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Lotus is getting a shot in the arm courtesy of corporate parent DRB-Hicom, which has announced a 100-million pound ($152.3M USD at today's rates) investment in the Hethel, UK-based manufacturer. The troubled brand was also in the news last week, with DRB announcing a new, three-year plan that would see variants of existing models introduced.

For car buffs one of the more interesting aspects of Google Maps has been checking out the high resolution satellite imagery of race tracks and manufacturer test tracks around the world. Aside from the engineers who work at those facilities and selected outsiders like the media, the proving grounds are typically tightly guarded places and regular people can't just wander in.

Over at the Tesla Motors blog, future Roadster owner Ken Jacobs has written a guest post about his recent visit to England. While he and his wife were in the UK, they hopped over to Hethel, the home of Lotus and primary assembly site of the Roadster. They were given a tour of the factory and the assembly line where Lotus employees take the thousands of bits and pieces that comprise a Roadster and bolt them together. The regular Elise assembly line has been modified to simultaneously accommodate

Click the image above for more shots of the 40th Anniversary Lotus Elise.

Click image for a gallery of the Lotus Esprit S1

The Lotus Esprit, a car severely missed by a huge number of auto fans, is slated after numerous delays to return from the dead in 2009, perhaps at the Geneva Motor Show. Until then, the Dutch seem to be first in getting details on and spy shots of this most English of cars. Last year it was said that Esprit would have a "much more compact" footprint than than the Gallardo or F430, have an aluminum or composite skin, and be produced at a rate of 2,500 per year.

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.

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