Lotus has never been a big car company measuring the size of its vehicles or its sales. Like Enzo Ferrari, Lotus founder Colin Chapman saw road cars primarily as a way to drive an ordinary racing car and for many years, Lotus was one of Ferrari's main competitors on the racetrack. Although the company stepped out of the top echelon of the Race for many years, 2010 saw the return of Lotus after a 16-year absence. The history of the company has not been interrupted from the late 40s to the present day.
The British company "Lotus" was founded in 1952 by the famous constructor of Formula 1 race cars Colin Chapman. This was preceded by three years of hard work on converting old cars (in particular, the Austin Seven (1928)) into racing cars and their participation in Formula 1. In 1953, the first model of the company, Lotus 6, was presented. And after 5 years of work on the first sports model, the compact sports car Lotus Seven was presented.
It took a lot of money to race and design new cars, which is why Chempen decided to set up and develop his first production line for the elite class cars with a light fiberglass hull.
Until 1958, the Lotus company was engaged in the production of cars for free sale in the UK car market, as well as racing cars for the Lotus Team. But after the restructuring, the racing team was spun off into an independent firm. Temporarily stopping the development of sports cars for civilian needs, Colin Chapman came to grips with the creation of the Lotus 25, which brought a number of victories to the team in Formula 1, winning both major titles in 1963.
The increase in fiberglass production costs forced Lotus to switch to steel frames. In 1962, the Lotus Elan was introduced and received a number of modifications, including a convertible version introduced in 1966. In the same year, a technological cooperation was established with the American concern "Ford", which invested substantial funds in the modernization of production facilities of "Lotus". In addition to the money, Lotus also received the right to use some technical features of Ford cars. However, this did not prevent the release of the Lotus Europa model, equipped with a power unit from Renault, which had six cylinders and a capacity of 85 horsepower. The car turned out to be so dynamic that it quickly acquired the nickname "road Formula 1".
In 1967, almost immediately after the introduction of the second generation of the Cortina into production, Chapman's company stopped the creation of the Lotus Cortina (or Cortina Lotus, as Ford called it), and sent the engine and chassis to Ford, which took over the installation and all the funding. The car (built before 1970) still bears the Lotus badge, but Ford calls it the Ford Cortina Twin-Cam, omitting part of the Lotus name.
In the early 1970s, in collaboration with the Italian design studio Giugiaro, the Espirit was introduced. It was built on the basis of Elite vehicles. An important feature of the model was the six-cylinder power unit of its own design. In the mid-70s, the company sold the production rights for the Elan to Lotus dealer Caterham Cars. This was followed by the first work of the Lotus brand in the American automotive market - British engineers developed a chassis for the legendary DeLorean DMC-12. However, the model did not bring tangible profits, and a financial crisis began in the Lotus company, which led to the fact that the company was bought out by the General Motors concern in 1986.
The American auto giant did not invest in the release of new models, limiting itself only to optimizing the current model range. However, the engineers were still engaged in the development of a new line of cars. The primary goal was to create the Lotus Carlton (known in Europe as the Lotus Omega). To do this, they first designed a Lotus Opel / Vauxhall sedan, and then dismantled it in Carlton / Omega, while increasing the turbochargers. As a result, the car received a capacity of 377 liters. from. Just 7 years later, the Lotus company was sold to Romano Artioli, the CEO of the Bugatti brand. Under his leadership, the company took up the renovation of the Espirit model, which received an updated design and improved technical stuffing, which allowed the car to accelerate to 257 km / h, which was soon released for sale. However, in 1996, Artioli decided to resell the English automaker to the Malaysian brand Proton, which proved to be an extremely successful owner for Lotus. The new management decided to return to the "roots" of the company and started producing light two-seater Elise. Its body was made of glued together aluminum profiles, which made it possible to reduce the weight of the car to some half a ton.
Released shortly after the change of owner, Lotus Alice allowed to triple sales volumes, and the company's engineers were able to start working on new models. This is how Alice Sport and the second generation Elano were introduced. In 2000, the Proton company released another model of a sports car equipped with a rear wheel drive, called the Exige, and also entered into a contract with Toyota, which began to supply power units and chassis for the Lotus brand. The second generation of this model was released in 2004, and Japanese specialists took an active part in its development. In 2006, the Europa S entered the market, which was an improved version of the Opel Speedster sedan, but the public received the novelty rather coolly.
In 2008 the Lotus Evora was introduced and became a hit in the UK car market. Under the hood of the model is a Toyota engine with a capacity of 257 horsepower.
In addition, the Proton concern became the general sponsor of the former Renault Formula 1 team in 2010, but due to the machinations of CEO Dani Bahar, who appropriated 40% of Lotus's 2008 profits, the cooperation was quickly curtailed. and Bahar lost his place. By 2012, a new development plan for the legendary brand was developed. Lotus engineers presented several modifications of the British brand models with electric motors.
At the 2012 Paris Motor Show, five car concepts were presented at once. Each of them promised to become a worthy representative of a global brand. The main event of the Geneva show was the release of the sports car Lotus Evora GTE, which everyone has been talking about for several months. A special feature of the car was the carbon body, thanks to which it was possible to significantly reduce the weight of the structure and increase the speed. As a result, the Evora GTE F1 Team Limited Edition was recognized as the fastest and most powerful road car of the British brand.
In March 2012, many of the most controversial rumors swirled around the company. According to one, Proton recognized Lotus as unpromising projects, on the other, it is preparing a lot of new novelties and concepts. At the end of the month, it was reported that the management decided to follow the fashion trend and create its own division for the individualization of models. However, they approached this issue quite outside the box - they entered into a contract for the provision of such services with a reputable tuning studio Mansory, while other companies invested huge funds to create their own division.
At the end of spring, it became known about another new product - the Evora GTC sports car. As conceived by the manufacturers, the car was to become a worthy contender for the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup 2011 and the Ferrari F430 Challenge in the Le Mans GTC series. A few months later, information appeared about the prototype Evora 414E Hybrid. In addition, in the North American branch, they openly started talking about the concept of a completely new city car. The three-seater car was unveiled under the name World Vehicle Concept and promised to be the most economical mass-produced vehicle. In September 2012, the Lotus Exige was awarded the title of Britain's fastest electric car, reaching speeds of up to 244 km / h.
In 2014, the company decided to slightly expand its production potential and move to the construction of motorcycles. So, in May, information was received about a new creation of engineering thought - C-01. The improved position of Lotus in Formula 1 was the perfect reason for the release of a new limited edition Exige S coupe - the Exige LF1. The company's management decided that the number of cars produced would equal the number of victories won by the team from 1960 to 2013, i.e. 81 pieces.
In mid-2015, it became known about the release of the new road-track sports car Exige 360 Cup. The car wash promised to be more sporty. The modification promised to provide excellent transport not only for roads, but also for racing tracks.