Lotus's sports car range will (at last) undergo a major shake-up this decade, with the British brand confirming the arrival of "a new series of sports cars" set to launch in the coming years.
The new models will not sit alongside the existing Elise, Exige and Evora sports cars, but rather replace them entirely, with the existing cars to end production by the end of 2021 – marking the end of a trio of nameplates in use since the Elise's debut in 1995.
While specific details of the new cars have yet to be confirmed, a teaser image released by Lotus previews a trio of low-slung coupes, with styling and LED daytime-running light signatures inspired by the Evija electric hypercar.
However, prior to the launch of the above three – understood to be direct replacements for the Elise, Exige and Evora – will be the debut of the first of Lotus's new sports-car range, a car codenamed 'Type 131' – following the Type 130 and Type 129 codes given to the latest Evija and 2016-18 3-Eleven track car respectively.
Given Lotus's confirmation that production of Type 131 prototypes will commence sometime this year, it's likely the all-new Lotus sports car reported earlier this week for a debut in mid-2021 will in fact be the Type 131, with the report courtesy of company CEO Phil Popham in an interview with publication Automotive News Europe.
During the aforementioned interview, Popham confirmed the unnamed model would offer variants priced from £55,000 to £105,000 (AU$100,000 to AU$185,000), roughly overlapping with the current, three-pronged Lotus line-up – suggesting the three new cars shown in the teaser image could in fact all be rebodied, uniquely-powered variants of the same Type 131 model, pitched at different price points.
No details have been confirmed regarding the Elise, Exige and Evora replacements pictured in the teaser above.
The assortment of new models will be produced at the British brand's plant in Hethel, UK, which will undergo a £100 million (AU$177 million) expansion comprising the consolidation of two "sub-assembly facilities" into one central location, and the recruitment of 250 new employees in engineering and manufacturing.
While Lotus's 2021 will primarily focus on its expanding future, the company promises a "full range of activities" to celebrate the final year of production of the 26-year-old Elise, 21-year-old Exige and 12-year-old Evora – cars which combined have reached around 55,000 homes over their lifecycles.
"This year will be hugely significant for Lotus with new facilities coming on stream, a new sports car entering production and new levels of efficiency and quality that only a new car design and factory can deliver. Despite the continuing global challenges, Lotus has emerged from 2020 strong and on track in the delivery of our Vision80 business plan", said CEO Phil Popham, CEO of Lotus Cars.
"As our Vision80 strategy illustrates, Lotus is all about looking forward, and our future is full of continuous innovation. In 2021 however, we will be reflecting on the legacy of our current range, starting with the Elise, a sports car that genuinely revolutionised the automotive industry, not only because it is a legend-in-its-own-lifetime but also for its impact on car design and technology."
Lee Knappett, CEO of Lotus Cars Australia, added "We are looking forward to the arrival of the new series Lotus sports car. It is exciting to think about a car that will deliver the all important Lotus DNA of ‘For the Drivers’, in a platform that has broad audience appeal."
"At present, we are working with the factory to secure our final allocation of the current Elise, Exige and Evora range before production ceases. We anticipate global demand to be strong for the last of these iconic cars so we have already placed the first of our stock orders."
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