New Models

Lotus developing new platform, Elan – report

An expansion of Lotus’s model range will be headlined by a new platform architecture and the return of the Elan drop-top.
- shares

The Lotus flower is about to bloom again. Britain's Autocar reports the Hethel automaker is planning to reintroduce the drop-top Elan as part of an ambitious expansion of its model range.

Now under the control of Chinese Geely, which has a 51 per cent share in the company, Lotus plans to introduce the Elan as part of CEO Phil Popham’s 'Vision 80' investment program.

Vision 80 has been estimated by Bloomberg as costing £1.5 billion (A$2.8 billion), though Autocar quotes a Lotus spokesman as saying that figure is “very conservative”.

Though the Elan isn’t yet confirmed, Lotus is considering re-introducing the name on a two-seat convertible that’ll be positioned above the Elise. It’s expected to offer the refinement and luxury features expected of a Porsche Boxster rival while still offering Lotus’ lightweight, dynamic nous.

It’ll be underpinned by an all-new, lightweight, rivet-bonded alloy core platform that’ll replace Lotus’s two existing platforms. The current architecture used by the Evora dates back to 2008, while the Elise (above) and Exige’s bones are positively ancient, dating back to 1996.

The new platform is reportedly around two years away and will underpin a range of sports cars, including the Elan. Though no other product details have been confirmed, it’s possible Lotus may dip into their catalogue of heritage names for the Elan's stablemates. A new Esprit is an obvious choice.

Though we haven’t heard anything more about it, Lotus is also reportedly still working on an SUV.

The new platform is said to be sufficiently flexible so as to support multiple wheelbase lengths and track widths. Lotus will, however, keep costs down by employing ‘keep zones’, slices of the architecture shared across all variants. Autocar cites the position of the front wheel relative to the driver’s seat as one of said zones.

Though the Evora’s platform is now over a decade old, Lotus plans to launch a new model underpinned by it late next year. It’s said to be a more ergonomically-friendly coupe with better visibility and a more modern infotainment system, Lotus now having access to the Geely Group’s software and hardware. Unlike the all-electric Evija hypercar, this sports car will use an internal combustion engine.

Lotus already announced earlier this year it’s hiring 200 additional engineers and opening a new engineering centre in the UK. It plans to triple its annual sales to 5000 units and, under Vision 80, it wants to increase them six-fold to 10,000 units by 2029.

The last time we saw such an expansive product plan from the Hethel automaker was in 2010. The five-car plan was spearheaded by ousted CEO Dany Behar and comprised Elise, Elan, Esprit and Elite coupes and the Eterne sedan. The five proposed models (above) were all shown the door shortly after Dany Behar.

Since then, Lotus has changed hands from Proton to Geely. The latter has shown no reservations investing in its acquisitions – witness Volvo’s renaissance – and evidently Lotus is seen as deserving of an infusion of capital.

Stay tuned to CarAdvice for all the latest Lotus coverage.