The small car platform was developed under the ownership of Italian entrepreneur Romano Artioli – who also owned Bugatti at the time - however Lotus was sold to Malaysian government-owned Proton brand in 1996 following the financial collapse of Bugatti (which was sold to Volkswagen Group in 1998).
The Lotus small car platform has underpinned the Lotus Elise, Exige, Europa, 2-Eleven, 340R and their racing variants with the Evora being the only exception. It also formed the basis for the Tesla Roadster.
The platform signified Lotus as the first manufacturer to use an extruded and bonded aluminium setup, which in its current form weighs just 68kg.
“The small car platform was a landmark development in 1995 and developed at the right time in the company’s history. Yet, in an environment of continuous improvement, while a correlation exists between today’s platform and the first of the lightweight, bonded and extruded aluminium structures, it has altered radically. It remains a benchmark in light weight and efficiency and is as advanced and market-leading today as it was 20 years ago,” said Jean-Marc Gales, CEO of Group Lotus.
The 40,000th car on the platform is a Lotus Elise 20th anniversary edition.
Lotus is currently investigating the potential to create an SUV, with Gales previously stating that if plans go ahead, the company would “reinvent the category” and would produce a model “that is very light, very fast on the track and has outstanding handling”.
In 2014 Lotus sold 61 cars in Australia. In the first three months of 2015 the figure sits at 18, down from 21 during the same period last year.