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I was surfing around the Lotus UK site and I saw this <a href="http://www.lotuscars.co.uk/template.cfm?name=1000th_lotus_elise_customer">press release</a> about them delivering the 1,000th Elise on September 26th.

<i>"Lotus’ new manufacturing facility has enabled us to achieve record production volumes whilst simultaneously achieving our highest ever levels of quality. Demand for the award-winning new Elise has been extremely high and I’m delighted that our 1,000th customer will today take possession of Britain’s Best Driver’s Car*"</i>

I don't know if this # is for sales in the U.K. alone,but it seems remarkably low.

If you look at the unofficial deposit list thread there are over 1,000 pre-orders right now!!!

That number will surely jump after the LA Autoshow.


It boggles the mind that they have been ignoring the US for this long.

This will hopefully keep them around for a while. =)
 

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I dont think they make very much money on elise sales...so it wont necessarily matter. It took a large investment and risk to make the car for america, despite the demand. Proton was willing to take on the venture.

Lotus, I believe, makes most of their money in the engineering department.
 

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That number makes no sense. I have a 2001 car with chassis no 500 or so and that was when it came out! They were making 3000 S1s a year IIRC!

/confused

(or wonder if sales have radically slumped)
 

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1,000th Elise and US importation

I've seen this same press release. As a matter of fact i think it is on the UK web site. The numbers don't sound right to me either. 10,000 maybe, but it can't be 1,000.

As far as why the car hasn't been here until now, there are a couple of reasons.

1) The car was not engineered for the US market for bumper requirements, headlights, etc. (note: see exemption application which has made the rounds in the past 72 hours)

2) The Elise has been up to now powered by a Rover "k" series engine which does not meet EPA req. I suppose there was also an agreement between Rover and Lotus for so many units to be purchased over a period of time and financially until now it didn't make sence to add additional engines to the line up.

3) The Elise was sold out for years in Europe. As a matter of fact, if memory serves me correctly, the Elise was projected to sell 750 units annually. I believe they have been selling about 4 x that each year since it's intro in 96(?). With demand so high in Europe, why go through all the head ache to get it into the US? As it was, the car was in such high demand people were buying the cars waiting 9-12 months to get it, driving it for 6 months and then selling them for a profit!

4) The M100 (elan) of 1991 really burned Lotus. Please note that there was very little wrong with the car other than it was about 12 months too late, 10K to expensive and was released during a bad economic period in the US. Regardless, it left a very bad taste in Lotus' mouth regarding the US market.

5) Lotus had ownership transition from Buggatti to Proton. The Elise was conceived and introduced under Buggatti control (just as they were entering bankruptcy) and then switched in part to Proton. It wasn't until the Buggatti family was removed from ownership about 2 years ago that the car was committed to the US.

6) Lotus planned the M250 to make it's intro into the US about 12 months ago but found that the car would need major changes to meet US regs and had to can the program and start over again. This caused a start/ stop in the fed. Elise program since the theory was if the M250 could be sold here in 2003, then the Elise could wait until 2006-7 when it would meet fed reg.

Just a couple of ideas and thoughts
 

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I saw the M100 Elan at the LA Auto Show in the early 1990s and would have been happy to have one, but it was way too expensive for me (I don't remember the actual price). And they should not have re-used the Elan name, as it did not really evoke an image of the original from the 1960s.
 

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why it was called the elan

the M100 was first the m90 and then the x100 and finally the m100. The program began in the early 80's but Chapman killed it. It then resurfaced a few years later, after Chapmans death, when Toyota came to Lotus' rescue and the car was to be mid engined and shared with an undamed Toyota product (gee..... I wonder which one). The project was again scraped because the design was awful and no progressive enough. When GM took over in the late 80's the car was abole to use the GM parts bin and the result was the m100. The elan name was favored by Mike Kimberly (the CEO at the time) and besides, GM love to reuse old names. I think the final straw was that the Miata came to market about 12 months earlier at less than 1/2 the cost (15k vs. 39,990). The Miata was actually designed as a modern interpretation of the orignal Elan. Mazda went so far as to actually call Lotus in the mid 80's and ask if they could help them get their hands on some vintage examples. Proof is if you place an original elan next to a S1 miata, you'll notice the design silhiloutte is exactly the same and even the interior layout is close. Mechanically the cars are very close as well. Although the M100 is a great car in and of itself (still probably the easiest driving/ best built Lotus and arguably still the fastest point "A" to point "B" car ever built), I have to admit that Mazda built a better Elan.
 
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