I've been a life-long Lotus fan, and am seriously considering pulling the trigger on getting my first Lotus if the stars align in the next few weeks.
However, a large concern for me is the continuing uncertainty over the Lotus parent company Proton, as well as DRB-Hicom. Everything out there currently is just speculation, and while a DRB-Hicom exec has supposedly said "Lotus is safe", I don't think he would be the first C-level exec in the world to have lied if things play out differently.
With that in mind, what do you guys think would happen if (God forbid) Lotus does indeed end up going belly up? My main concerns are around:
1) resale value of existing Elises/Exiges/Evoras
2) spare parts
3) cost of maintenance
It's pretty obvious that resale values would decline, spare parts would be difficult (or impossible) to find, and cost of maintenance would go up, but I just have no idea what to expect as far as magnitude of these potential changes. I.e., would resale values totally tank, or just decline 5-10%? Would spare parts be literally impossible to find, or do you think a 3rd party company would figure out a way to start producing critical parts? Would non-Lotus independent auto repair shops be able/willing to service Lotuses, or are they so unique that you'd basically be SOL?
Any input or thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
1. So far the resale value of Elise/Exige has been pretty good, and appears to actually have went up some the last few months despite all of the news about Lotus' struggles coming out. Assuming that Lotus DOES go under or if it is bought by another company and revamped with a different image, then there is a good possibility that the current Lotus lineup will never really be emulated (light, simple, raw, etc) to the level that we see are used to. That, coupled with the fact that these cars are extremely fragile and many are used on the track, means that every day more and more and being wrecked and in many cases totaled. So what that leaves us with is an ever-decreasing supply of what is already an extremely limited and unique vehicle, so I have no hesitation in saying that re-sale prices should stay pretty stable.
2. Many of the mechanical parts on the Lotus are borrowed from other, more mainstream vehicles, and there are several third party manufacturers that have picked up where OEM parts have left off. All in all, the Elise and Exige are extremely reliable cars save a few things such as the factory radiator (which I'm dealing with right now
) and our oil lines, so if you take care of it you shouldn't have to worry about changing too many parts. Just remember that the powertrain is basically like driving a Celica GTS around.
3. Maintenance can be a little more expensive than "normal" cars, partly because it can be more difficult or time-consuming to perform them due to the configurations of our cars, and also because most people will take it to a "specialty" or "exotic" shop to have work done, and they will often charge higher rates. I'll give you a perfect example with my radiator issue. Assuming my radiator needs to be replaced, it will require removing the entire front clam just to get to it. I got a quote yesterday from the dealership saying labor alone on this is almost 700 bucks (and I'm not sure if that includes the coolant flush and all that). For many cars if a shop said they were charging you 700 dollars JUST for labor, you'd laugh at them on the way out the door.
That being said, the Lotus is pretty easy to work on (as long as you have small hands
) if you are willing to put in the time and have the proper tools. Do your own oil changes. Change your own pads. If you are having a small leak somewhere try to run it down yourself and fix it. Doing this little things make this car extremely cheap to maintain.