Lotus has unveiled its new Exige S model (well, perhaps more accurately a facelift on the current model) at the opening of a new Lotus merchandise store in London, but large uncertainties for the brand remain.

The store opening and Exige S unveil are ostensibly a positive development for the brand after a turbulent period in which its new Malaysian owner, DRB-Hicom, sacked the CEO and froze spending on new product development while it reviews the business plan. An attitude of 'new realism' was also suggested by Lotus withdrawing from exhibiting at this year's Paris Motor Show (Europe's largest auto show this year, so it's a big decision). 

However, the presence of a high-powered delegation from DRB-Hicom at the store opening and their meeting with a UK government minister (Vince Cable, business secretary) this week can also be taken as signs of commitment from the new owners. 

Lotus said that the Exige S is the centrepiece of the 'state-of-the-art' store, which is in a landmark building that once housed the famous Café Royal, just a short distance from Piccadilly Circus in London's upscale West End district. Besides branded clothing, the store sells scale model Lotus cars for collectors and bespoke bicycles designed by Lotus engineers. The store sounds a little like brand-building largesse (Ferrari does pretty well with brand merchandise, but that's Ferrari), but it was probably too far down the road for the new owners to can straight away, even if they wanted to. (And, hey, maybe it will be good for the Lotus brand and its many admirers. I, for one, will be sure to check it out soon.) 

In a sign of 'business as usual' the shop opening and sports car unveiling were described by Lotus as marking 'a new chapter for both Lotus and its parent company Proton after being taken over by Malaysian conglomerate DRB-Hicom earlier this year'.

We're still waiting to see a new business plan though. How many new Lotus cars will be in it? Will it herald a return to traditional Lotus values and an end to the 'British Porsche' aspirations that were at the heart of Bahar's plans?

One thing's for sure, we will be spared any 'dawn of a new era'-type hyperbole at Paris this year. Non-attendance for Lotus probably makes good sense at this point. It avoids the awkward questions and unfavourable comparisons with Lotus' presence in Paris two years ago. It was at Paris in 2010 that Dany Bahar astonished journalists as he unveiled the five all-new models that were part of his super-ambitious five-year plan.

The future direction for Lotus ought to be a lot clearer by the time we get to the Geneva Show next March. Expect a regrouped Lotus to be present at that one.

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Show the press release

Lotus Cars unveils new sports car at opening of flagship store

 

Lotus cars took the wraps off their new Exige S sports car as they opened a flagship store in the heart of London’s West End.

 

 

The new car is the centerpiece of a state-of-the-art store, which is spread over 4,800 sq. feet of floor space in a landmark building that once housed the famous Café Royal, just a short distance from Piccadilly Circus.

 

The shop opening and sports car unveiling mark a new chapter for both Lotus and its parent company PROTON after being taken over by Malaysian conglomerate DRB-HICOM earlier this year. DRB-HICOM with its vast experience and presence in the entire automotive industry value chain, coupled with long-standing collaborations with other global automotive giants reiterated their commitment to drive this iconic British brand to greater success.

 

Group Managing Director of DRB-HICOM and Executive Chairman of PROTON Dato’ Sri Haji Mohd Khamil Jamil said: “We can derive many synergies between DRB-HICOM, PROTON and Lotus; and we reaffirm our full and long-term commitment to raise Lotus to the next level of success. With a future of increased productivity and cooperation ahead, Lotus is destined to join the ranks of the great luxury performance brands of the world.”

 

The 170mph high-performance Exige S with a supercharged V6 engine caused a sensation when it was announced at the Frankfurt motor show last year. The first cars will begin rolling off the production line at the company’s HQ at Hethel, Norfolk, later this month.

 

Lotus Chief Operating Officer Aslam Farikullah said: “The car represents the very best of Lotus. Its aerodynamic appearance is race-track inspired, as is the interior. Every detail from the racing twin-piston front caliper brakes, to the glossy black wheels and lightweight aluminum bonded structure has the Lotus mark of excellence about it.”

 

The board of DRB-HICOM met with British Trade Secretary Dr Vince Cable on Wednesday, shortly before the store was officially opened by Malaysian High Commissioner to the UK, Dato’ Sri Zakaria Sulong.

 

The store focuses on providing clothing, memorabilia and luxury goods aimed at three generations of Lotus followers.

 

There are four collections available:

 

Lotus Originals which targets Lotus owners and its new young audience. It features a relaxed range of clothing aimed at the 25 to 45-year-old age group.

 

The Lotus Heritage collection is inspired by the glorious racing days of the Sixties and Seventies. It has a retro look and it aimed at the top end of the market.

 

Whilst the Performance collection reflects the engineering soul of the brand and its high-performance technology; the range includes polo shirts, T-shirts and outdoors wears.

 

Lotus F1 wear is fast, fun and exciting with a range of clothing and racing accessories.

 

The store also stocks items like scale model cars for collectors and bespoke bicycles designed by Lotus engineers.

 

Opening the store, Mr Sulong highlighted the Lotus brand’s history. “Lotus is such an iconic brand, not just in the UK but internationally as well,” he said.

 

“It represents a heritage that has impacted the world’s automotive industry and a brand that holds so much more potential and relevance in the automotive industry and motorsports today.

“I am indeed honored to be part of this special occasion.”

 

ENDS

 

Notes to Editors:

We have a new media site – http://media.lotuscars.com – which is packed with news, eye-catching images, specs, stats, and videos of everything we’re up to, from our latest models to our heritage, and from engineering developments to grand prix glamour.

Please join us by registering your details. We look forward to strapping you in to your digital driving seat.

 

About Lotus

Group Lotus plc, is based in Norfolk, UK, and has three operating divisions: Lotus Cars, Lotus Engineering and Lotus Racing.

 

Lotus Cars builds world class, high performance sports cars including the award-winning Evora, the iconic Elise and the stunning Exige.

 

Lotus Engineering provides comprehensive and versatile consultancy services to many of the world's OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers and is an internationally recognised automotive engineering consultancy. Global facilities include those in the US, Malaysia, China and offices in Germany andJapan. Lotus is a global high-tech company, committed to driving forward technology for both Lotus Cars and its Engineering clients, spearheading research into such areas as hybrids, electric vehicles and renewable fuels.

 

Lotus Racing (formerly Lotus Motorsport) operates the motorsports activities of Lotus and includes the strategy to return the Lotus name to a great number of series including endurance racing with GT2, GT4 and LMP2, single seater racing with GP2, GP3 and IndyCar. Lotus also competes in Formula 1 with the Lotus F1 Team, racing in the iconic Black and Gold livery.

 

For more information about Group Lotus please contact:

PR Department, Group Lotus plc, Potash Lane, Hethel, Norfolk, UK, NR14 8EZ

Tel: +44 (0)1953 608264 Email: pr@lotuscars.com

 

Original source: Group Lotus plc