Lotus Elise: Autoweek


Romano Artioli, flamboyant head of the New Bugatti misadventure, has resigned as director of special projects for Lotus Cars Ltd. Artioli "is leaving the company to pursue other interests," but will continue to represent 20 percent of the equity in Lotus Group International. He became Lotus chairman in 1993 and stepped down to director of special projects in 1996, when HiCom of Malaysia bought 80 percent of the automaker/engineering firm.

Artioli may resurface with yet another automotive project. A Lotus spokesman, swom to sticking to the press release script, hinted Artioli may have something already in the works. Speculation in Italy pegs Artioli as part of a group interested in pursuing Lamborghini, whose Indonesian owners may unload as a result of that country's economic woes.

Whatever... Artioli may have caught an early lifeboat off the proverbial Titanic. While Lotus cars--especially the Elise-are selling well lately, the firm's special projects business is hurting. An estimated 70 percent of this business comes from deals with Asian companies. Lotus reportedly has laid off 100 engineers and HiCom has sent a collection of corporate mementos to the auction block for the Coys International Historic Festival at Silverstone July 25.

Among the Lotus auction items are 25 cars, including Colin Chapman's own Elan + 2S 130 and a couple of James Bond

May 11, 1998