Lotus Teases ‘Type 131’ Sports Car That Will Replace the Elise, Exige and Evora
With the three models ending production in 2021, the successor could be the final internal-combustion engine Lotus ever develops.
The major difference between all of Lotus' previous expansion plans and this most recent one is that since Geely and Etika Automotive took ownership of the company in 2017, Lotus has actually had a chance to make good on its promises. As a result, over $140 million are being invested into Hethel's facilities right now, the carmaker is ready to launch its 1,973-horsepower Evija electric hypercar, work with Renault performance brand Alpine on a smaller electric sports car in a possible joint venture, and come up with a fast SUV using the same advanced EV technology.
When it comes to internal combustion, however, let me just start by saying that the current final-year Lotus Evora is one of the best-driving and best-sounding sports cars I've ever experienced, and as such, an absolute future classic in my book. Yet as Lotus is gearing up to launch a new sports car slotted between the Evora and the Exige, the current trio is about to be discontinued later this year. While what Lotus called the Type 130 became the Evija, the upcoming Type 131 family is on its way to become the combustion side of Lotus' Vision80 strategy, a business plan set to take the Hethel crew to new heights.
Talking of the famous team, Lotus will be recruiting some 250 new employees to join the 670 who have joined the company since Sept. 2017. Vision80 will also see the relocation of two Lotus sub-assembly facilities into one central operation in Norwich city capable of higher volumes, while new recruits are also required for roles in engineering and manufacturing for both Lotus Cars and engineering consultancy Lotus Engineering, which opens its Advanced Technology Centre in Warwick later this year.
Revamped plants, a new visitor center, and a car museum, plus new products all across the board. That's Lotus charging into the 2020s, as part of the Geely empire.
Lotus will produce its Type 131 prototypes as early as this year, all while waving goodbye to the Elise, Exige, and Evora lines with a series of celebratory events.
As the brand points out, built around a new bonded extruded aluminum chassis, the Elise was unveiled in 1995, named after then company boss Romano Artioli's granddaughter Elisa Artioli. The fiberglass-bodied roadster was followed by the more hardcore Exige in 2000, while the range-topping Evora joined the line in 2008.
With its Lotus-tweaked supercharged Toyota V6, the Evora did pretty well in racing as well, winning a few national GT championships and gaining a podium at Le Mans. Only time will tell if we see the new Type 131 campaigned by the factory, yet there's plenty to like about their concept already.
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