Lotus and the power of confidence: rumours and PR

Published: 12 April 2012 Updated: 26 January 2015

There’s a lot of smoke blowing around right now on the subject of Lotus and whether it has a future. I don’t have the inside track on this, but the amount of mud-slinging from commentators and the reciprocal mud being chucked back by the Hethel PR machine suggest something is ‘going on’

Anyone who loves cars should love Lotus, and every motoring journalist I have ever met has had at the very least a soft spot for the brand and a fond memory or two tucked away. Many go further and credit Colin Chapman with beginning the obsession with weight-saving which continues today and which, in these straightened times, gives us the continuing prospect of cars that are great fun to drive.

Others passionately believe that the world would be a less happy place had it not been for the Lotus 7, Elan, Esprit, Elite, Europa, Elise, Exige, Evora, The Spy Who Loved Me and racing cars painted black and gold.

Yet at the merest hint of trouble the naysayers are on the case, speculating wildly about a calamitous end, pouring ill-considered fuel onto the fire. Now don’t get me wrong: as journalists it’s our job to dig out the facts and not to shy away from bad news; but what these stories are doing is effectively hastening any slide. If Lotus IS clinging on by its metaphorical fingertips, the current media frenzy is stamping on its fingers.

The reason this matters is all about confidence. Once potential customers catch the whiff of trouble they put their chequebooks away. And once the fire is alight it’s desperately hard to extinguish. Perception IS reality; rumours become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Who’s going to make the second-biggest purchase of their life from a company that might not be around to supply parts and servicing and honour warranties? Ask Saab. Ask MG-Rover. Hell, ask Thomas Cook.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: by writing this blog I’m part of the problem. So let me say this for the record: here at CAR we have access to most of the key feeds on this story, and at the time of writing there’s no concrete evidence to support the view that Lotus is in trouble. If you’re thinking of buying one, you still should. Having just driven the sublime Evora S, I just might just do the same.

By Greg Fountain

CAR's former managing editor, editor, caption chiseller, noticer of ironies