It's been nine months since Jean-Marc Gales took over as the new head of Lotus, and as Top Gear recently discovered, the former Peugeot chief is cleaning house.
Gales doesn't put himself in the camp of past Lotus execs (Dany Bahar chief among them) who've reasoned that the company can only succeed if it introduces new and more upscale products. Instead he's focusing on the brand's existing models – namely the Elise, Exige and Evora – but don't think that means they'll just be skating by.
On his watch, Lotus recently introduced the Elise S Cup (apparently the first model it ever introduced on schedule) and the new Evora 400 (ahead of schedule), and there are plans for more. Though Gales apparently has no intention of producing an engine in-house, the Toyota-based 3.5-liter supercharged V6 – now producing 400 horsepower and 302 pound-feet of torque – is slated to be slotted into the Exige as well.
Perhaps most exciting, though, is the prospect of a successor for the 2-Eleven. That windowless speedster was the most extreme interpretation of the Exige, packing just 252 hp but weighing less than 1,500 pounds. The next version would weigh considerably more – closer to 2,000 pounds – but pack that new 400-hp engine to drive the power-to-weight ratio through the roof (if it even has one) in pursuit of a Nürburgring lap record. Don't expect it to switch to carbon fiber construction, though: Like his colleagues at Ferrari, Gales is convinced that aluminum is the way to go, offering comparable weight-saving benefits but at a fraction the cost.
To ensure that these new products don't disappear in a cloud of tire smoke and irrelevance, Gales is also overhauling the way Lotus markets its cars. For one thing, he's opening new showrooms in key markets like Paris, Berlin, Monte Carlo and Abu Dhabi. For another, he's making sure Lotus actually keeps a database of its customers, something which it almost unbelievably didn't bother with until now. Those might not be the most exciting aspects of the business, but if that's all it will take to keep Lotus in the game, we're all for it.