Judging by their recent crypic press releases, Lotus is planning something big...
First came the press release from Lotus a few weeks ago, with the tagline, "So you think you've seen all there is to see? Think again," and a picture of Stonehenge attached. It was cryptic by Darren Aronofsky standards, much less press release standards, but it made it clear that Lotus is planning something big. It was widely assumed that this was referring to the long awaited Esprit with Toyota V8 or V10 power. Then things got really strange.
Last week, Auto Express claimed to have learned that Lotus would be presenting not one, but four new cars in Paris. One is assumed to be the aforementioned Esprit replacement, but the other three are thought to consist of two front-engined GT concepts and a roadster concept.
Of course much of this is speculation. What isn't speculation however, is that Lotus recently served all of their European dealerships notice that their sales contracts would be terminated as of July 2012, and that current dealerships would have to reapply for new contracts under new terms.
While no one is exactly sure what, clearly there are big changes coming at Hethel. If the Auto Express report is to be believed, then we might be seeing some cars that are rather antithetic to Colin Chapman's "add lightness" ethos, which has pretty much always defined what Lotus is all about.
Since buying Lotus, Malaysian car company Proton has taken a fairly hands-off approach to operations, but have yet to see any significant return on their investment. Is it possible that this new brand strategy is a result of Proton's desire to see Lotus compete more directly with Ferrari, Lamborghini and Aston Martin and finally turn a profit? Whatever happens, things should become much clearer at the Paris International Auto show in October.