You have to admire Lotus‘ creativity in coming up with new-ish models from its elderly sports car line up. The Norfolk-based company hasn’t launched any truly fresh sports cars since the Evora in 2008 - the current Elise and Exige are evolutions of the original S1 Elise first shown to the world 25 years ago. And yet, by fiddling with power outputs, suspension options and carbon fibre addendum, we’ve had a constant supply of ‘new’ products.
There’s finally an end in sight for the relentless tweaks, however. The all-new ‘Type 131’ begins production in 2021, and Lotus has confirmed this spells the end for its venerable central trio of performance cars.
It was previously thought the 131 wouldn’t replace any of these models, but Hethel is now saying that 2021 will be the final year of production for the Elise, Exige and Evora. We’re promised a “full programme of activities” to celebrate all of these sports cars, starting with the Elise. There’ll no doubt be last-hurrah special editions for each, too.
Successors are planned for all three, as hinted in the above teaser image. Although Lotus isn’t saying, we’d imagine all will be based on the 131’s architecture, mirroring how the Elise was spun off into the Exige.
One of the three may be a Lotus-branded version of the electric Alpine A110 successor the company is working on via a joint-venture. Along with these cars and the Evija electric hypercar, an SUV is also in the works.
All of this is part of the company’s ‘Vision80’ business plan, which will see 250 jobs created and £100 million of investment pumped in. A big chunk of that sum will go towards manufacturing, with two sub-assembly facilities relocated ‘into one efficient central operation’ in Norwich, enabling Lotus to ramp up production volumes.
Commenting on the news, Lotus CEO Phil Popham said:
“This year will be hugely significant for Lotus with new facilities coming on stream, a new sports car entering production and new levels of efficiency and quality that only a new car design and factory can deliver. Despite the continuing global challenges, Lotus has emerged from 2020 strong and on track in the delivery of our Vision80 business plan.”