I expect Lotus to offer the Elise at or very near the projected price if it expects to meet its sales target.
At that price, I assume Lotus will need to sell to more than just the car enthusiasts that lurk on this forum for Proton to make a profit. That means it will need to steal market share from the TT, Z4, S2000, SLK, Boxster, and, probably to a lesser extent, the Miata, MR2, WRX, Z, RX-8, and maybe even the Corvette.
The enthusiast will know better, but at its current price point, the marketing folks have a decent challenge on their hands in dealing with the U.S. market:
* 4 cyl. engine (stigma of not having a V6 or V8; are there other $40k cars w/a 4 cyl?)
* < 200 hp (>200 hp is so common now in the U.S.; even a $19.9k Neon has 215 hp)
* looks (I suspect many will not be fond of the Elise's edgy/busy style)
* possible lack of ABS (now Accords come standard with ABS)
* size & crash worthiness vs. a 3-4 ton SUV
* lack of power windows (Americans are lazy)
* difficulty of fat Americans getting into the car
* smaller trunk than a Miata
* smaller dealer network (how many will actually know where their Lotus dealer is?)
* insurance cost (what bumper?)
* Lotus brand (British reliability perception; may be somewhat offset with a Japanese engine)
* Lotus brand (cost perception; people are always surprised when I tell them the projected price of the Elise--"oh, that's not that bad")
With that said, I believe the Elise will be a success here--maybe not a huge success, but at least profitable. What will sell the Elise:
* Lotus brand (Lotus=fast to most people; exclusivity factor)
* zillions of accolades by the press
* performance data
* gas mileage (maybe Lotus is praying for even higher gas prices)
* the huge grins on Elise drivers' faces as they zoom past other cars
I can't wait for my huge grin.
Last edited by Dan; 03-27-2003 at 07:02 PM.