Lotus Cars is a British builder of sports and racing cars. It is based at the old site of RAF Hethel, a World War II airfield in Norfolk. The company designs and builds race and production cars. The cars are built to have a low weight. The cars handle well (they can turn, start and stop quickly.)
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Lotus Cars was founded and owned for many years by Colin Chapman. After his death and a period of financial instability, it was bought by General Motors, then by businessman Romano Artioli and DRB-HICOM through its subsidiary Proton. It is currently owned by Chinese multinational Geely.
The company was started as Lotus Engineering Ltd. by engineer Colin Chapman in 1952 but had roots in 1948 when Chapman first started building racing cars in a garage. The first factory was in old stables in Hornsey, North London. Team Lotus was started in 1954. It was split off from the Lotus Engineering company. Team Lotus was active and competitive in Formula One racing from 1958 to 1994.
The Lotus Group of Companies was formed in 1959. One company was Lotus Cars Limited which made road cars. The other company was Lotus Components Limited which worked on customer race cars. Lotus Components Limited became Lotus Racing Limited in 1971 but stopped building cars in the same year.
In 1959, the company moved to Cheshunt, Hertfordshire into a factory built to make cars. Since 1966 the company has been in a modern factory and road test facility at Hethel, near Wymondham. This site is the former RAF Hethel base. The test track uses parts of the old runway.
In its early days, Lotus sold cars aimed at privateer racers and trialists. Its early road cars could be bought as kits, in order to save on purchase tax. The kit car era ended in the late 1960s and early 1970s, with the introduction of the Elan, the first car manufactured by the company.
In early 1982, Chapman came to an agreement with Toyota to exchange intellectual property and applied expertise. This resulted in Lotus collaborating in the design and development of Toyota sports cars and Toyota supplying parts to Lotus, making development and production of their new models, such as the Excel, cost effective.
Chapman died of a heart attack in 1982 at the age of 54. The car maker built tens of thousands of successful racing and road cars. They won the Formula One World Championship seven times. At the time of his death he was linked with the DeLorean scandal over the use of government subsidies for the production of DeLorean DMC-12 for which Lotus had designed the chassis.
In 1986, the company was bought by General Motors. On 27 August 1993, GM sold the company to Bugatti Automobili SpA owned by businessman Romano Artioli. In 1996, a majority share in Lotus was sold to Proton, a Malaysian car company. On 24 May 2017, Chinese multinational Geely announced that was taking a 51% controlling stake in Lotus. The remaining 49% was acquired by Etika Automotive.
The company is organized as Group Lotus. Group Lotus is divided into Lotus Cars and Lotus Engineering. Lotus Engineering builds suspension for other car builders. They also worked with General Motors to develop the 4-cylinder Ecotec engine.
The four letters in the middle of the logo stand for the initials of Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman.
The Lotus Cars helped its customers to race its cars. They entered Formula One through its sister company Team Lotus in 1958. In 1960, Lotus got its first win in F1. A Lotus 18 driven by Stirling Moss won at Monaco. The car was entered by privateer Rob Walker.
They had big success in 1963 with the Lotus 25. With Jim Clark driving, Lotus its first F1 World Constructors Championship. Clark was killed in a crash in a Formula Two Lotus 48 in April 1968. It was a severe blow to the team and to Formula One. Clark was the dominant driver with the best car at the time. He is an important part of Lotus' early years. The 1963 championship was won by Clark's teammate, Graham Hill.
Team Lotus made the mid-engine layout popular for IndyCars. They developed the first monocoque Formula One chassis. They also made the engine and transaxle a part of the chassis. A transaxle is a combination of the transmission and rear axle. Lotus was also among the first in Formula One to add wings and shaping the bottom of the car. This created aerodynamic downforce. They were the first to move radiators to the sides of the car. This improved the aerodynamic performance of the car. Team Lotus is also considered as the pioneer of the active suspension.
After Chapman's death, until the late 1980s, Lotus was still to be a major player in Formula One. Ayrton Senna drove for the team from 1985 to 1987. Senna won twice in each year and earned 17 pole positions. By the company's last Formula One race in 1994, the cars were not competitive. At the end of the 1994 season, Lotus left Formula One racing. Team Lotus won a total of 79 Grand Prix races. Team Lotus was the first team to achieve 50 Grand Prix victories.
- 1963 (Jim Clark)
- 1965 (Jim Clark)
- 1968 (Graham Hill)
- 1970 (Jochen Rindt)
- 1972 (Emerson Fittipaldi)
- 1978 (Mario Andretti)
In 1992, Team Lotus started Classic Team Lotus for the Works historic motorsport activity. Classic Team Lotus repairs and keeps Lotus F1 cars in running condition. They race them in the FIA Historic Formula One Championship. It keeps the Team Lotus archive and the Works Collection of cars. It is managed by Clive Chapman, son of company founder Colin Chapman.
The Lotus name returned to Formula One for the 2010 season. A new team in Malaysia was started called Lotus Racing. They used the Lotus name with license from Group Lotus. The new team was unrelated to the old Team Lotus. The new team was funded by a Malaysian Consortium (group of companies) including Proton, the former owner of Lotus.
After the 2010 season, Proton ended the license for Lotus Racing to use the Lotus name. Proton believed the team broke the license rules. Lotus Racing then bought Team Lotus Ventures Ltd. This company owned the rights to use the name Team Lotus. The Lotus Racing team announced they would be known as Team Lotus starting in 2011.
In December 2010 Group Lotus (Proton) purchased part of the Renault F1 team. They announced the team would be now be known as Lotus Renault GP. Lotus Renault GP will compete in Formula One starting in 2011.
Lotus also unsuccessfully participated in the 24 Hours of LeMans and in the Indianapolis 500 in 2011 and 2012.
Lotus car modelsEdit
At the 2010 Paris Motorshow, Lotus announced five new models. These were to be introduced over the next five years.
- New Lotus Esprit. Due to be released in 2013. The Esprit was to be powered by a 5.0 litre Lexus V8 pressure charged engine rated at up to 620 PS (456 kW; 612 hp), capable of 0 to 100 kilometres per hour (62 mph) in about 3.4 seconds.
- New Lotus Elan. Due to be introduced during the second half of 2013. The Elan was to be powered by a 4.0 litre V6 pressure charged engine rated at up to 450 PS (331 kW; 444 hp) with a weight of 1,295 kg (2,855 lb).
- New Lotus Elite. A 2+2 GT. It was to be offered with a front-mid positioned 5.0 litre V8 engine producing up to 620 PS (456 kW; 612 hp), capable of 0 to 100 kilometres per hour (62 mph) in about 3.7 seconds. Due for release in spring 2014.
- New Lotus Elise. The replacement for the Lotus Elise S2. It was to be due in 2015. It will have a 2.0 litre inline 4 pressure charged engine producing up to 320 PS (235 kW; 316 hp), the Elise 2015 is stated to be capable of 0 to 100 kilometres per hour (62 mph) in less than 4.5 seconds.
- New Lotus Eterne. A four-door, four seater sports GT. It was to be powered by a 5.0 litre pressure charged V8. It was designed to compete with the Porsche Panamera and the Aston Martin Rapide.
Out of the five models introduced, only the Elise reached the production stage with Lotus cancelling the rest of the models to focus on making lightweight sports cars.
Current car modelsEdit
- Lotus Elise: First introduced in 1996, the Elise uses many new engineering techniques, including an aluminum extrusion frame and a composite body shell. The U.S. version was uses a Toyota engine. This is to pass the U.S. emissions laws. The Elise spawned into its third generation in 2012 where it saw more power being added and more newer variants such as the Elise Cup 250 being introduced.
- Lotus Exige: First introduced in 2000, the Exige is a high performance coupé variant of the Elise with a redesigned body to provide additional downforce (100 lb (45 kg) at 100 mph (160 km/h)). Currently the Exige has a variety of variants ranging from the 375 PS (276 kW; 370 hp) Sport 350 to the 430 PS (316 kW; 424 hp) Cup 430. All variants of the Exige feature the supercharged Toyota DOHC V6 engine from the Lotus Evora.
- Lotus Evora: The Lotus Evora was launched on 22 July 2008. It was code named Project Eagle during development. The Evora is a 2+2 sports car with a mid mounted, transverse 3.5 litre V6 engine. It has spawned several high performance variants such as the Evora GT430 since its introduction.
- Lotus Mark I (1948): Austin 7 based car
- Lotus Mark II (1949–1950): Ford-powered trials car
- Lotus Mark III (1951): 750 cc formula car
- Lotus Mark IV (1952): Trials car
- Lotus Mark V (1952 2): 750 cc formula car, never built
- Lotus Mark VI (1953–1955): The first "production" race, about 100 built
- Lotus Seven (1957–1970): Classic open sports car, without any unnecessary equipment. Designed to handle a racing circuit and nothing else. The rights to the Seven were sold in 1973 to Caterham Cars, who continue to produce it today. Updated versions of this 1957 design are also produced by other firms, including Westfield Sportscars and Donkervoort.
- Lotus Mark VIII (1954): Sports racer
- Lotus Mark IX (1955): Sports racer, based on the Mark VIII
- Lotus Mark X (1955): Sports racer, a more powerful Mark VIII
- Lotus Eleven (1956–1957): Sports racer
- Lotus 12 (1956–1957): Formula Two and Formula One race car
- Lotus 13: Never used
- Lotus Elite (Lotus 14) (1957–1963): First production street car, the Elite
- Lotus 15 (1958): Sports racer—successor to the Eleven
- Lotus 16 (1958–1959): Formula One/Formula Two car based on the 12
- Lotus 17 (1959): Sports racer update of the 15, was not successful
- Lotus 18 (1960–1961): First mid-engined Lotus single seater, Formula Junior/Formula Two/Formula One
- Lotus 19 (1960–1962): Mid-engine sports racer, known as the "Monte Carlo"
- Lotus 20 (1961): Formula Junior
- Lotus 21 (1961): Formula One
- Lotus 22 (1962–1965): Formula Junior/Formula Three
- Lotus 23 (1962–1966): Small displacement mid-engined sports racer
- Lotus 24 (1962): Formula One
- Lotus 25 (1962–1964): Formula One World Champion
- Lotus 26 (1962–1971): Production street sports car, the original Elan.
- Lotus 27 (1963): Formula Junior
- Lotus Cortina (Lotus 28) (1963–1966): Lotus version of the Ford Cortina street car/race car
- Lotus 29 (1963): Indy car Ford stock block
- Lotus 30 (1964): Large displacement sports racer (Ford V8)
- Lotus 31 (1964–1966): Formula Three space frame racer
- Lotus 32 (1964–1965): Monocoque F2 and Tasman Cup racer
- Lotus 33 (1964–1965): Formula One World Champion
- Lotus 34 (1964): Indy car, DOHC Ford
- Lotus 35 (1965): Formula Three, Formula Two, Formula B
- Lotus Elan (Lotus 36) (1965–1968): Fixed Head Coupe version of the original Elan, different from the Type 26 Elan which could be fitted with a removable hard top
- Lotus 38 (1965): Indy winning mid-engine car
- Lotus 39 (1965–1966): Tasman Cup formula car
- Lotus 40 (1965): Version of the 30
- Lotus 41 (1965–1968): Formula Three, Formula Two, Formula B
- Lotus 42 (1967): Indy car—raced with Ford V8
- Lotus 43 (1966): Formula One
- Lotus 44 (1967): Formula Two
- Lotus Elan (Lotus 45) (1966–1974): Convertible (Drop Head Coupe), a version of the original Elan with a revised body style. This version had permanent side window frames.
- Lotus 46 (1966–1968): Original Renault-engined Europa
- Lotus Europa (Lotus 47) (1966–1970): Racing version of Europa
- Lotus 48 (1967): Formula Two
- Lotus 49 (1967–1969): Formula One World Champion
- Lotus Elan (Lotus 50) (1967–1974): Four-seat "Elan +2" production car
- Lotus 51 (1967–1969): Formula Ford
- Lotus 52 (1968): Prototype "Europa" twincam
- Lotus 53 (1968): Small displacement sports racer, never built
- Lotus Europa (Lotus 54) (1968–1970): Series 2 "Europa" production car.
- Lotus 55 (1968): Formula Three
- Lotus 56 (1968–1971): Indy turbine wedge/Formula One turbine (56B)
- Lotus 57 (1968): Formula Two design study
- Lotus 58 (1968): Formula One design study
- Lotus 59 (1969–1970): Formula Three/Formula Two/Formula Ford
- Lotus Seven (Lotus 60) (1970–1973): Greatly modified version of the Seven—AKA Seven S4
- Lotus 61 (1969): Formula Ford wedge
- Lotus 62 (1969): Prototype Europa racer
- Lotus 63 (1969): 4-wheel drive Formula One
- Lotus 64 (1969): 4-wheel drive Indy cars, did not compete
- Lotus 65 (1969–1971): "Federalized" Europa S2
- Lotus 66: Never used
- Lotus 67 (1970): Proposed Tasman Cup car, never built
- Lotus 68 (1969): F5000 prototype
- Lotus 69 (1970): Formula Three/Formula Two/Formula Ford
- Lotus 70 (1970): F5000/Formula A
- Lotus 71: Undisclosed design study
- Lotus 72 (1970–1972): Formula One World Champion
- Lotus 73 (1972–1973): Formula Three
- Lotus Europa (Lotus 74) (1971–1975): Europa Twin Cam production cars
- Lotus Elite (Lotus 75) (1974–1982): Luxury 4 seat GT, "Elite II"
- Lotus 76 (1975–1982): Fastback version of Elite II, "Éclat S1"—also 1974 F1
- Lotus 77 (1976): Formula One
- Lotus 78 (1977–1978): Formula One ground effects car
- Lotus 79 (1978–1979): Formula One World Champion, also used for a street GT "Esprit" (1975–1980)
- Lotus 80 (1979): Formula One
- Lotus 81 (1980–1981): Formula One, also used for a Sunbeam Talbot rally car
- Lotus Esprit (Lotus 82) (1982–1987): Turbo Esprit street GT car
- Lotus Elite (Lotus 83) (1980): Elite series 2
- Lotus Eclat (Lotus 84) (1980–1982): Éclat series 2
- Lotus Esprit (Lotus 85) (1980–1987): Esprit series 3
- Lotus 86 (1980–1983): Formula One dual chassis, never raced
- Lotus 87 (1980–1982): Formula One
- Lotus 88 (1981): Formula One dual chassis car, banned
- Lotus Excel (Lotus 89) (1982–1992): Lotus Excel Grand Tourer, basically a re-engineered Éclat
- Lotus 90: Unrealised project in collaboration with Toyota
- Lotus 91 (1982): Formula One
- Lotus 92 (1983): Formula One
- Lotus 93T (1983): Formula One Turbo
- Lotus 94T (1983): Formula One Turbo
- Lotus 95T (1984): Formula One Turbo
- Lotus 96T (1984): Indy car project, abandoned
- Lotus 97T (1985–1986): Formula One Turbo
- Lotus 98T (1986–1987): Formula One Turbo
- Lotus 99T (1987): Formula One Turbo, last Lotus F1 winner
- Lotus 100T (1988): Formula One Turbo
- Lotus Elan M100 (Lotus Elan (Type M100)) (1989–1995): Front-drive convertible Elan.
- Lotus 101 (1989): Formula One
- Lotus 102 (1990–1991): Formula One
- Lotus 103 (1990): Formula One, not produced
- Lotus Carlton (Lotus 104) (1990–1992): Lotus Carlton: Tuned version of the Vauxhall Carlton.
- Lotus 105 (1990): Racing X180R IMSA Supercars Drivers Champ Doc Bundy
- Lotus 106 (1991): Esprit X180R roadgoing homologation special
- Lotus 107 (1992–1994): Formula One
- Lotus 108 (1992): A bicycle ridden by Chris Boardman to win a gold medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, also known as the "LotusSport Pursuit Bicycle".
- Lotus 109 (1994): Formula One, Last Lotus F1 car.
- Lotus 110: Production version of type 108 bicycle
- Lotus 111: The Lotus Elise
- Lotus 112: Final partial Formula One design
- Lotus 113: Never used
- Lotus 114 (1996): Lotus Esprit GT1
- Lotus Elise GT1 (Lotus 115) (1997–1998): Lotus GT Race Car, also known as the Lotus Elise GT1
- Vauxhall VX220 (Lotus 116): The Elise S2 based Vauxhall VX220/Opel Speedster, built in collaboration with GM
- Lotus Elise (Lotus 117): Lotus Elise S2
- Lotus 118: Lotus M250. Two-seater concept car. Unveiled in Autumn of 1999 as a mid-range sports car. The project was canceled in 2001.
- Lotus 119: Soapbox derby car Light vehicle made of carbon and aluminum. It had disc brakes, and no engine. It was built for a race at the Goodwood Festival of Speed
- Lotus Elise (Lotus 120) (1998): Elise V6 code named M120, never produced
- Lotus Europa S (Lotus 121) (2006): Europa S
- Lotus 122: Lotus Evora
- Lotus 123: Lotus 2-Eleven
- Lotus 124: Evora Race Car
- Lotus 125: Exos—Ultimate track Car 
- Lotus Excel (1985–1992): Updated Eclat with Toyota running gear. 2,159 Excels were made.
- Lotus Eclat (1975–1982): Fastback version of the Elite. The rear roof line of the Elite was sloped down into a sporty fastback.
- Lotus Elite: Describes two cars, one an ultra-light two-seater coupé produced from 1957 to 1962, one an angular 3-door hatch with a back bone chassis produced from 1974 to 1982.
- Lotus Europa (1966–1975): Mid-engine sports car.
- Lotus Esprit: A mid-engine sports car, launched in the early 1970s. It was styled by Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro. The Esprit started with a light, 4-cylinder design. It had several version with turbo-charging and electronic upgrades. Final version had an advanced V8. The last Lotus Esprit rolled off the production line on 20 February 2004, after 28 years in production. A total of 10,675 Esprits were built since production began in 1976.
- Lotus M250 (2000): Concept car, never reached production
- Lotus Europa S: A 2-seater grand tourer. Based on the same chassis as the Elise and Exige. Powered by a Lotus-tuned variant of the turbocharged four-cylinder engine which powers the VX220.
- Lotus-Ford Twin Cam
- Lotus 900 series
- Lotus 907
- Lotus 910
- Lotus 911
- Lotus 912
- Lotus 918 V8
- Range Extender Engine, an all aluminum, 1.2 litre, four-stroke, engine. It is designed to only turn an alternator. The alternator is connected directly to the crankshaft. This will generate electricity for series-hybrid cars.
Lotus Engineering Limited, is an offshoot of Lotus Cars. They consult with other companies that build cars and car equipment. In addition to the United Kingdom, Lotus Engineering has offices in China, Malaysia and United States.
APX and VVAEdit
The APX (also known as the "Aluminum Performance Crossover") is a concept car made from aluminum presented at the 2006 Geneva Motor Show. It is built on Lotus Engineering's Versatile Vehicle Architecture (VVA).
The VVA design was to be used on a mid-engine sports car. The APX is a high performance 7 seat Multi Purpose Vehicle. It is four-wheel drive and has a front mounted V6 engine.
Cars produced using VVA:
- Lotus APX
Projects worked on by Lotus EngineeringEdit
Examples of work done by Lotus Engineering include:
- Lotus Talbot Sunbeam – Talbot's hot-hatch rally car of the early '80s.
- DeLorean DMC-12 – Redesigned the original concept car. Used many of the material and manufacturing techniques used by Lotus in the Lotus Esprit.
- Vauxhall Lotus Carlton (also Opel Lotus Omega) – At the time (early 1990s) this was the fastest saloon car available. Top speed was over 170 mph (274 km/h).
- The 1991 Dodge Spirit R/T – Used an engine with a 16-valve double overhead camshaft head designed by Lotus. Its engine was rated at over 220 hp (160 kW).
- Vauxhall VX220 (also Opel Speedster) – Built by Lotus and based upon the aluminum chassis design of the Lotus Elise.
- Lotus styled and assisted with the engineering of the Tesla Roadster, an electric sports car based on the Elise, as well as licensing some technologies to Tesla Motors and constructing the Roadster at their plant in Hethel.
- Lotus was responsible for most of the design, development, and testing, of the LT5 DOHC V8 powerplant for the 1990 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1.
- Lotus designed, developed and tested the GM Ecotec engine and its variants.
- Lotus was responsible for various aspects of the Sinclair C5 electric tricycle.
- Lotus was responsible for the suspension calibration of the Toyota MR2 Mk. I, the Toyota Supra Mk. II and Mk. III, the Isuzu Piazza, the Isuzu Impulse as well as newer Proton models.
- Lotus was responsible for the development of the Campro engine together with Proton, as well as its variable valve timing system, the Cam Profile Switching (CPS). Currently available in the 1.6-litre and 1.3-litre variants, the Campro engine now powers most of Proton's newer models.
- Lotus has worked on the suspension of the Mahindra Scorpio to make it more stable at high speeds.
- Lotus produced the revised Chassis of the Isuzu Piazza
- The Dodge EV concept electric vehicle from Chrysler is based on a Lotus Europa S.
- Lotus has worked on the suspension and handling of the Nissan GT-R
- 2009: Range Extender engine. This all aluminium, monoblock, 1,200cc, four-stroke engine is specifically designed to turn an alternator for series-hybrid cars. The engine is small and light having three cylinders and no detachable cylinder head.
- 2010: Limo-Green project with Jaguar Cars. Lotus provided the Range Extender engine for a prototype XJ series-hybrid car. The car returned 58 mpg (imperial) running off the range extender alone.
- The Aston Martin DB9's chassis was developed with the help of Lotus Engineering.
- The 2006 Volkswagen GX3 features a chassis developed by Lotus.
- The Rinspeed sQuba amphibious roadster is based on an Elise.
- Lotus partnered with Jaguar for developing chassis system and engine management of the Jaguar C-X75. The engine is a supercharged 1.6 turbo petrol engine rated at 507 PS (500 hp; 373 kW) coupled with a 177 PS (175 hp; 130 kW)
- The 2015 Spyker B6 Venator is powered by a Lotus-built engine originating from a Toyota-sourced block.
Lotus Engineering has established a group dedicated to hybrid and electric vehicles.
Lotus joined Jaguar Cars, MIRA Ltd and Caparo on a luxury hybrid executive sedan project called "Limo-Green"—funded by the UK Government Technology Strategy Board. The vehicle was a series plug-in hybrid.
Lotus unveiled their first series production electric sports car called the Evija in July 2019. The car is undergoing development under the codename Type 130. Production would be limited to 130 units and is scheduled to begin in Summer 2020. The Evija makes use of a 70 kWh battery pack developed in conjunction with Williams Advanced Engineering. There are 4 electric motors placed on each wheel supported by an Integral powertrain. The powertrain is rated at a total output of 2,000 PS (1,471 kW; 1,973 hp) and 1,700 N⋅m (1,254 lb⋅ft) of torque. The Evija has a range of 400 km (249 mi).
Queen's Award for EnterpriseEdit
Lotus Cars were awarded the Queen's Award for Enterprise for contribution to International Trade, one of 85 companies receiving the recognition in that category in 2002. Lotus cars wore the badge of the award for a number of years.
In popular cultureEdit
Lotus cars have appeared in several movies and TV shows. The most popular appearance of Lotus cars was in two James Bond movies namely The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and For Your Eyes Only (1981). The amphibious Lotus Esprit appearing in the 1977 movie was more popular of the two appearances.
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