After three years of good profit between 1998 and 2000, Lotus went into a slump with losses in 2001 and 2002 because of manufacturing problems and the downturn in the engineering consultancy business.
It turned the corner for the year ended March 31, 2003 with an operating profit of 4.3 million pounds sterling and this improved to 5.1 million pounds sterling in the year just ended.
For the current year, it is optimistic of much improved numbers, now that it is going to export the Lotus Elise to the United States from this month. Clive Dobson, manufacturing director of Lotus Cars, the car manufacturing arm of Group Lotus, said the company has been producing some 2,500 hand-built cars annually in the last two years but this is going to pick up to between 4,000 and 4,500 cars annually from this year, especially with the pent-up demand from North America, which accounts for half of the global sports car market.
He explained that Lotus Cars had not been able to export the Elise to the US earlier because it had to comply with certain specifications peculiar to that market.
Dobson said the US version of the Elise was launched at the Los Angeles Motor Show late last year and received rave reviews. Orders have started flowing in and all the company’s production for this year has been sold out, he said.
He also said the introduction of two new models - the Elise IIIR and the Exige - earlier this year had received good response and are expected to drum up better sales for the company.
As for Lotus Engineering, Bill Williams, head of strategy at Group Lotus, said revenue from this division for this year is forecast at 100 million pounds sterling and 90 per cent of its work is for external clients.