The Lotus Cars Community banner

1 - 20 of 34 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
389 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I just spent the day at Lotus in Hethel. Had a factory tour then driving instruction on the track. Asked a lot of questions during the factory tour re: US spec cars! :) Saw ALL the new colours in person. Despite the miserable wet conditions, I took an S2 Elise over 100mph on the test track with the instructor yelling "More! More!!" as we dove through the chicane! -eek- After a few laps confidence built and I was told I was a "good little driver" :D :clap: I have been on a few track days and an advanced road driving course (with a traffic cop), so I know the basics and understand racing lines, but I've never had the confidence to put it all into practice with full power through the corners. The combination of the Elise and the fantastic instructor gave me that confidence, and I felt the car moving in a way that I've only felt when other people give me demo laps. G-force tastic! :D It's convinced me to go for LSS and put in some serious track time.

As I said, I asked a lot of questions on the factory tour, so if you want to know anything fire away, before I forget!

The stuff I do remember is:

- they are currently building 97 cars per week

- 42 of these are US cars (they are aiming for 40, but getting extras done in overtime - good lads!!)

- cars are *not* colour batched (they all go into the spray booth separately, so colour batching doesn't save any time)

- cars are built in the order they are ordered

- the US car has slightly softer tyres than the Euro one (convinced me to go LSS as I'm used to UK-spec cars)

- I was told that the LSS/Exige tyres deserved a bit of extra care in the wet, but they weren't anything to be terrified of, and in the dry they would be incredibly sticky. ie: in the wet, don't stick your foot down coming out of a sharp bend, but other than that you should be ok. For me with a TVR this is standard common sense practice anyway, so I feel confident going with LSS. Esp. as in Texas the dry road conditions will outweight the wet.

- the Toyota engine is tuned by Yamaha and revs to 8600!! Basically a bike engine... :clap:

Ok, I'm a little giddy... ;)
 

·
Forum Founder
Joined
·
29,083 Posts
girlracer said:
- cars are *not* colour batched (they all go into the spray booth separately, so colour batching doesn't save any time)

- cars are built in the order they are ordered
Nice review and congrats!

Seems like everyone that tours the factory comes back saying the cars are not batched in color. Yet I have someone else at Lotus UK and someone at Lotus USA telling me that they were. I know that Lotus USA was not thrilled to find out that cars were not being built in order of orders taken.

So I am not sure where the real truth is. Seems cars are not arriving in the US in order of orders taken. But maybe there is another explanation.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
389 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Oh, and there were hares on the track! :eek: (hares as in long-eared rabbits, not as in stuff on your head).

About the colours...:

- GRAPHITE GREY
V. dark grey - darker than the old Gunmetal Grey. I parked the dark silver Cooper S next to a graphite Exige in the car park, and the Exige was a slightly darker hue. So if you've seen a Mini Cooper S in dark silver, think that colour but a tad darker.

- STORM TITANIUM
There were *loads* of these! It is a very beigey silver. I wasn't overly keen to be honest, looked a bit like a Lexus colour... There is a definite big distinction between Arctic Silver / Storm Ti and Graphite, that is not so apparent on the dealer paint swatch cards.

- KRYPTON GREEN
-eek- Wow. That is bright. It's practically fluorescent.

- NIGHTFALL BLUE
Gorgeous. Much darker than I had expected. Darker than the old Cobalt Blue. V. classy.

- BORDEAUX RED
Again, much darker than I had expected. Lovely deep wine red.

Still don't know what colour I am getting.... I thought this visit would help, but it's actually just added a few more colours to my "short" list!

Ardent Red and Magnetic Blue looked wonderful as well, freshly painted and lacquered, they had a fantastic shine.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
389 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Re: Re: Just back from the factory!

Randy Chase said:
Nice review and congrats!

Seems like everyone that tours the factory comes back saying the cars are not batched in color. Yet I have someone else at Lotus UK and someone at Lotus USA telling me that they were. I know that Lotus USA was not thrilled to find out that cars were not being built in order of orders taken.

So I am not sure where the real truth is. Seems cars are not arriving in the US in order of orders taken. But maybe there is another explanation.
Well to be honest, I don't think there would be any time saved in them batching colours. They have a single-car sized paint booth, and the cars are sprayed by hand with a spray gun. One car's worth of panels (on a moving jig) goes into the booth and gets sprayed. They spray all the parts together so the paint is the same shade all over the car. Even if the next car is the same colour, they clean the gun and load it with new paint to make sure the panels all match. Car comes out, next car goes in. There is literally not room to spray more than one at a time.

When the US cars are built, they are taken over to a storage warehouse and wait to get put into containers. I expect even if they are built in the order they were ordered, the shipping process would mess things up a bit.

Also, although they told us was that the cars are built in the order that the orders come in / build sheet is raised, we don't really know in what order the orders get to the factory floor...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
159 Posts
Thanks Girl Racer

Sounds like a wonderful experience despite the rain.

Did you see any Blue or Red leather touring pack cars? Interested to see how the blue interior blends with the exterior colors
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
60 Posts
thaha, it seems they keep bulls***ing on factory tours :D A good practice is to not listen to the guide, but instead to look *throroughfully* at whiteboards and walls.

- they are currently building 97 cars per week
- 42 of these are US cars (they are aiming for 40, but getting extras done in overtime - good lads!!)
I have photograhic evidence that in week 29 there were 81 Elises and 20 VX220/Speedsters built which went into F8 Finals. Of these 81 Elises 35 were "Croft" specification, i.e. Federal ones. Again, 4 out of these 35 didn't pass the final QM test. Which leaves you with 31 US Elises finished in week 29. (Anybody want to know the VINs :cool: ...

errrm EDIT, mis-read of the pictures taken: "81" was the target for Elises, effectively there were just 63 Elises arriving at QM checkpoint. On the same, just 19 of 20 VX's entered this QM stage.


cars are built in the order they are ordered
maybe they START the built in the incoming paper order, but QM leads to a *lot* of dropouts from the current line at various stages, like rolling road or paint inspection - some papers I saw indicate a tightening of paint buy-off rules effective Jul 5th which right now do apparantly lead to a shed load of error at the paint inspection stage.


the Toyota engine is tuned by Yamaha and revs to 8600!! Basically a bike engine...
The engine is not "tuned" by Yamaha, it is a Yamaha design at last which Toyota bought IIRC. Have a look a the casting of the block... "Yamaha" written in there. This is nothing a "tuner" can do...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
389 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
I saw red leather, but no blue. The chap doing the tour let me have a look inside (no touching though!) a finished US spec Sportspack car (silver with red leather), after I told him I was getting one. :) I much prefer the new interior to the older one. Looks very 'complete'. Weirdly, I was the only one in my tour group (of about 10) to have owned an Elise or be buying one. No one else really asked any questions, except "how much do they cost?" and "what colours do they come in?".

The red leather is lovely - quite dark, not bright red. It's that classic sportscar dark red. The leather has a nice matt finish.

I really can't emphasise enough how well these cars are now put together. He said that when GM came on board and asked them to build the VX220, they really shook up the quality control and demanded higher standards. Not only did Lotus take these standards on board, they bettered them. For example, after the first 5 stages of the factory line, the cars are checked over in full. If there is a problem, this means that only the last 5 cars are affected. GM introduced this process, but they do the checks at 10 cars. Lotus halved that.

When it comes to testing the cars for being waterproof, they are driven into a booth which has water jets above, below and at all sides, jetting water at the car from all angles for 2 mins at 90psi. Most other car manufacturers don't bother with underside jets. Lotus put other cars through to check out the competition, and Porsche Boxsters let in water through the floor... Oh, and if you order a hard top with the car, it gets driven through the water test booth twice - once with the soft top and once with the hard top. Another reason to order one with the car if you're thinking about getting one later.

They seem to have struck a really great balance between using computers where they help (rolling road, torque settings, laser alignment), but using humans to actually do the work, and to do manual checks of everything all along the way. They even do a 'dry run' of fitting all the car's panels together before it goes in to be painted. For every single car!! It must take ages. But they do it because finding that something doesn't quite align after it's painted means fixing it and repainting, so not only wasting time but risking a slightly different shade of paint. They seem to really be proud of their cars and want every one of them to be perfect.

So yeah, in summary(!), I was very impressed... :bow:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
389 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Stefan said:
thaha, it seems they keep bulls***ing on factory tours :D
Hey I'm just reporting what they told me... However, it was me who raised the "are they batched by colour?" question, so I don't really see why I would be told anything but the truth - at that point nobody had been told I was waiting for a car. What would be in it for them to lie?... :confused:

I don't care if they're batched or not, I was just curious since the paint booth was so small and we were just told every car is painted by a person, not a robot. :)

Stefan said:
A good practice is to not listen to the guide, but instead to look *throroughfully* at whiteboards and walls.
I did see a clipboard of buildsheets. They appeared to be mixed colours and totally mixed specs (Fed/UK/Euro, different engines, wheels, etc.)

Stefan said:
I have photograhic evidence that in week 29 there were 81 Elises and 20 VX220/Speedsters built which went into F8 Finals. (etc. etc.)...
The figures I quoted were last weeks. Obviously they differ a little because the cars are built by humans...

Hey, and you're not supposed to take photos!

Stefan said:
maybe they START the built in the incoming paper order, but QM leads to a *lot* of dropouts from the current line at various stages...
Absolutely - good point. The numerous inspection points during the build process certainly allow for cars to overtake each other on the assembly line.

Stefan said:
The engine is not "tuned" by Yamaha, it is a Yamaha design at last which Toyota bought IIRC. Have a look a the casting of the block... "Yamaha" written in there. This is nothing a "tuner" can do...
I sincerely apologise for getting this minor detail a little mixed up. Please bear in mind I did 7 laps of Hethel between then and now!! It's amazing I can remember my own name! :p
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
60 Posts
Girlracer,

didn't want to sound offensive, sorry if that got a bit towards a wrong direction. My point is that on factory tours you will hear a lot of "what you want to hear" - they do not necessarily tell the truth (why should they...).

You are right about the single paint jobs, no problem there-in.

I did see a clipboard of buildsheets. They appeared to be mixed colours and totally mixed specs (Fed/UK/Euro, different engines, wheels, etc.)
Right.

The figures I quoted were last weeks. Obviously they differ a little because the cars are built by humans...
I doubt the build numbers of week 30, as they had to set up factory 8 again. On Sunday they gave factory 8 to Classic Team Lotus to display several of their F1 Loti. So they needed to bring everything they hided and stored away in position again. Thursday and Friday as the last workdays before the event they did just release 3 Elises.

Hey, and you're not supposed to take photos!
At the CTL event cameras were strictly allowed. So it was quite fun to stroll along in factory 8 and check what they didn't remove - which was A LOT. I wonder how many of the 10.000 ppl did however notice these jewels of information.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
389 Posts
Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
zvezdah1 said:
Exc. report GR, you came out with some great information.

BTW> Are you on the waiting list at any US dealership yet? Relocating to Austin in Sept right?
Chris
Hi Chris,

Yep - relocating on Sept 1. I have an order in with Autostrada. Not sure when it's arriving though... and I'm not known for my patience, esp. when it comes to getting new cars! :D Let me know if you see any more on ebay!... :(
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
389 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Stefan said:
Girlracer,

didn't want to sound offensive, sorry if that got a bit towards a wrong direction.
Thanks for saying that Stefan. :) I felt a little shot down, running to my laptop all full of interesting info and being told I had been lied to by those lovely people at Lotus! :p


My point is that on factory tours you will hear a lot of "what you want to hear" - they do not necessarily tell the truth (why should they...).
I'm sure that happens. I didn't really understand why it would be worth lying to me since there wasn't really an answer I wanted to hear - but maybe the batching question has been asked a lot by other people recently so they have their answer ready...

To be honest, nobody there today (just the tour guide and Motorsports people) seemed to know as much about the difference between the UK and US cars as I did (I had to inform one of the Motorsports staff that the Exige is not available in America after she asked if I would get one when I moved), so it wouldn't surprise me if other info we were given was wrong. Also, I think sometimes it's hard for full grown men to say "I actually don't know the answer to that car question..." to a young woman, in front of 9 other blokes... By the end the tour guide was making fun of me for knowing so much about the car. Jeez, sorry for having owned one and trying to buy another!!

At the CTL event cameras were strictly allowed. So it was quite fun to stroll along in factory 8 and check what they didn't remove - which was A LOT. I wonder how many of the 10.000 ppl did however notice these jewels of information.
That is cool. They were v. strict about the camera thing today. Had to leave my phone-cam at the security gate. I can understand the 'no cameras in the factory' part I guess (although TVR allow it), but it was a shame not to get any pics of the track part of the day.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,766 Posts
Having toured the factory last week I can tell you the cars are not colored batched, the cars in production and waiting shipment are not/were not an any particular color group, it was all different colors.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,610 Posts
girlracer said:
- the Toyota engine is tuned by Yamaha and revs to 8600!! Basically a bike engine... :clap:
Acutually, Yamaha's bike engines redline at 13,700 and 15,500. ;)
 
1 - 20 of 34 Posts
Top