Group Lotus CEO preferring an SUV as its next vehicle

Article by Andrew Christian, on March 9, 2015

While carmakers are racing to add more gadgets into their vehicle offerings, Group Lotus is removing them, so says its chief executive Jean-Marc Gales. He told Reuters in an interview that the carmaker’s customers have no intention to let go of the wheel. Gales noted that while Lotus’ analogue models like the Evora flagship may eventually be equipped more digital controls, electronics and software, the priority is a return to the lean essentials -- which means getting rid of unnecessary gadgets.

"We had an electronically opening glove box, which in a sports car is worse than useless," he remarked at the Geneva auto show, adding that he took it out. While Lotus is resisting adding more gadgets to its models, it found hard to resist other trends. For instance, the next Lotus vehicle could be a crossover SUV, Gales remarked.

Lotus has been known for its aluminum chassis technology that results to stronger yet lighter material. Lotus is also known for its VH architecture used by a generation of Aston Martins.

The carmaker posted GBP71 million ($108 million) in losses in the previous fiscal year but could headed into a turnaround under Gales, who is just 10 months into his job after working as marketing chief at Volkswagen and second-in-command at Peugeot.

He remarked that a sales network expansion has allowed to Lotus to be pace for 2,000 deliveries in the current year ending March 31, 2015 – reflecting a 62-percent surge over on the previous fiscal year.

The carmaker aims to sell 3,500 vehicles in the fiscal year 2016-2017, when it targets a return to profit. The GBP72,000 Evora 400 and a coming roadster variant are vital to a possible comeback for the brand in the United States.

Lotus’ engineers have changed some parts and even dropped others to trim 22 kg off the Evora while adding a bigger supercharger -- a "power up, weight down" approach that Gales plans to implement on the Exige and the entry-level Elise.

The model revamps is expected to reduce both input costs and manufacturing time by around 10 percent. Gales vowed that Lotus would "reinvent” the premium crossover category instead of just simply join it. "We'd do an SUV that is very light, very fast on the track and has outstanding handling."

Topics: lotus, ceo, suv

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