Lotus needs to sell Elise in order to survive (at least as a car manufacturer). Historically sales have dropped for the Elise, even with it's limited quanities.
Umm.. No? The initial S1 production was scheduled for about 600 cars a year. And this was exceeded to an extreme of selling almost 3000 annually at the end.
The 'problem', however is that when the S2 was introduced with a more realistic 3000 to 3500 a year production number a few things happened:
- production got off to a slow start. Many teething problems with road approval and materials. This meant that demand was high, but only 1000 or so cars were actually built that year...
- dot-com bubble burst, so much less buyers for a 'toy' car. (add our car-taxes in europe and these are expensive little cars!)
Nowadays the Elise is doing OK considereing the bad economic situation here.
In fact, if not for the VX220/ Speedster, Lotus would have had been in trouble because of access capability.
The Speedster/VX deal gave lotus cars a lot of money up front because this was a closed deal. They would build the Vx/Speedster in fixed number for a fixed time and got a bag of money.
The Speedster/VX itself has been a resounding failure when it comes to sales numbers, but then again it never was meant to be a big seller, just an 'image bulding' excersise for GM.
The bag of money gave lotus the possibility of building the new factory with the 10.000 unit/year capacity.
But the main reason for the Elise going to the US is not the VX/Speedster, but the cancellation of the M250 and the end of the Esprit production.
They simply don't have eny other models left to sell in the US.
The US elise is basically a 'test bed' for the M260 and new Esprit introduction in the USA, so they can get a feel or the market and see the hurdles to take with regulations and such.
Variations of the car and the line will be what keeps Lotus alive in the future.
Correct, but don't fotget one thing...
When comparing it to boxters, MR2's etc. etc. you also have to look at the amounts these cars sell in.
These cars sell in tens to hundred of thousands each year.
The US Elise is only supposed to sell around 3 to 5000 a year. I can't imagine that with a US population of 140-million or so (am I correct? even more these days?) there won't be enough buyers every year even when they never change it again.
The Lotus factory capacity is only about 10 to 15000 cars a year and this should be split among 3 models soon:
- All Elises and derivatives (eg. Exige)
- M260's (aka. boxter sized GT)
- Esprit replacement (V8 supercar bla-bla-bla)
That's it.. Lotus will do fine if they can max this out.
The M260 should be much more of a 'regular' car and I would not be surprised to see slushboxed versions of these. These won't be real back-to-basics sportscars like Elise, but much more Grand-Touring (GT) style cars to cover great distances at high speed in comfort.
BTW.. Real sequential boxes (not these abominations like BMW's SMG or ferrari paddle-shifts) are available from Quaife for the Elise. Cost is significant though.. Around $15000 for the box or so..
I sincerely hope that Lotus doesn't allow the Elise to become something it isn't and never was meant to be: a comfortable normal car that's on the wish-list of 'joe public'..
It was designed for the 'car nut' and should reallyremain that way because that's it's niche market and selling point.