Geely's Plans For Lotus @ Hethel - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-17-2019, 04:21 PM Thread Starter
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Talking Geely's Plans For Lotus @ Hethel

https://www.roadandtrack.com/new-car...tion-to-china/

Sports car will continue to be built in England! Time to celebrate with a warm beer!
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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-17-2019, 04:29 PM
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Cheers to that! Letís just hope itís true. Crossing my fingers.
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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-18-2019, 01:53 AM
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Not sure why "built in England" is a factor. Lotus builds kit cars with poor fit and finish (don't even try to dispute, with our horrific electricals, bad seats, cheap ass turn stalks, rusting interior metal, bad wiring harnesses, etc. etc.) and has regularly gone out of business or barely stayed afloat. Not sure how being made in England all these years helped their cause.

"made in England" is only a good thing if its a well made and successful business venture which even the most die-hard Lotus fan must agree that Lotus is not.

If anything, I think being made in China would help matters. Let Lotus setup the chassis and suspension and let professionals build the rest of the car.

Don't get me wrong, I love my Evora and forgive its faults. But I am under no false pretense about the build quality of Lotus.
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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-18-2019, 04:32 AM
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Originally Posted by xxaarraa View Post
Lotus builds kit cars with poor fit and finish...
Because they are always broke.

If someone would give them the right amount of money, all the quality issues would be corrected.

How do I know this to be fact? Look at how strong their engineering branch is, and how many manufacturers look to them for help, even to this day.

Quality of build is always a question of money. Just ask Toyota.

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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-18-2019, 04:45 AM
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I just can't wrap my head around the idea of a Lotus SUV. Isn't a SUV the complete antithesis of everything Lotus stands for? Fully leather interior, 67 way power seats, DVD screens in the backseat, etc, doesn't really fit into "add lightness." That, and I think Range Rover has already cornered the niche market of really capable but completely unreliable SUVs that only rich soccer moms who who never take them off road anyway would buy.
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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-18-2019, 05:39 AM
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I can imagine a Lotus SUV sort of vehicle that would appeal. The SUV type layout is very reasonable, especially if you only can have one vehicle. Yesthere is sooo much competition, everyobe is making one but that’s what most everyone is buying. Take a look at any parking lot anywhere. At least here in the US.

But then I had imagined a new Supra that would make it’s precessors proud. I bet the new SUV will be some sort of other sedan platform with a different body style and colors and Colin’s initials all over the place.

For whatever it’s worth, I would not buy a Lotus built anywhere other than Hethel if it could move through space and time. Would only want a TARDIS from England too.

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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-18-2019, 06:43 AM
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If anything, I think being made in China would help matters. Let Lotus setup the chassis and suspension and let professionals build the rest of the car.
Made in China comes with its own set of challenges. As another poster mentioned, Toyota builds quality cars all over the world. I suspect they've quantified the focus points at each supplier and assembly plant on the planet, and I suspect they do vary between locations.

All it takes is the determination to identify and prioritize faults (kanban) and constantly improve them (kaizen). All of this originates from the Deming method (now, amusingly enough, replaced the Toyota method, because they carried it further) which defines the cost of poor quality as an expense, and thus justifies reducing poor quality as a way to reduce cost (and thereby increase profit/business success).

The problem is that the payoff on this sort of effort runs into decades. A 1976 Toyota Corolla isn't a wonderful car. A 2019 Corolla hits all the check boxes it could possibly be expected to, and the customer buys a competitor for any of a number of reasons, but quality is probably not on that list. The difference is 40+ years of investment in deliberate, constant improvement.

I have no doubt at all that the first-world workforce in Hethel are motivated to do good work. I also have no doubt that they generally either know or want to find out how to make the best cars they can.

There are aspects of my 2005 Elise that are pretty well done - they used current technology waterproof connectors and wiring, for instance. There are other aspects that are decidedly deficient, for whatever reason. In the case of the wiring, I'd have to say the methods of mounting and placement of wiring harnesses would give a Toyota engineer a heart attack. I doubt that going to stud harness hangers (like my '92 Celica uses a lot of places) would have added much cost or complexity to the car had they been specified in the design phase, but they would have made some things work a lot better than the ubiquitous wire ties and fabric tape.

To be fair, my vintage Toyota does in fact have some factory wire ties here and there, but they're never the primary support of a bundle or cable - I suspect they were running production changes resulting from lots of kaizen as my car was the third year of production for that model (ST184).

A lot of what I see on my Elise looks like they really just need to take apart a Corolla or a Civic once in a while and learn how the best in the world do things on a budget. Unfortunately, that costs money - your engineers aren't engineering things if they're dismantling some other kind of car and writing lessons learned and standards documents.

Another factor is probably that they aren't selling (and thereby building) enough cars to build them well. Car manufacturers generally crush pilot cars for a reason - it's assumed that they're full of defects and should never sully the brand by being sold. The engineers at Newport News Shipbuilding maintained, when I asked, that the best way to get quality aircraft carriers was to build one no less frequently than every five years - otherwise forgetting sets in and workforce turnover makes it too hard to make a good product efficiently.

If you're only ever building pilot cars, it's hard to focus on getting every one just right. It's hard to get economies of scale, too.

So again, it all comes back to money and focus. If Geely wants Lotus to up its engineering and manufacturing quality game, it has only to invest and prioritize accordingly and wait a few years. As Peter Drucker reminds us, "What's measured improves." In a technical business, if you want something different, you have to measure the current product's deficiencies and then deliberately change. That costs money and time. Geely has the money. We'll see if they have the vision and are willing to take the time.

Given that Lotus sports cars will always be a niche market (and therefore limited production) item, it's reasonable to assume that building them will remain a semi-cottage industry. The 'human robots' of the Pearl River Delta (or elsewhere in China) would likely not be a good fit. I suspect that Hethel is probably going to be as good a place to build Lotus sports cars as anywhere else, and the quality of the product would not be improved just by moving assembly anywhere else.
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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-18-2019, 07:39 AM
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Originally Posted by steelypip View Post
Made in China comes with its own set of challenges. As another poster mentioned, Toyota builds quality cars all over the world. I suspect they've quantified the focus points at each supplier and assembly plant on the planet, and I suspect they do vary between locations.

All it takes is the determination to identify and prioritize faults (kanban) and constantly improve them (kaizen). All of this originates from the Deming method (now, amusingly enough, replaced the Toyota method, because they carried it further) which defines the cost of poor quality as an expense, and thus justifies reducing poor quality as a way to reduce cost (and thereby increase profit/business success).

The problem is that the payoff on this sort of effort runs into decades. A 1976 Toyota Corolla isn't a wonderful car. A 2019 Corolla hits all the check boxes it could possibly be expected to, and the customer buys a competitor for any of a number of reasons, but quality is probably not on that list. The difference is 40+ years of investment in deliberate, constant improvement.

I have no doubt at all that the first-world workforce in Hethel are motivated to do good work. I also have no doubt that they generally either know or want to find out how to make the best cars they can.

There are aspects of my 2005 Elise that are pretty well done - they used current technology waterproof connectors and wiring, for instance. There are other aspects that are decidedly deficient, for whatever reason. In the case of the wiring, I'd have to say the methods of mounting and placement of wiring harnesses would give a Toyota engineer a heart attack. I doubt that going to stud harness hangers (like my '92 Celica uses a lot of places) would have added much cost or complexity to the car had they been specified in the design phase, but they would have made some things work a lot better than the ubiquitous wire ties and fabric tape.

To be fair, my vintage Toyota does in fact have some factory wire ties here and there, but they're never the primary support of a bundle or cable - I suspect they were running production changes resulting from lots of kaizen as my car was the third year of production for that model (ST184).

A lot of what I see on my Elise looks like they really just need to take apart a Corolla or a Civic once in a while and learn how the best in the world do things on a budget. Unfortunately, that costs money - your engineers aren't engineering things if they're dismantling some other kind of car and writing lessons learned and standards documents.

Another factor is probably that they aren't selling (and thereby building) enough cars to build them well. Car manufacturers generally crush pilot cars for a reason - it's assumed that they're full of defects and should never sully the brand by being sold. The engineers at Newport News Shipbuilding maintained, when I asked, that the best way to get quality aircraft carriers was to build one no less frequently than every five years - otherwise forgetting sets in and workforce turnover makes it too hard to make a good product efficiently.

If you're only ever building pilot cars, it's hard to focus on getting every one just right. It's hard to get economies of scale, too.

So again, it all comes back to money and focus. If Geely wants Lotus to up its engineering and manufacturing quality game, it has only to invest and prioritize accordingly and wait a few years. As Peter Drucker reminds us, "What's measured improves." In a technical business, if you want something different, you have to measure the current product's deficiencies and then deliberately change. That costs money and time. Geely has the money. We'll see if they have the vision and are willing to take the time.

Given that Lotus sports cars will always be a niche market (and therefore limited production) item, it's reasonable to assume that building them will remain a semi-cottage industry. The 'human robots' of the Pearl River Delta (or elsewhere in China) would likely not be a good fit. I suspect that Hethel is probably going to be as good a place to build Lotus sports cars as anywhere else, and the quality of the product would not be improved just by moving assembly anywhere else.
TLDR

The whole "if only someone gave us a wad of cash we'd make better cars" is a myth. Many mainstream manufacturers started small, built a sustainable business, generated capital and became big over time. In short, small volumes are not an excuse for poor quality.

British cars were always poorly made for most of the second half of the 20th century. Hence most British brands are owned by someone else now. Ever wonder why they all went out of business and got bought?

"Made in England" doesn't mean anything other than chassis, suspension and coachwork. Back to my original point, let the British continue to do what they are good at, and let someone else build the dang cars because nearly everyone else is better at it.
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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-18-2019, 08:05 AM
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TLDR
TLDR 2 U 2

Many manufacturers build good and bad cars all over the world. No reason England is unique in its badness.
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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-18-2019, 09:11 AM
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Let's not forget that the design and philosophy is still purely British on any Lotus. No matter who puts it together and how it's done, every Lotus originated inside a British mind. I would hate to see a Lotus SUV. Back in 2015, Flavio Manzoni said Ferrari founder "Enzo Ferrari would turn in his grave if they ever built an SUV. But things have changed in Maranello since then. Colin Chapman would probably agree with Enzo Ferrari on the no SUV policy. I don't see Lotus building an SUV. What I suspect is that they will put electric powertrains inside the Evora and possibly a new Esprit. Don't forget that Geely owns a big stake in Daimler AG as well. This new plant could possibly support manufacturing for all of their cars and not be exclusive to Lotus.

Geely would not build a Lotus SUV unless they want to destroy what the brand really stands for. I hope someone from Lotus is reading this.
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post #11 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-18-2019, 11:23 AM
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Given that the best-selling Porsches are their SUV and the same trend for so many manufacturers, you are a bit off base. Also, profits are higher on these hulks.


"Geely would not build a Lotus SUV unless they want to destroy what the brand really stands for. I hope someone from Lotus is reading this."

Or maybe they'd like to make some good profits. BTW, I think Lotus has heard this opinion quite a few time by now, I don't think they need to read this thread.

You will not be forced to buy an SUV to get an Evora.....
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post #12 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-18-2019, 01:42 PM
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Where is the Tardis Built?

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Originally Posted by XHILR8N! View Post
I can imagine a Lotus SUV sort of vehicle that would appeal. The SUV type layout is very reasonable, especially if you only can have one vehicle. Yesthere is sooo much competition, everyobe is making one but thatís what most everyone is buying. Take a look at any parking lot anywhere. At least here in the US.

But then I had imagined a new Supra that would make itís precessors proud. I bet the new SUV will be some sort of other sedan platform with a different body style and colors and Colinís initials all over the place.

For whatever itís worth, I would not buy a Lotus built anywhere other than Hethel if it could move through space and time. Would only want a TARDIS from England too.
Not to worry on that one.
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post #13 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-18-2019, 01:43 PM
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In fact, you may only get to buy an Evora in the future because someone else bought an SUV from Lotus.
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post #14 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-18-2019, 02:48 PM
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Ok, you got me. The Tardis were, I assume, constructed on Gallifrey. Dr. Whoís particular one somehow got its exterior presentation fixed on an Earth device, an English Police box.

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So all this implies that, by my own inadvertent admission, a Lotus styled in Hethel but built far away is desirable.

Anyone can make something complicated. It takes genius to make it simple. Einstein.
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post #15 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-18-2019, 03:20 PM Thread Starter
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Interesting responses all. But let me ask ... how loudly would Ferrari faithful howl if those cars were built away from Maranello? I'm guessing you could hear the indignant braying from different hemispheres. BTW: I have an egg in each of these baskets, so to speak.
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post #16 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-18-2019, 03:41 PM
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Interesting responses all. But let me ask ... how loudly would Ferrari faithful howl if those cars were built away from Maranello? I'm guessing you could hear the indignant braying from different hemispheres. BTW: I have an egg in each of these baskets, so to speak.
A very different basket indeed. Lotus has been a value proposition to this point. If it is about anything other than nostalgia or simply steering feel then all is lost. If it becomes about track capable vehicles then a $42k US Camaro 1LE will walk almost all sports cars up to $100k. A Camaro ZL1 1LE at $65k will take care of all of the rest at a much higher curb weight. In the end, we are passionate about the brand and that needs factory support.
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post #17 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-18-2019, 04:50 PM
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Given that the best-selling Porsches are their SUV and the same trend for so many manufacturers, you are a bit off base. Also, profits are higher on these hulks.


"Geely would not build a Lotus SUV unless they want to destroy what the brand really stands for. I hope someone from Lotus is reading this."

Or maybe they'd like to make some good profits. BTW, I think Lotus has heard this opinion quite a few time by now, I don't think they need to read this thread.

You will not be forced to buy an SUV to get an Evora.....
I hope you don't suggest that Ariel and Radical start making SUVs to stay in business as well. Trucks are highly profitable and sell a lot in Texas, should they also build a Lotus truck? Where do we draw the line? The bean counter mentality is what kills great brands.
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post #18 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-18-2019, 05:32 PM
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If someone would give them the right amount of money, all the quality issues would be corrected.
...
Quality of build is always a question of money. Just ask Toyota.
I think you're really stretching the impact money has on how well things are engineered. I'd counter that Toyota's quality has as much to do with their corporate culture and innovations in manufacturing as the (staggering) amount of money they make.

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Originally Posted by steelypip View Post
Made in China comes with its own set of challenges. As another poster mentioned, Toyota builds quality cars all over the world. I suspect they've quantified the focus points at each supplier and assembly plant on the planet, and I suspect they do vary between locations.

All it takes is the determination to identify and prioritize faults (kanban) and constantly improve them (kaizen). All of this originates from the Deming method (now, amusingly enough, replaced the Toyota method, because they carried it further) which defines the cost of poor quality as an expense, and thus justifies reducing poor quality as a way to reduce cost (and thereby increase profit/business success).

The problem is that the payoff on this sort of effort runs into decades. A 1976 Toyota Corolla isn't a wonderful car. A 2019 Corolla hits all the check boxes it could possibly be expected to, and the customer buys a competitor for any of a number of reasons, but quality is probably not on that list. The difference is 40+ years of investment in deliberate, constant improvement.

I have no doubt at all that the first-world workforce in Hethel are motivated to do good work. I also have no doubt that they generally either know or want to find out how to make the best cars they can.

...

A lot of what I see on my Elise looks like they really just need to take apart a Corolla or a Civic once in a while and learn how the best in the world do things on a budget. Unfortunately, that costs money - your engineers aren't engineering things if they're dismantling some other kind of car and writing lessons learned and standards documents.
I really like the content of this post because it touches on so many of the challenges in manufacturing a quality product.

Any software devs here doing agile? 100% chance you have dealt with a Kanban board.

It's common knowledge that lots of car manufacturers buy cars to deconstruct them and see how they're manufactured. There are third party companies that specialize in that - one made a lot of headlines by decrying the incredibly poor build quality of the Tesla Model 3 (though complementing its electronics). That said, my feeling is that Lotus has never been a big-enough car company that they would have a team doing that and they've never been really owned by a big parent company so whatever culture of quality never really set in. I suspect most of the "independent" car manufacturers like McLaren, Pagani, and Koenigsegg don't because their focus really isn't on long-term reliability.

There was actually a very interesting post on Reddit (take that as you will) about the extent that Toyota goes to produce quality cars.
https://old.reddit.com/r/cars/commen...em_so/eab0c7v/

Quote:
Former Toyota employee here.

Firstly, they are very conservative in implementing new tech. Their R&D have pretty advance tech, but for production, everything is validated (probably) twice as much compared to other carmakers, thus by the time it’s green lit for mass production, it’s old tech.

New tech adoption is so slow and difficult, it often frustrate even Toyota employees.

Another thing about Toyota R&D, they have regional design houses, with the aim to “localized” parts design as much as possible, even the smallest design (engineering) details.

For example, the inside ribs of a Hilux’s wheels in Brazil is about 5mm thicker than the ones in Thailand, so they can withstand 12G, instead 10G, because they did a survey of Brazil potholes, found out they are 20% bigger compared to a Thailand pothole.

Vietnam tires have tickers sidewalls, because people on Hanoi like to climb over curbs. South Africa’s absorbers are 2mm thicker, because people less likely to brake when they see a rock. Air intakes for tropical countries are placed 15mm higher, because there have more floods. Tiny changes which are easily managed at parts manufacturing level, but have significant impact in reducing failure rate.
and: https://old.reddit.com/r/cars/commen...em_so/eac2e8f/
Quote:
So I mentioned about procurement. Toyota don’t mess around when it comes to suppliers, it's borderline Stockholm Syndrome.

I’ve seen Toyota engineers who after a meeting in 10am, book a 4pm flight from Japan to the Philippines, buying some clothes on the way to the airport, just so the next morning they could go to this one supplier 50km from Manila, to confirm one particular welding machine of one particular brackets, because one of Toyota’s material lab found out 2 out of 100 sample of theses brackets developing micro cracks, which have 10% chances of breaking apart. So let’s set a camp in front of this welder, until we know why some of it cracked.

See, there are definitely engineers in Toyota Philippines who are capable of doing the same welding study, but this guy from Japan is the one who signed off this supplier, 5 years ago, so no way he going to trust some guy over a phone 3,000 miles away. He “owns” this bracket.

So Toyota have this concept called “Genchi Genbutsu”, which means something like “actual place, actual thing”. So the engineers no matter how many reports, data, pictures, nothing beat actually going to see the thing itself, studying it, discussing about it, in front of the actual problem. And I would have to admit, it just feels more right doing studies on on-site instead in a meeting rooms with printouts and PowerPoints, even if now that you have facetime/skype.


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TLDR 2 U 2
2TL2DR?

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If it becomes about track capable vehicles then a $42k US Camaro 1LE will walk almost all sports cars up to $100k. A Camaro ZL1 1LE at $65k will take care of all of the rest at a much higher curb weight.
[insert joke about how the Camaros better be a lot faster because the enormous blind spots force a passing method that's like 1. line up close to the guy you have to pass, 2. floor the accelerator, 3. move your car over and hope for the best]
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post #19 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-22-2019, 07:11 AM
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I just can't wrap my head around the idea of a Lotus SUV. Isn't a SUV the complete antithesis of everything Lotus stands for? Fully leather interior, 67 way power seats, DVD screens in the backseat, etc, doesn't really fit into "add lightness." That, and I think Range Rover has already cornered the niche market of really capable but completely unreliable SUVs that only rich soccer moms who who never take them off road anyway would buy.
Some of the cars Chapman built weren't all that light. Don't kid yourself, were he alive today, if he had to build tanks to keep the company going, and pay for racing and his interest in planes, he'd do it.

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post #20 of 23 (permalink) Old 01-22-2019, 08:35 AM Thread Starter
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4380r, you must be the biggest Lotus supporter in the known universe. Quite an impressive list of cars owned!
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