Lotus unveils five new sportscars

Lotus Eterne
Image caption The four door Eterne is not a typical Lotus, the company admits

UK-based Lotus has unveiled five new sportscars - the Elite, Elise, Elan, Esprit and Eterne - in Paris.

The cars, which will hit the road over a five-year period, mark a new start for the carmaker, Lotus says.

"This is not just about the cars, it's about the complete remake of the brand," boss Dany Bahar told BBC News.

There are also Lotus plans to build a tiny city car with an electric motor and a petrol engine that extends its range as a technical demonstrator.

New models

The cars include a four door car, the Eterne.

"This is probably the car that no one had expected Lotus to ever make," Mr Bahar said, predicting it to become a popular chauffeur-driven car in some markets.

Lotus, which is owned by the Malaysian carmaker Proton, has also made a four-seater sportscar for the "gentleman driver", with a 600 horse power V8 engine, named Elite.

The ancient Esprit two-seater supercar has been updated with a 620 horse-power V8 engine as an attempt to challenge carmakers such as Porsche and Ferrari.

Image caption Mr Bahar wants to double the number of cars sold

Their new Elan is positioned above the relaunched Elise, which completes the Lotus line-up to "keep our current customers happy", says Mr Bahar.

The five new models come in addition to the recently launched Evora sportscar.

Fewer dealers

The new product line-up enables Lotus to target much wealthier customers who will be spending up to £135,000 on a car, compared with prices in the region of £30,000 at the moment.

Mr Bahar, who joined Lotus about a year ago, expects sales to more than double from about 3,000 to between 6,000 and 8,000 cars per year.

And, as the cars are more expensive, the turnover could triple from £200m currently.

Image caption Lotus Cars Mr Prillmann says Lotus has too many dealerships

Wealthy customers tend to expect more from their dealers than the current network of dealerships will be able to deliver, chief commercial officer Andreas Prillmann told BBC News.

The network will therefore undergo dramatic restructuring, with the number of dealerships worldwide being reduced from about 160 to 135.

"For a premium brand, we have far too many dealers," Mr Prillmann said.

In the UK, out of its existing network of 23 dealerships only three will remain, although a handful a new ones might be taken on. In Japan, the number of Lotus dealerships will be cut from 27 to just six.

However, in some countries where they do not have much of a presence at the moment they will create new dealerships.

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