The Lotus saga continues - Lotus pull out of Lotus? UPDATE: Lotus Press Release
The slow demise of a once-great sports car manufacturer continues. For month now we’ve been following the bizarre goings on at Lotus. First we had the shock announcement of 5 new models; of which the launch dates kept getting either cancelled or pushed back time and again. Then Lotus signs rapper/producer Swizz Beats to be their ‘Style Consultant’, followed by the announcement that Mansory are their official tuning partner. It seems as if Danny Bahar, the man in charge was leading the company into oblivion.
More recently Lotus’ owner, Proton changed hands which by Malaysian law forced Lotus to go into a forced state of no funding for a couple of months. So development of the new models, including the eagerly awaited and much needed Exige S Coupe & Roadster, the new Esprit and the Evora GTE was halted as well.
And now we hear that Group Lotus will no longer sponsor the formula one team that bears its name – Lotus F1. But the Enstone based team, formerly Renault, will continue to be known as Lotus in the coming years just to add to the confusion.
Last year, and in 2010, 'Lotus' was the name of the team that is now called Caterham, but a bitter dispute soured that relationship as the Proton-owned car company Group Lotus ended the naming license and made its own bid to enter F1. Group Lotus' new foray blossomed in 2012 with Renault's renaming to Lotus, amid speculation team owner Genii was keen to get more involved with the iconic sports car marque.
"We are happy to carry the Lotus name as we believe it is a good name for F1," explained team owner Genii's Gerard Lopez. In yet another twist, when questioned about the possibility of Genii taking over Group Lotus, Lopez refused to rule out a scenario which could be telling.
"We don't know yet, because we really do not know what the new owner wants to do with it," he said.
What we, as petrolheads would like to see, is a company take over Lotus, get rid of Danny Bahar and put Lotus back on the right track.
Get the Exige S Coupe & Roadster in showrooms as an interim – interest is huge in those models. Then get the Evora GTE out to take some Porsche GT3 scalps and win the hearts of the enthusiasts and magazines. Finally, get that Esprit developed and on sale to tempt Ferrari owners out of their 458s with a British alternative.
Oh, and give Swizz Beats and Mansory the boot, writing them both off as an elaborate April Fool’s joke…
UPDATE: In one of the biggest PR faux-pas we've ever seen, Lotus sent out the following press release last night. Honestly we're lost for words as to why a company would release something like this, but sadly nothing surprises us about Lotus these days...
Never let the facts get in the way of a good story....
Take a little look at what we found online. Don't you think it's funny? We do. We had a good old giggle. After all, we love a bit of self irony, just as well really. Although it's funny, this one's not accurate but then again, why let the facts get in the way of a good story? The inconvenient truth is - surprise, surprise - we have never said that there are no problems at Lotus.
So whilst lots of people obviously feel the need to comment on Lotus' current situation in the absence of proper facts or evidence, we can't ignore these particular mistruths any longer even if we would like to, so we have decided to turn a negative into a positive and use this hilarious piece of ‘art' to set the record straight regarding the status quo at Group Lotus and try to return a little stability to a fast changing situation.
False rumour #1: Dany Bahar is no longer CEO of Group Lotus.
Fact: Rubbish - Dany Bahar still is.
False rumour #2: Dato' Sri Syed is no longer Managing Director of Proton.
Fact: Again rubbish. He still is.
You can thank good old Tony Fernandes for these two. Don't take everything he tweets too seriously - perhaps he's still frustrated about owning Caterham instead of Lotus and the fact that he fights HRT and Marussia instead of Mercedes and Ferrari in F1.
And whilst we're on the subject of jokes - do you know the latest F1 joke? Mike Gascoyne, Caterham Group's Chief Technical Officer, has gone missing. Why? He's looking for the 30 to 40 points he predicted for the last F1 season. Funny.
Speaking of F1: It seems that one special so called ‘independent' source is at the root of the lion's share of damaging rumours and misleading stories. The delightful Joe Saward which leads us nicely to....
False rumour #3: Joe Saward is JUST an independent journalist.
Fact: He is an active Director for the Caterham Group.
And unlike some, we don't want to get too personal, so we'll leave it to you to judge how ‘independent' his stories about Lotus are.
False rumour #4: Group Lotus is no longer involved in F1.
Fact: Lotus F1 Team and Group Lotus have reshaped their commercial relationship earlier this year. The new governance agreement signifies the continued commitment of Group Lotus to the team and the sport.
Group Lotus' branding and marketing rights and subsequent activities remain unaffected by the new agreement until at least 2017. Alongside continued branding and title partnership status, Group Lotus is also the exclusive master licensee for all Lotus F1 Team merchandise.
The new agreement was reached following Group Lotus owners Proton providing team owners Genii with a £30m loan which is repayable within three years. In order to secure the loan Genii used 100% of the F1 team's assets as collateral meaning that under the conditions of the loan agreement Proton have been given full title guarantee to all plant, machinery, show cars, computers, office and the Lotus F1 Team headquarters.
In addition Proton retains the rights to purchase 10% of the F1 team. Another 10% share option will be activated if the team default on their loan obligations with Proton.
Again we leave it to your judgement how ‘bad' Lotus' current situation in F1 is. And speaking of bad situations.....
False rumour #5: Group Lotus is going into administration.
Fact: Rubbish. The takeover of our parent company Proton by DRB-HICOM couldn't have come at a worse time, but up until that point Proton was (and still remains) fully committed to our five year business plan to create jobs and to expand the factory and business. With the takeover process the funding has been restricted and DRB-HICOM is taking time to understand what to do with the business. DRB-HICOM is currently in the middle of due diligence of Group Lotus and there have been and continue to be positive discussions between Group Lotus senior management and senior management at DRB-HICOM both here in Hethel and in Malaysia. At no point has DRB-HICOM indicated to Group Lotus that it intends to put the company into administration. The over-active rumour mill is seriously damaging our business reputation, image and credibility but it is what it is.
The simple fact is, and we haven't denied this - Lotus is going through a very difficult phase at the moment but we are showing true fighting spirit every day in trying to keep this vision alive. This is also a fact - no matter what people outside of Lotus may say or tweet or blog.
Image courtesy of F1 Images