Big change at Lotus: Elise, Exige bid farewell, hybrid on the way

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Words: Matthew Hansen
26 Jan 2021

Lotus, an iconic brand that’s announced plenty but actioned little in recent times, has finally bitten the bullet — confirming comprehensive changes to its line-up overnight while giving pointers to its replacement.

The British firm will end production of its current Elise, Exige, and Evora models, marking the end of an era for each nameplate. It’s tipped that this isn’t an obituary; they’ll all return in some capacity.

In lieu of the aforementioned models, Lotus is set to kick off development on a project named internally as the Type 131. Based on a mid-engined, hybrid-petrol format, it’s set to sit above the Evora. Some outlets are claiming it to be a successor to the Espirit. Lotus says it’ll arrive in 2022.

Spy images of a Lotus Type 131 test mule have been spotted online, showing a car that’s similar to the Evora in length and height dimensions, but far wider than the outgoing model — denoted by a whopping set of flared arches and suitably thickened track.

It’s claimed that the new model, and most likely the other sports cars in the line-up, too, will utilise a heavily modified version of the current aluminium architecture, rather than an all-new structure. Some are also tipping that the current Toyota-sourced V6 will stay, too, but with an added in-house hybrid system attached.

Alongside the announcement, Lotus released a teaser image of sorts showing its upcoming fully electric hypercar challenger, the Evija, in front of three new sports cars (their light clusters and silhouettes the only clues as to what they are). It’s thought that the trio represent the Elise, Exige, and Evora’s replacements.

Lotus is taking the change in pace seriously, having recently taken on the task of employing 250 new staff to work at its revamped production facility in Hethel, UK. The changes are part of the firm’s ‘Vision80’ plan, which aims to combine its formerly separate sub-assembly facilities to boost production output.

“As our Vision80 strategy illustrates, Lotus is all about looking forward, and our future is full of continuous innovation,” says Lotus CEO Phil Popham. “In 2021, however, we will be reflecting on the legacy of our current range, starting with the Elise, a sports car that genuinely revolutionized the automotive industry, not only because it is a legend-in-its-own-lifetime but also for its impact on car design and technology.”

 

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