It's not been a great week for Lotus. Seven days ago, the UK-based automaker laid off a quarter of its workforce, terminating "up to 325 jobs." And then, just a few days ago, it was reported that the company would be ending US sales of its well-received Evora due to the expiration of an airbag exemption. The Evora is the only vehicle Lotus sells in the US, meaning its end effectively removes the brand from the market.
Lotus has issued a press release to day, wherein it indicates that a "need to both reshape its organisation and to reduce costs" may result in the loss of "up to 325" jobs. That's a fairly significant number of layoffs for any company, but considering that Lotus currently employs 1,215 people (per the company's bio in the same release), it could mean a full 25-percent of the automaker's workers could soon be sharpening their resumes.
Times have not been easy for Lotus lately, so when its name came up on a list of companies scheduled for a liquidation court, it seemed like the end could be near for the fabled British builder of lightweight sports cars. As it turns out, Lotus was on the Companies Court Winding Up list in the UK due to a contractual dispute with a supplier, and the High Court has since dismissed the case.
Group Lotus will no longer sponsor Lotus F1, according to Autosport.com. The manufacturer pulled its endorsement shortly after parent company Proton announced the sale of Group Lotus to DRB-Hicom. Additionally, Proton won't purchase 50 percent of the race team as previously agreed.
Keen followers of automotive news – particularly the financial side of things – may recognize the name Genii Capital. A couple of years ago, the Luxembourg-based investment firm began acquiring an increasingly large stake in the Renault F1 team. Then, in 2010, the company partnered with F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone in a bid to buy Saab. The latter offer was ultimately rejected, but Genii was evidently not deterred.
More than anything else, Lotus has (historically at least) been about two things: it's serious about lightweight construction (following its founder Colin Chapman's ethos of "adding lightness") and it's quintessentially British. And you could say the same about Gordon Murray.
If anyone knows about turning things around, it's Bob Lutz. After all, he was a naval aviator, and those guys can pull some serious G forces. He's also widely credited with keeping Chrysler alive for longer than it might have been otherwise. But what's he up to these days?
Stick with us here, because this is going to get a little complicated. We have on the one hand Lotus Cars and Group Lotus. On the other we have the current Lotus F1 team. The former – producers of such sportscars as the Elise and the new Elite – is owned by Malaysian state automaker Proton. The former is also Malaysian-owned, but by businessman Tony Fernandes (pictured above, owner also of Air Asia), and uses the name Lotus under license from Proton.
Well, we knew that Lotus personnel had been working with the folks from Tesla Motors on their sexy electric roadster, and today we received a bit of interesting related news. According to a report on EDP24.com (the Norfolk Eastern Daily Press website), Group Lotus' involvement with the Tesla Roadster project is now very much official: the Roadster will be built by Lotus at its Hethel facility.