All-new Lotus Emira pre-production commences following £100million investment in UK facilities

All-new Lotus Emira pre-production commences following £100million investment in UK facilities

All-new Lotus Emira pre-production commences following £100million investment in UK facilities

Another milestone in Lotus’ Vision80 journey is reached as Emira pre-production gets underway and further details of the substantial investments made in UK operations are revealed.

Total investment in UK facilities now stands at more than £100 million, which includes two new production halls at the company’s iconic home in Hethel, Norfolk. One is now in pre-production for the Emira, the all-new Lotus sports car to be unveiled at Hethel on Tuesday 6 July. The other, for the Evija all-electric hypercar, has completed prototype production and first customer cars will be built later this year.

Hethel – the Lotus Advanced Performance Centre – has also benefitted from an all-new high tech automated paint shop, a retail design studio to highlight the new visual identity for the business’s expanding retail network and a new on-site restaurant. This follows investment made last year to upgrade the legendary Lotus test track and equip engineering workshops with equipment to further support electric vehicle development.

The workforce at Lotus’ Norfolk sites at Hethel and Norwich has almost doubled since October 2017 when Geely became the majority shareholder. With the launch of Emira, Lotus is creating more than 200 new operations roles and recruitment is now under way.

Additional investment has been made at Lotus’ other UK sites, including all-new facilities in nearby Norwich, and in the Midlands in partnership with the University of Warwick.

Every pound spent has been with the clear target of further enhancing the technology, quality, efficiency and sustainability behind production of Lotus cars and the services offered by Lotus Engineering, the consultancy division of the business.

Details of the investment by Lotus include:

Investment in Sports Car Operations, Hethel (all-new factory for Emira production)

All-new paint shop: This state-of-the art facility supports robotised paint application, a first for Lotus in more than seven decades of car manufacture that will improve quality and through-put of vehicles. It also features other innovative technologies, such as a combined primer and clearcoat line. The system is highly efficient; dry filtration uses 60% less energy than a wet system, while an electrostatic primer on body panels will reduce paint usage by 30-40%. Installation is almost complete and the facility has been locked down during May while deep cleaning takes place. ‘Dry’ commissioning will commence shortly so the physical systems – eg, conveyors, transfers, lifts, ovens – can be tested. ‘Wet’ commissioning will follow later in the summer.

All-new framing line: Now operational, the framing line is building car bodies as part of Emira pre-production, with robots applying bonding agent to the sides, roof and cantrails.

All-new Automatically Guided Vehicles (AGVs): AGVs allow for the highly efficient movement of cars in build on set routes around the factory, allowing operations colleagues to focus on assembling the vehicles. Routes are easily reprogrammed, creating a flexible and future-proof approach to Lotus sports car manufacturing. Each AGV has a height adjustment system so operators can position the car on it at exactly the right ergonomic height for them.

All-new main assembly hall: The centrepiece of Hethel’s upgrades is the most visible, adjacent to Potash Lane and obvious to anyone visiting the factory. The all-new 12,000m2 main assembly hall is the size of 1.5 football pitches, with a glass-walled mezzanine operations deck above. All station gantries have now been installed. Wheel Alignment and Headlamp Aim (WAHA) equipment, a Vehicle Configuration and Test System (VCaTS), monsoon water test booth, rolling road and fuel fill area are all installed and will be commissioned by the end of June.

The entire Sports Car Operations production facility is powered by 100% renewable electricity thanks to a partnership with energy supplied Centrica.

David Hewitt, Executive Director, Operations, Lotus, said:

The move to a part-robotised production is the right one for Lotus as we launch the Emira. Everything is about repeatability and efficiency to drive quality. Our workforce is incredibly skilled, and robots help them to deliver the consistency we need at the volume we need it.

David added:

Our cars will remain ‘Handmade in Hethel’, though our people will be supported by new processes and technologies that will only enhance efficiency and build quality. It is a ‘best of both worlds’ solution.

There is further investment at Hethel in the Evija production hall, where the project team is ramping up work as the car moves towards full production later this year. In addition, Hethel now has an all-new restaurant for both Lotus colleagues working on site and any visitors. Lotus has partnered with another iconic Norfolk name – TV chef and author Delia Smith – to provide a high-quality and value-for-money catering service.

One end of the restaurant building is now home to the Lotus Retail Design Studio, showcasing the company’s new visual identity for showrooms. This is now being rolled out in Lotus retail outlets around the world.

Investment at Lotus Advanced Structures (LAS), Norwich

All-new fabrication facility: Announced in July 2020, LAS is Lotus’ new fabrication facility in Norwich, just a few miles from Hethel. Consolidating chassis assembly from Lotus Lightweight Structures in Worcester with subframe and fuel tank assembly from another facility in Norwich, relocating both into LAS will increase efficiency and dramatically reduce logistics costs and transport emissions.

The chassis and front-end assembly line, including robot bonding agent application, is now operational at LAS, supplying components for the pre-production of Emira. Eight new CNC milling machines are being installed, plus four more transported from Worcester. A new laser cutting machine is being commissioned to manufacture fuel tanks, rear subframes and many of the steel and aluminium components used on the vehicle.

All-new Lotus Learning Academy: The launch of the Emira is creating more than 200 new operations roles at Lotus and recruitment is now under way. These colleagues are among the first to pass through the all-new Lotus Learning Academy, which is based at LAS.

Investment at Lotus Advanced Technology Centre (LATC)

Investment has taken place at LATC, an engineering base for the business in the UK’s Midlands. The region is a focal point for automotive and engineering performance innovation, and so is the perfect location for Lotus’ high voltage development and testing centre. It’s also the ideal home for the Lotus Engineering consultancy. Announced in July 2020, LATC is on the Wellesbourne campus of the University of Warwick.

The investment in Lotus’ UK facilities dates back to 2018, the year majority shareholder Geely and minority shareholder Etika approved Vision80, the strategic plan for the transformation of Lotus ahead of its 80th birthday in 2028.

Lotus Type 131 – the all-new sports car is named EMIRA

Lotus Type 131 – the all-new sports car is named EMIRA

Lotus Type 131 – the all-new sports car is named EMIRA

Lotus has today confirmed the name of its eagerly anticipated all-new sports car will be EMIRA.

The news was confirmed during the Driving Tomorrow global digital conference broadcast. To date it has been known only by its codename, the Lotus Type 131.

The name had been teased by Lotus in a film on social media in recent days. It was ‘hidden in plain sight’ as part of a pattern of dots and dashes designed into the central line on a road. Those with knowledge of Morse Code could have spotted that it spelled Emira. Today, 27 April, is the anniversary of the birthday of Samuel Morse, inventor of Morse Code.

Pronounced ‘E-meer-a’, the word features in numerous ancient languages and often translates as ‘commander’ or ‘leader’. It’s highly appropriate as this is the exciting new sports car leading Lotus on a journey to a thrilling new future.

The Emira will be unveiled on Tuesday 6 July at Hethel, Norfolk – where the Emira will be built – and will make its public dynamic debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed on 8-11 July.

Lotus has also confirmed that, contrary to media speculation, the car will not be a hybrid. The Emira will be powered by a choice of internal combustion engines – the last time Lotus will launch an ICE car – with an exciting new powertrain partnership. The additional powertrain option will be new to Lotus, highly efficient, use cutting edge technology and be tuned to help deliver that distinctive Lotus experience.

With a distinctive new sports car design influenced by the Lotus Evija hypercar, Emira marks the acceleration of the brand’s product-led offensive into a new era of contemporary design, highly efficient powertrains, and everyday usability coupled with explosive performance. 

Speaking about the Emira, Matt Windle said:

It’s the most accomplished Lotus for generations – the perfectly packaged, powered and formed sports car. Beautifully proportioned, shrink-wrapped, but with comfort, technology and ergonomics built in. With a design inspired by the Evija all-electric hypercar, it’s a game-changing Lotus sports car.

More details on the Lotus Emira will follow in July when the car is revealed.

Lotus Engineering consultancy going from strength to strength

Lotus Engineering consultancy going from strength to strength

Lotus Engineering consultancy going from strength to strength

Lotus Engineering, the consultancy side of the Lotus business, is going from strength to strength under the company’s Vision80 transformation strategy.

Key to its rebirth as a force in global automotive engineering has been its ongoing transition to a new home. Announced last year, the Lotus Advanced Technology Centre (LATC) is on the Wellesbourne campus of the University of Warwick. The UK’s Midlands region is a focal point for automotive and engineering innovation, and is the perfect location for Lotus’ high voltage development and testing centre. That makes it the ideal home of the Lotus Engineering consultancy.

As part of the Driving Tomorrow global digital conference, Lotus Engineering has released a new architect’s animation what LATC will be like when complete. More than 100 employees will be based there initially, with capacity for another 200 when the facility’s development is complete.

Client confidentiality is at the heart of its work, though details of a number of high-profile partnership projects are in the public domain. These include:

  • JBXE: Lotus Engineering is technical partner to JBXE, the Extreme E race team launched by former F1 world champion Jenson Button. The team will benefit from Lotus Engineering’s expertise and motorsport experience.
  • British Cycling: An innovative aerodynamic profile for the new track bike to be ridden by Team GB athletes at this summer’s Tokyo Olympics. The work has been led by Lotus Engineering.
  • Project LEVA: Short for Lightweight Electric Vehicle Architecture, Project LEVA is a collaboration led by Lotus Engineering that is targeting the acceleration of and innovation behind new lightweight structures for next-generation battery electric vehicles.
  • Project BattCon: Lotus Engineering has launched a pilot containerised battery testing facility to assess energy storage solutions for the booming EV sector. It means the consultancy can carry out various battery cell, module and pack characterisation tests, performance evaluations, and component and lifetime testing under controlled conditions for its clients.

Uday Senapati, Executive Director, Corporate Strategy and Product Management, Lotus, said:

Lotus Engineering has partnered with some of the best-known companies and created numerous iconic products. These projects are an excellent calling card for the skills, resources and experience of our consultancy – bringing in new partnerships from all around the world, be they OEM, start-ups or special commissions. Such partnerships continue to play a vital role in the journey of Lotus Engineering.

Further growth for Lotus Engineering is being driven by access to the four new Lotus structural architectures. Working collaboratively with colleagues in Europe and China, Lotus engineers have developed a dedicated family of structural platforms for the brand. Exclusive to Lotus within the Geely group, they are available to other OEMs through the Lotus Engineering consultancy.

  • Sports car architecture: Referred to internally as the Elemental architecture, this is the platform on which the all-new Lotus Emira will be built. Flexible, lightweight and featuring the signature Lotus extruded aluminium technology, this sports car platform is a massive step-change technically.
  • Hypercar architecture: The Lotus Evija is the first vehicle to be built on this Extreme platform and goes into production later this year at Hethel.
  • Premium architecture: The first ever truly global automotive architecture from Lotus, the Evolution platform will be the basis for an all-new range of lifestyle vehicles from the company. The architecture has been defined and designed in the UK, supported by collaborative work with teams in China, Sweden and Germany. It is ‘born British, raised globally’.
  • Electric sports car architecture: The Lotus Engineering consultancy is leading development work on a new vehicle platform – known internally as E-Sports – and from that will come new products for Lotus and Alpine. However, it is also commercially available for other OEMs to use.

A new technical roadmap for Lotus will also help guide the work of consultancy. Dubbed EAS-IP – it recognises that demand for technology is a fact of today’s automotive landscape.

  • Electrify: A pure electric future for Lotus, as first demonstrated by the Evija hypercar, has been part of the Vision80 strategy from the start. After the Type 131 product line, every new Lotus car will be electric.
  • Amplify: Lotus is committed to delivering innovative and engaging technologies. It will dial up the importance and prevalence of technology in its new product range. In tandem with the famed Lotus DNA ‘For The Drivers’ , this will drive the desirability of future models.
  • Simplify: It was Lotus founder Colin Chapman who famously said the key to performance was to ‘simplify and add lightness’. Nothing has changed. Lotus technology will be an enabler, and will simplify the driving and ownership experience for customers.
  • Intensify: Lotus is fast developing a reputation as a world leader in Human Machine Interface (HMI), User Interface (UI), and User Experience (UX). With every new product launch, the role of innovative new technology will be intensified.
  • Personify: Lotus will use technology to give its new models an identity, a brand character that will become part of the company’s DNA. Lotus cars will be customisable through technology, mirroring and adapting to each customer’s tastes.

Richard Moore, Executive Director, Engineering, Group Lotus, said:

This is a hugely exciting time for Lotus Engineering. News of the transformation of Lotus is  common knowledge across the automotive world, and the consultancy is in great demand from clients eager to tap into the passion, expertise and commitment which has run through this consultancy for more than 40 years.

Lotus embraces omni-channel retail strategy

Lotus embraces omni-channel retail strategy

Lotus embraces omni-channel retail strategy

Lotus will in future embrace a 360-degree omni-channel approach as part of its new retail strategy, incorporating the whole spectrum of customer interactions, from the traditional and physical to the modern and digital.

The most obvious example of this is the launch of a stunning new Lotus retail identity programme, now being rolled out in showrooms across the world. The first location to feature this exciting new Lotus look and feel is complete and open for business in Manama, the capital city of Bahrain, in the Middle East.

Uniquely Lotus and defiantly disruptive, the new retail identity draws directly on the brand’s design and engineering prowess to create a bold and original new showroom environment that’s sculptural and artistic in its execution.

Geoff Dowding, Executive Director, Sales and Aftersales, Lotus, said:

Launching an all-new visual identity for our retail partners is another hugely exciting step in our transformation of the Lotus brand. The inherent flexibility of what we have created will be perfect for all environments, whether they’re solus or multi-franchise, urban or out-of-town, high street or shopping mall, single or multi-storey, pop-up, seasonal or permanent.

Trevor Weller, Director, Retail Development, Lotus, added:

The retail concept has been designed to adapt to the different markets that Lotus sells in, to reflect the cultural nuances and the different consumer behaviours. We are also working towards a digital store, which we are looking to pilot during the course of next year.

Geoff Dowding added:

We have some stunning new products coming and this will bring a host of customers to the Lotus brand for the first time. The enhancements we’re making to our retail environment will give all our customers the best possible experience. We know that we have to do business with customers in a different way and we will over time implement a more direct transactional model.

Lotus Evija honoured in BBC Top Gear Electric Awards

Lotus Evija honoured in BBC Top Gear Electric Awards

Lotus Evija honoured in BBC Top Gear Electric Awards

The Lotus Evija has been named as ‘The One to Watch’ in Top Gear’s second ever Electric Awards.

The all-electric hypercar was recently tested by Top Gear magazine editor Jack Rix on the test track at Lotus HQ in Hethel, Norfolk, and his article is published over eight pages in the May issue.

Rix calls the Evija not just a halo car for Lotus – “a signpost for the future of the company” – but labels it “a flagbearer for really fast electric vehicles as a whole”.

The Evija, which will go into production later this year, is the world’s most powerful car. It has an output of more than 2,000 PS from its all-electric, all-wheel drive powertrain. Rix notes it can accelerate from 124mph to 186mph (200 km/h to 300 km/h) in just three seconds, half the time it takes a Bugatti Chiron to do the same.

Rix was driving an Evija prototype restricted to 1,600 PS. “It’s light on its feet, playful with the instant mash of acceleration even a naturally aspirated engine could only fantasise about.” He’s also full of praise for the work of the project development team, saying the core Lotus DNA is obvious right from the first corner. “The steering is superb, light and darty around the dead-ahead, then loading up according to wheel angle and speed.” He concludes that “Lotus is on the brink of something special.”

Matt Windle, Managing Director, Lotus Cars, said:

Of all the EVs in development around the world, it’s an honour to be recognised by the Top Gear team as ‘The One to Watch’. Validation work on the car continues apace, and we resumed our world tour with the car last month. We look forward to showing it to more people in the physical world in the coming weeks.

Enhanced Lotus Approved programme launches on 12 April 2021

Enhanced Lotus Approved programme launches on 12 April 2021

Enhanced Lotus Approved programme launches on 12 April 2021

Lotus retailers in the UK are scheduled to fully reopen on 12 April 2021 and will do so with a significantly enhanced Lotus Approved programme.

‘Lotus Approved’ status can now be applied to any Lotus car up to 20 years of age provided it meets a strict set of criteria. These include comprehensive technical checks coupled with outstanding vehicle preparation, delivering a high-quality and consistent standard of pre-owned car throughout the Lotus network.

Attractive flexible finance will be available on all vehicles, and for many customers Lotus Approved will provide the most affordable entry point into Lotus ownership.

Geoff Dowding, Executive Director, Sales and Aftersales, Lotus, said: The relaunch of the Lotus Approved programme is another significant milestone in the transformation of our business. This is a win-win scenario for everyone; for customers new to the Lotus brand it delivers added value and peace of mind, and for our retailers it’s an opportunity to expand their customer base.

Key features and benefits of the enhanced Lotus Approved programme are:

  • Minimum 12-month warranty
  • Full service history + HPI / Experian vehicle history check
  • Vehicle Identity Check with Mileage Verification
  • Multi-point vehicle inspection by a Lotus factory-trained technician
  • 10-mile road test by a Lotus factory-trained technician
  • Appropriate service and MoT if due within three months
  • MoT Test Cover policy
  • Full vehicle valet
  • 12-month breakdown cover

In addition, every Lotus Approved car comes with a complementary Certificate of Provenance. This provides detailed vehicle information documents plus a selection of Lotus collectables, including an engraved aluminium plaque, a leather Lotus keyring, a presentation tin of four badges and a Lotus ink pen, presented in bespoke Lotus-branded gift box.

The Lotus Approved programme is being relaunched in the UK first and will expand into Europe and other international markets later this year.