Building an SUV worked for Porsche, but is it right for Lotus?
When you look at the range of models from Lotus, it is really just several versions of the Elise, Exige, and Evora. The Exige is really just a more hardcore Elise, so the lineup is really just two cars. While we applaud Lotus for sticking to its roots, sports cars are clearly not the key to selling cars in the US. Just look at Porsche. The German automaker was once know for its legendary sports cars. Of course Porsche still builds the 911, but if you look at its sales, the company has become an SUV maker that happens to make a sports car or two.
If Lotus was wise, it would follow in Porsche's footsteps and build an SUV like the Cayenne. When the Cayenne was first released, purists went insane at the fact that their favorite sports car maker would "sell out" and build an SUV. However, fast forward to today, and the Cayenne is seen as the car that helped save Porsche's sports cars for the future. The Cayenne has also created a benchmark for other manufacturers to try and beat in the sporty SUV market. Back in 2014, plans for a Lotus SUV and sedan were pitched to Proton's board of directors. Proton is the parent company of Lotus that builds cars in Malaysia. We think that these models are the key to keeping Lotus alive in the US. Lotus needs more than just sports cars in its lineup.
In the US, Lotus has faced difficulties simply keeping its cars on sale. The Elise and Exige models couldn't be sold because of safety regulations that were too expensive for Lotus to re-engineer for. That left the Evora as the sole offering for the company in the US. Like Alfa Romeo with the 4C, one sports car doesn't drive people into the showroom. In order to sell cars that people will actually want and that will comply with safety regulations, Lotus needs to build a sedan and an SUV. We have seen that Lotus is fully capable of building a badass sedan with the Carlton. Some people may think that building an SUV or sedan would be sacrilegious for a car company that is all about lightness. But we think that if anyone could build the perfect SUV, it's Lotus.
By sticking to the company's core value of "add lightness" a Lotus SUV and sedan could be some of the best on the market. Just imagine if lotus took a modern day car like the Chevy SS, and gave it a dose of lightness. Lotus took the Vauxhall Carlton, a GM product, and transformed it! By replacing the SS's heavy V8 with a lighter twin-turbocharged V6, stiffer suspension, and lighter materials, Lotus could build a modern day interpretation of the legendary Carlton. The same philosophy could spawn an amazing SUV. Most SUVs today claim to be sporty, but are extremely heavy and built to haul around soccer moms. Imagine if Lotus built a light weight SUV with excellent suspension that could tear up any racetrack.
We know that Lotus lacks the budget to make something like this happen, but we think that the investment would completely pay off. If Proton doesn't want its sports car company to die off, it needs to make Lotus relevant again. Even Lotus's newest model, the Evora has been on the market since 2009. With the extreme popularity of the SUV in the US, Lotus would be silly not enter that market. Hell, it already kind of builds SUVs in China, as evidenced by the Youngman-Lotus T5 shown here. It's time to take the next step and make a fully Lotus-badge SUV. The current range of Lotus cars may be great on the track, but they are far too impractical to be considered by most buyers. Even the Cayman has two decent sized trunks!