Lotus to expand presence in American market

  • Business
  • Friday, 03 Jan 2003

By TAN KAH PENG in London

Perusahaan Otomobil National Bhd’s British subsidiary, Group Lotus plc, will introduce a special version of its acclaimed Lotus Elise sports car into the American market in the middle of next year. 

The announcement, made at the Los Angeles Motor Show yesterday, will mean the end of the long and illustrious life of the Lotus Esprit, regarded by many as the classic sports car, in the US market. 

Asked why the company needed to make a specific version of the Elise for the American market, a Lotus head-office spokesman told StarBiz that the car was being adapted to meet US regulations. 

The modifications apart, he said the “Federal” would retain “the benchmark performance, handling and dynamics that have proven so popular in Britain and Europe”. 

Asked why the Esprit – over 10,000 units of different models have been built since 1976 - was being phased out, the spokesman said the sports car was nearing the end of its sales life. 

However, for its many fans, the brand and concept of the Esprit would continue, he said, adding an all-new Esprit “will hit the streets around the world in a few years' time''. 

Currently, the company makes about 150 Esprit a year, most of which are sold in the US for about US$89,000 each. Production of the Esprit would stop at the end of this year, during which 140 would be built at Lotus’s Hethel plant in Norfolk. 

In a press statement, Arnie Johnson, the president and chief executive of Lotus Cars USA, said market studies “have overwhelmingly confirmed demand” for a small, lightweight and high-performance sports car, for which the Elise is famous. 

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