Lotus Elise: Rumors!

These are rumors! Nothing more, nothing substantial, and probably long outdated. At least they show a history of rumor mongering...

side view from 1998 brochure

Miscellaneous: Internet:

Date: Mon, 16 Jun 2003 10:22:42 -0400
From: Rob
Subject: Autoexpress Article

Please find below the subject article. Sounds like good news to me............

"Toyota Power For New Elise

Some say that all the best stuff comes from America, but we've never had to thank the USA for a Lotus before. Exclusive spy shots in the current issue of Auto Expresss magazine confirm what we suggested back in issue 733 - the firm has shoe-horned a 190bhp Toyota engine into the Elise.

Tell-tale signs on this development car are mostly at the back, where blanking plates cover the standard model's pipe outlets, and a centre-mounted exhaust has appeared. The wheels also give the game away, with five-stud rear alloys borrowed from the VX220 Turbo, suggesting that the Vauxhall's beefier suspension has been adopted. The eight-spoke fronts are taken from the 111S, which forms this prototype's underpinnings.

So what's the American link? The Elise is to use a 2.2-litre VVTi Toyota engine and gearbox so it can be exported to the States without the need for expensive emissions tests. The powerplant is already on sale in America in the Camry. Lotus bosses are keen to return to the US market as soon as possible, since their only export - the Esprit - has been discontinued.

Of course, the Japanese-engined Elise will also go on sale in the UK, alongside the existing K-Series unit. However, it is likely to replace the track day-inspired Sport 190, which is peaky and impractical in daily motoring. The new model will also let Lotus catch up with Vauxhall's VX220 Turbo, which has raised the standard for stripped-out high-performance roadsters.

The engine was one of a number considered for the Elise. It was chosen over a larger 2.5-litre V6 Rover unit and Honda's 2.0 VTEC from the S2000, because these were seen as too expensive, big and heavy for the job. If the new Toyota-derived model is a success, the running gear is likely to be adopted across the range when a new Elise is launched in 2005. A concept which will reveal the replacement's styling is expected at next year's Geneva Motor Show. Chris Thorp "

Obviously we will see the car at latest in January at L.A. or Detroit. Expect about 200 hp with Lotus management and tweaking. Thank God no GM Ecotech garbage. Anybody have the pictures?

Motorcycle power

April 1999: Motorcycle powered Elise for sale

November 1998: Lotus has already selected a new engine for the Elise, to be available in 2001.

November 1998: Lotus board desires to withdraw from US market in September 1999. They change their mind when Arnie makes a trip and pitches profit and continued sales of the Esprit. New Elise will be available in 2001, new body and new engine.

importing to the United States

  • John O'Rear talks about the M100 failure, also referencing the Harley and niche markets
  • I happen across a document listing the specific changes required to federalize the Elise. The source of the document is Lotus UK, who will apparently supply the necessary components to do the work! Modifications fit requirements for complying with year 2001!
  • I start contacting Registered Importers in an attempt to import a grey market Elise, with little success.
  • Ed wrote a nice column, lamenting the loss of Alfa and perhaps Lotus
  • Long period of dispair (summer and fall of 1998), no Elise in sight, LCU can sell 500 per year, and that is not enough for Lotus UK. They want at least 1000 a year.
  • Steve Brightman talks about Elise marketing in America
  • From Karl, various rumors, about production capacity and such
  • As of February 1998, if you have a relationship with your local Lotus dealer, please call and tell them about your interest in the Elise.
  • Lotus looking at a Rover (BMW!) V6, perhaps for the US market?
  • There are strong rumors the car will be brought to the United States.
    • coupe
    • V6 engine, 170 hp, perhaps a Ford from the Coutour
    • sills will be high but later drop for ease of entry
    • longer, additional length for the engine and for more stable handling
    • softer seats
    • comfort modifications including radio, floor mats, power door locks
    • optional air conditioning
    • immoblizer
    • comming Summer of 1998
    • other
      • $7 million to develop original, $8 million to federalize
      • not using Hydro, extruded and manufactured in US
      • rear diffuser adds 50n/m stiffing
      • no road height changes required to add diffuser
      • 100mph adds 300lbs down force
      • short chassis has nervous handling
      • chassis supports head dissapation for 200 hp
  • (The current, latest word from Lotus is the car will not be exported to the United States. I can think of lots of reasons to bring it here. I want one desperately. But I can think of many reasons why Lotus has not done so yet. They were not successful with the Elan (M100). The Elise will require air bags, bumpers, and a federalized engine. And as Patrick notes, crash testing, emissions testing and general federalization all cost a fortune. Please let me know your thoughts and I will happily pass them on to Lotus.)
  • Derick Boom suggests a racing series. It appears Selwa is busy trying to do just that.
  • Oliver Everett letter, February, 1996 I wrote Oliver Everett, Lotus head of marketing and sales, a letter offering to create the Elise page, and pestering him to export the car to America. This is a gif (56K) copy of his response, including a promise to tell me first of the car's arrival! (I will not hold him to it, just so long as it finally gets here.)
  • more rumors from the Internet

The following is a letter to the editor, as it appeared in Autoweek, August 17, 1998. It refers to an article about all the gimicks appearing on cars these days. It expresses the sentiments of the typical Elise buyer:

SALLY CAN'T DANCE In response to your "Longing for a car without a stove" (AW, Jaundiced Eye, July 27), let me raise my hand and be called upon. There are numerous reasons why the manufacturers have lost me, such as the number of gizmos that are included in a price that is beyond my reach or desire. I long for the return of the days of no airbags, no ABS, no traction control, no DRL, no side-impact beams, no fwd, no plastic body cladding and yes, no radio, heater or variable wipers. Even rubber mats might be a consideration. Sigh. . . you can call me "Sally."

ROBERT HALL, Arcadia, Calif.