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Lotus ditching 'lightweight and simple'

by Drew Johnson

Although Lotus' design philosophy has always hinged on 'lightweight and simple', the firm will make a U-turn in the coming years, instead focusing on volume and profit.

Lotus has always adhered to founder Colin Chapman's mantra of 'lightweight and simple', but the British sports car maker will diverge from that ethos as parent company Proton looks to make the automaker more profitable.

According to Autocar, Lotus is in the process of changing its slogan from "˜lightweight and simple' to "Tomorrow's luxury sports car, today". What that means is a radical shift from cars like the Elise to up-scale models that can compete with Aston Martin and Ferrari.

Under Proton's new scheme, Lotus vehicles will jump from their reasonable pricing structure of today. to a starting price of about $120,000. Proton will justify that price by cramming future Lotus vehicles with the latest in-car technology, including a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, active aero packages, continuously variable dampers and alternative fuel options such as hybrids and electric range extenders.

Despite that hefty price increase, the plan calls for Lotus to up its annual sales from about 2,000 units to 8,000 units. Part of that gain will be made from expanding Lotus' global footprint from 30 countries to 55.

Although the plan will move Lotus significantly up-scale, there are also plans for cheaper niche cars. A rival for Aston Martin's Cygnet city car is said to be in the works, based on Proton's EMAS concept. Like the Cygnet's close relationship with the Toyota iQ, Lotus' city car will close mirror Proton's version - including underhood - but the Lotus version will sport unique interior and exterior styling.

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