Lotus boss Jean-Marc Gales has reaffirmed plans for a raft of new product – including a potential SUV – in the future of a company buoyed by profitability and a successful launch into the US market in 2016.
Besides the long-awaited, next-generation Elise sportscar, which is still three years away from release, Gales has confirmed new updates and reconfigurations across the current Lotus line-up, the most pivotal of which is a potential SUV no doubt aimed at increasing the fortunes of a company that, from August through the latter half of 2016, turned its first profit since 2000.
Speaking to Car, Gales says that Lotus has been working on an SUV prototype – though such a model, or range of models, might only be feasible if co-operation is outsourced. “We need a technical partners, which are what we are currently looking for,” he explains.
Much like Cayenne did for Porsche (with its Volkswagen tie-up), a potential volume-selling Lotus SUV could open up the purse strings to allow the Norfolk, England-based concern to keep its sportscar ranges ‘pure’. Serious cash-flow might also inject heightened levels of technological advancement and quality that, traditionally, haven’t exactly been the marque’s strongest suits.
Key to the complexion of Lotus’s future range is how its fortunes fare in the US, where the brand launched with the Evora 400 back in August, a car said to spin the largest profit margin in the current range.
Initial US orders have been healthy, says Gales, though Lotus has set some bullish sales targets in the lead up to 2020, when the Elise – with its newly developed chassis built to meet US road-going homologation regulations – gets a properly global release. The sportier, more focused, just-launched Evora Sport 410 lands in the US in July this year.
Rumoured since 2014 and now confirmed by Gales is a forthcoming, open-top Evora Roadster.
“We will do (a Roadster),” Gales explains. “(The coupe) is so solid, structurally. An open version will not add weight. The engineers have a clear target: don’t add weight.”
Also on the Lotus radar, if yet to be given a green light, is a 4-Eleven model, which would sit as a slightly tamer version of the marque’s hard-core, open-top 3-Eleven track day special for the road.