Blog: Lotus lunch at the RAC
Dave Leggett | 17 December 2010
I attended a Lotus media lunch earlier this week at the RAC Club in London (marvellous institution, very old style gentlemen's club; some superb paintings on the walls; and the staff will have severe words with you if you are not attired in business suit with collar and tie).
The latest ambitious plans for Lotus certainly make for a good story and Dany Bahar seems to be enjoying himself telling everyone how great the future is going to be. The business plan is very public. There's just the small matter of execution and making it all happen now and there are more than a few hostages to fortune if anything slips. A few media colleagues said they'd heard it all before from Lotus. I know what they mean and it isn't difficult to be cynical, but this time it has the ring of 'we're really going for it because this is it, we really have to make it work in order to have a future'.
It is an impressive sounding plan and Lotus does have a strong brand with heritage, a manufacturing base and plenty of engineering expertise. Is annual production of 8,000 units a big deal, really? Porsche does 75,000 a year. It 'just' needs to all be brought together in a coherent way. But having a management team with a plan is a fundamental prerequisite to do that. They seem to have that, so there are certainly grounds for optimism. I just hope they can take Lotus forward with the new models and do it in a way that keeps their loyal fan base and the Lotus spirit intact, while still getting the brand out to new customers.
Tom Purves – used to be head of BMW USA – was a real gent and a pleasure to hear chatting about the industry over lunch. He seems to be really enjoying himself in his advisory capacity with Lotus. As Dany Bahar said, they have a young and 'super-ambitious' team, and some advice from wise and experienced heads is a good thing to add in to the mix. Bob Lutz is also part of the Lotus advisory council and I'd imagine he must have a few interesting things to say. And, well, Maximum Bob doesn't mess around when it comes to letting people know what he thinks does he? Something in Autocar caught my eye...
Still on Lotus, the latest edition of the e-magazine that we produce on behalf of Lotus Engineering – proActive, is now available. There's more on the Lotus strategy, as well as an interview I did with Lotus Design Director Donato Coco and an interview with Torotrak's CEO.