners would agree with the summary above.

"Jeff" should be fired. His job is to promote and support Lotus in the best light. If he can't do it or brings his personal feelings out at a public event, he needs to go. There are many people out there who value Lotus and have hope. To have a paid representative talk like that is shameful. No need to blow smoke up my ass, but do keep your personal opinions to yourself at an event like a car show.

Still waiting on Jeff's last name.

Thanks.

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