Let's face it, Proton purchased a niche auto manufacture that built focused vehicles for a rather limited consumer base. That is not a terribly profitable business model. Sadly, it is a model that has led to the demise of some great brands in recent years. TVR, rest in peace.
After years of loss, breaking even and minimal gains, it is understandable that there would be a desire within Proton to broaden the brand. Unfortunately, the current management team has not left a model in the line that firmly embraces the original Lotus philosophy. It is an indisputable fact that the core Louts brand values have been severely diluted with the adoption of this current strategy.
I am confident that, with clear and appropriate visionary direction
, the Lotus engineering team would deliver vehicles with the Chapman core values intact able to generate greater sales volume. The new management team do not appear to have experience creating production vehicles with limited resources. The last (raw and rattly,
) 10% of the NVH is the most costly to eradicate. No easy solutions here. Time, money and weight.
Lotus will be unable to produce cars with the "refinement" necessary to compete with Porsche, Ferrari etc. without a massive influx of cash. The bid for loans has now failed twice. The investment community knows a good bet when they see it.
The second biggest fail (other than onerous weight gain) is the design language of the new product line. The new design language is quite simply weak
by any emotional or professional assessment. Compared to a broad cross section of todays automotive designers abilities, these are very disappointing. The designs are; not evocative, inelegant, fussy, derivative (late 80s early 90s) and offer far too little differentiation from each other. 15 years from now these designs will look very dated. An S1 or S2 Elise / Exige / 340R will both proudly stand up to the test of time.
Excellent designs would keep the brand exotic beyond its station. Emotionally engaging designs would also make up for the limitations inherent with low volume manufacturing.
All is not lost! There is hope! With the recent acquisition of Caterham cars, it sounds as if the new owners would like to broaden the line with more "usable" extreme sports cars for true automotive enthusiasts. Lotus will be leaving a massive void in the market. The void will be filled by specialists that value the driving experience. True enthusiasts will migrate away from Lotus slowly and inexorably.
Change is good and necessary for growth...
It's just a different market segment and a different consumer.
Apologies for the rant.
Terribly sad to see this turn of events unfold.