The iconic sports car is set to be indirectly replaced at Lotus by the upcoming Emira coupe.
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British sports car brand Lotus is open to selling the rights to its Elise sports car to a third-party manufacturer when the iconic model goes out of production by the end of this year, according to a new report from Automotive News Europe.

Speaking to the outlet late last week, company managing director Matt Windle said: “If the right project and the right partner came along, I do not see why [we wouldn’t sell off the tooling for the Elise] – It's a wonderful car.”

The Elise nameplate was launched in 1996, and has been renewed for three 'Series' generations. The current model – which weighs just 866kg – derives power from a 1.6-litre Toyota-derived four-cylinder petrol engine, sending drive to the rear wheels through six-speed manual transmission.

Earlier this year, Lotus confirmed the Elise – along with its more potent Exige and Evora range-mates – would be succeeded by the all-new Emira coupe, set to the brand’s last internal combustion model.

Little is yet known about the vehicle, however rumours out of Europe suggest buyers will have a choice of two engines: a 2.0-litre turbocharged 'M139' four-cylinder petrol plant from the Mercedes-AMG A45 S hot hatch, and a 3.5-litre supercharged V6 from the outgoing Evora.

Lotus has a history of selling of tooling and platforms to third-party manufacturers.

In 1973 the rights to its ultra-light Seven sports car were off-loaded to British company Caterham – which continues to build the model to this day – while in 1995 it sold the design of its front-wheel-drive Elan sports car to then-small Korean car maker Kia.