Bringing a car company back from the brink of failure is hard.
Two years ago, former Opel and Mercedes-Benz CEO Jean-Marc Gales took over the struggling British sports car maker Lotus. When Gales took over, he discovered that there was practically no money to replace any of Lotus' three models, and he learned the company was losing money each year. Gales formulated a plan that involved cost cutting to help Lotus turn a profit. In an interview with Automotive News Europe, Gales said that he "can't give any numbers," but that 2016-2017 will be the year when the brand is finally profitable.
To describe Gales' strategy as a miracle is an understatement. In the US, Lotus is only allowed to sell the Evora, which is expected to move around 400 units per year. Gales says that a roadster version will be available in about one year, but the Elise still won't comply with regulations. The company as a whole will only sell around 2,200 to 2,300 cars per year. Gales has helped Lotus cut costs by reducing staff to around 900 employees (down from 1,200). He has also helped reduced the amount of time it takes to build each car by 10%. Even though Lotus will soon be profitable, it still doesn't look like we can expect any groundbreaking new models from the company.
Gales says that the architecture for the Elise should last around four more years, and the Evora's can last a little longer. Gales knows that "the basic architecture is 20 years old," but he points out that "the Porsche 911 architecture is 50 years old and that's still going strong." We understand that Gales is just making the best of a difficult situation here, but he can't really think that the Lotus range isn't in desperate need of a refresh. The automaker still ins't ready to build any new models. An SUV is on the way, but Gales couldn't comment on its progress. In the US, Lotus only sells the Evora, Evora 410 Sport, and an upcoming roadster which Gales counts as three models. To us, that sounds more like three versions of one model.
Overall, we can clearly see that nothing big is about to change at Lotus. The company hasn't been profitable for 20 years, which has obviously hurt its ability to develop new and exciting cars. We are glad that Lotus is finally making money again, but we need to see some new models to stay interested.