Lotus to build Ethos supermini with Proton, Elan delayed

Published: 21 June 2011

Lotus today confirmed it will build its city car concept – with help from parent firm Proton – but the Elan sports car has been put on ice.

The new Lotus city car will be called the Ethos, continuing a long tradition of E-names for products from Hethel.

The Lotus city car is go

Chief executive Dany Bahar said the city car would be on sale in early 2014. It will be built in Malaysia, but the Lotus version will most likely be finished in Norfolk.

The platform and powertrain have been fixed, and both Lotus and Proton badged models will be offered. While the Lotus model will be mass-market, Lotus plans only around 1500-1800 a year.

The Lotus Ethos will be priced around £30,000 and will be a battery electric vehicle or a hybrid, CEO Bahar told CAR. It will be tuned up to Lotus spec ‘and deliver the dynamics and style you’d expect of a Lotus.’

Lotus Elan is stalled

Bahar said it had tweaked its plan to launch five sports cars within five years.

‘One piece of feedback we had after the launch at the 2010 Paris motor show was that the Elan was too similar to the Esprit in looks and performance. It was fishing in the same pool.’

The Elan project has been shelved until at least 2017, when it could replace the Evora.

So the Evora lives on?

Yes. Bahar revealed the Evora will continue in production until at least 2017 with numerous spin-offs likely. The news is a U-turn as the Evora had been consigned to run down to make space for the new models.

CAR’s Georg Kacher first revealed that the Elan project was on ice last winter.  

Lotus to build engines too

Lotus today confirmed it will also build its own V8 engine. It’s a flat-plane 4.8-litre V8 which is being designed and built in Norfolk.

At 170kg, it’s 80 kilos lighter than the original Toyota lump. In standard tune, the dry sump V8 will develop 570bhp and rev up to 9000rpm – rising to around 620bhp in harder R versions.

The V8 will be used in the 2013 Esprit supercar as well as the Elite 2+2. For 2015’s replacement Elise, Lotus is considering splitting the V8 to make a 2.4 four-cylinder.

Engineering chief Wolf Zimmerman said: ‘We are speaking to OEMs but we’re finding most high-output four-cylinders from the likes of Renault will no longer be built by 2015 because of emissions laws.’

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, motoring news magnet