Image thanks to Paul D’Ambra / Lotus Cars Australia
Catch up with Paul D’Ambra and Richard Gibbs as they discuss the latest news in Lotus Cars Australia and everything going on in the world of Lotus in Australia.
Lotus Cars Australia aims for 100-plus sales by 2019
Thanks to Paul D’Ambra
As many of you already know Simply Sports Cars (SSC) took control of the distribution of Lotus about 18 months ago. 2016 had seen just 31 vehicles sold, and if you needed proof that the brand needed stronger focus, 62 cars were sold in 2017 – the first increase in about four years.
Richard said “it’s the first time we have really been in control of our own destiny” he continued, “our refreshed five-strong dealer network, increased marketing, stronger events, revised model range and additional special-edition models have all helped contribute to that result and we’ve successfully reversed the declining trend.”
The goal for 2018 is 75 sales. This is admittedly a conservative number, but the focus is on establishing a solid platform from which to create sustainable growth. Richard explained that the longer term objective is to have year on year triple digit sales figures via steady growth, with the aim of reaching that milestone by 2019.
When pressed on latest news after Geely took a controlling stake of Lotus Cars, Richard’s eyes lit up. The various reports on the internet and in interviews all seem to point towards the current line up remaining relatively unchanged, however two new models plus an SUV have been confirmed over the next 2-3 years.
While exact timelines or any other specifics haven’t been confirmed, it’s pretty exciting to think there could be something completely fresh on the way. Dare we say it, we could even see re-incarnations. Can you imagine if the Esprit was reborn as a new halo model? With the Volvo stable to draw from and lots of hybrid expertise, it seems like exciting times ahead.
One of the more exciting vehicles on the way to Australia is the Lotus Exige 430 Cup. There are just ten that are going to be made available for sale and six were accounted for before they were even been put on the boat. Just four of the 60 worldwide units of the Lotus Evora GT430 will be coming to Australia, two of which have been spoken for. It’s a testament to the impact Lotus Cars Australia have had that Richard and Lee have not only secured these models from global allocations, but that they’re already sold to happy drivers.
We questioned Richard as to whether the age of the Elise, Exige or Evora would hinder LCA’s ambitions.
“Potentially. Some buyers who are comparing to other marques that offer greater levels of luxuries and gizmos may be hesitant. Although, as you know, a Lotus is all about the driving experience and to its credit the brand has focussed on that.”
“When you ask people what else they really need in a car, they realise that so many things are superfluous. What we are finding is that new people coming to the brand are a little mystified by the lack of choice in this area – something pure, raw and fun. They are gravitating to Lotus cars for that reason. Having said that, a quick drive in a current Elise Sport 220 or Evora 400 and you’ll quickly see how different the current gen cars are from those a few years older”
Let’s ignore everything Richard is telling us for a second. Here are a few quotes sourced from recent owners that have been shared on social media and the Aussie Elises forum;
“I can certainly see why the Sport 220s are so popular. I think all the updates have been improvements and judging by mine I think the Elise has been refined to perfection. Any sort of bad press I’d read in my research are non-events. My car’s build quality is faultless – no rattles, road noise a non-issue (and haven’t got the sound insulation and mine’s the no interior interior option), this exposed gear shifter, what can I say apart from looking amazing, I’ve not seen (or used) a better shifter in any vehicle in any price bracket.
Some of the extra tech in current high end sports cars is sucking the life out of them in my opinion.”
Lotus Elise Sport 220
“My new V6 appears to be faster, smoother, nicer to drive, more sturdy at speed, better assembled, better looking etc. etc. I could go on, but more importantly it’s a much better mechanical package with no weaknesses and although my S2 Exige was a blast to drive it was slower and ultimately more costly. If only I’d driven a V6 earlier…”
Lotus Exige V6
“I recently became the very proud owner of a 2018 Cup 250. This is my first Lotus and I can already say it has officially ruined every other make of car I might have considered buying in the future”
Lotus Elise Cup 250
Richard spoke about the genuine surprise people are showing when they find out an Elise is available for under $100,000 or that an Exige has supercar-like levels of performance for half the price of comparable marques.
“Those who are doing a little more research and going further than a glossy sales brochure are realising the underlying bang for buck that the Lotus range offers. Then, when they find out about the relative running costs and the events available within the active Lotus community, it almost becomes a no brainer. I’m finding people do want something a little bit different to the sea of grey & charcoal on our streets.”
Lotus Cars Australia estimated that about 50% of buyers last year were new to the brand, lured by the focus on being a driver’s car first and foremost, the track days, targa rally events, very personalised service and welcoming community, where you’re known as a member of the Lotus family by first name – something not really possible with other high volume brands.
Richard continued “People weren’t shopping for a Lotus a few years ago and didn’t even know that the brand was around anymore. We knew that fact was the simplest thing we had to change, and we’ve gone and put the cars in front of enthusiasts at places like cars and coffee events, car shows and other places and made sure across websites, social media and even LinkedIn that we are telling everyone “We are here!” We are very focussed on keeping our current customers loyal, but we know it will be new people to the brand that will create long term success.”
True to their word Lotus Cars Australia have already been delivering in 2018. They kicked off with a Lotus Only Track Day (LOTD) on Mount Panorama and have just announced LOTD#2 at Wakefield on the 14th of July. We’ve been told that LOTD #3 will soon be confirmed for Phillip Island in November. Then there’s their Targa Tour groups – Tasmania, Great Barrier Reef and High Country. Talk about spoilt for choice! There is every reason to get out and enjoy your Lotus one way or the other and great time to be a Club Lotus Australia member.