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2011 Lotus Elise – Click above for high-res image gallery

Lotus tells Autoblog that production of its North American-spec Elise and Exige models will cease in August.

The lightweight track terror put the English automaker back on the map in the States in 2004, but a federal exemption for a lack of "smart" airbags on the sports cars is about to run out. The waiver ends this year, and combined with Toyota ceasing production of its 2ZZ four-cylinder, NA-bound Lotuses have been a dealt a one-two death blow.

Company officials tell us that production for the UK and the rest of Europe will continue with the new 1.6-liter four pot until the next Elise arrives in 2015. Considering the automaker's penchant for limited edition models, we'd expect at least one or two more market-specific versions to roll out of Hethel before the taps are officially turned off.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 12 Comments
      Jeavis
      • 4 Years Ago
      As an owner of an Elise I'm quite sad to see these models go away. I really love their styling and I'm not too crazy about the direction Lotus is going. This may be the last true Lotus.
      oRenj9
      • 4 Years Ago
      Can't they just apply for an extension? I don't really see the need for a very rare, expensive, low production sports car to be subjected to such strict regulations. The type of person who would pay 40k+ for a car with a four-cylinder and no carpet has probably thought out their decision and are willing to take the risks.
      QAZZY
      • 4 Years Ago
      The feds need new standards for sports cars, so they can maintain their low weight. Have a rollcage and a harness. If you don't want that, you'll have to stick with your heavier airbags. Too bad the upcoming Lotuses will be significantly heavier.
      robzillatypes
      • 4 Years Ago
      RIP to the S2 Elise/Exige. I certainly hope the Evora platform will produce enough sales for the brand, otherwise this is going to be one long year in 2012.
      kevin
      • 4 Years Ago
      I hope someone brings them in as kit cars without engines and transmissions to avoid any federal regs.
      BipDBo
      • 4 Years Ago
      "...a federal exemption for a lack of "smart" airbags on the sports cars is about to run out." That just pisses me off. If you properly use a seatbelt, particularly if it's a good one, you don't need an air bag. What race car has an airbag? If I've got this right, they required air bags, which added cost and weight, and then they required them to turn off if the passenger is under a certain weight because the air bags were killing people. Thanks (or no, thanks) for looking after me, big brother.
        Doug
        • 4 Years Ago
        @BipDBo
        To be clear, the car already has airbags. It just doesn't have the smart ones that don't kill people under a certain weight.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @BipDBo
        [blocked]
      • 4 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Jonathan
      • 4 Years Ago
      Not suprising. I've only seen 3 since 2004. I don't get why, I think they're cool.
      budwsr25
      • 4 Years Ago
      Whats tesla going to do?
      Dwight Bynum Jr.
      • 4 Years Ago
      So, an interior revamp with the inclusion of "smart" airbags couldn't have been planned YEARS ago?! IIRC, aren't they already strapped for cash and looking for investors to get their quintuplet of Paris concept into production? You can't tell me erasing NA sales from the plus column isn't going to hurt their bottom line. Good planning, Lotus...