The Lotus Exige, Elise and Evora have officially entered their final production year because today Lotus announced a new sports car series will replace them under its Vision80 business strategy.
In a statement released to the media, Lotus CEO Phil Popham has said the new range will kick off with “a new sports car entering production” in 2021.
It’s named the Type 131 and will be built in Norfolk, England, where the company recently invested 100 million pounds (AU$177m) in its manufacturing facilities.
It’ll be the second car released under the company’s forward-looking transformation, joining the Evija hypercar and two other models that remain a mystery.
It’s worth mentioning that the all-electric Evija will also kick off production this year.
Not much is known about the Type 131 except that it will be produced as a prototype first. We also don't know in what month exactly Elise, Exige and Evora production will end.
Although the 131 marks a crossover point in the company’s model portfolio and philosophy, it is reported that it will reject electrification – at least initially.
Sources believe variants down the line will feature batteries given that the company has claimed that every model will feature a BEV derivative.
But Lotus has already begun expanding for the 131, opening 250 jobs in engineering and manufacturing at both its new manufacturing facilities and consultancy firm, Lotus Engineering.
It will also open an Advanced Technology Centre in Warwick later this year for Lotus Engineering.
Finally, it says two sub-assembly sites will be relocated into one “efficient central operation” in Norwich city to cater for the increased volume it expects with the new sports car series.
As for the axed models, the Elise's end comes after 26 years on sale. The Exige will end 21 years of existence, while the Evora has racked up just 12 years on sale - still a long innings by other carmakers' standards.
Lotus says that by the end of this year, these three cars will have accounted for 55,000 sales between them.
Lotus Group’s Vision80 business strategy aims to revolutionise the company by the company's 80th birthday in 2028.
Among a range of objectives is one where “future Lotus products will remain true to the product DNA,” it says, “and embrace Geely group technologies in connectivity, electric propulsion and advanced driver assistance systems.”
Chinese firm Geely Automotive is the controlling shareholder in Lotus, partnered with Malaysian firm Etika Automotive.