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Lotus Elise, Exige, and Evora production ceases

After 26 years and 51,738 cars Lotus ends production of its three E-model mainstays

23 Dec 2021

LOTUS has ended production of its Elise, Exige and Evora sports cars. The trio was photographed in Hethel, England (where the firm has been based since 1966) with many of the team responsible for the assembly, design, engineering and sales of the brand’s three E-model mainstays.


Combined, the three models have contributed to almost half of all vehicles produced by Lotus in its 73-year history. 


The British marque also produced 9715 vehicles for third-party clients such as GM and Tesla. These included 7200 Opel Speedsters and Vauxhall VX220s (from 2000 to 2005) and 2515 Tesla Roadsters between 2007 and 2012 – including the example that Elon Musk sent into space!


“First of all, I would like to thank the Lotus team who have worked on the Elise, Exige and Evora over the years and who are now transferring to Emira and Evija manufacturing,” Lotus Cars managing director Matt Windle said.


“I would also like to convey enormous gratitude to all the customers of the Elise, Exige and Evora over the last 26 years, for their passion, enthusiasm and support. These customers have given our ‘three Es’ true cult status – usually reserved for long-out-of-production classics. 


“As we say farewell to the last few cars, we look forward to producing the Emira and Evija in the all-new factories at Hethel and sub-assembly facilities in Norwich, where we will implement greater efficiencies and automation, achieve higher quality and flexibility and begin a hugely exciting next chapter in our Vision80 strategy,” he added.


Lotus said that since production of the Elise began in 1996 it had sold 35,124 examples of the elemental sportscar. The Exige, introduced in 2000, garnered a total of 10,497 sales, while 6117 units of the Evora, which entered  production in 2011, were sold across the globe. 


The final production run consisted of Lotus 340R, Europa, 2-Eleven, and 3-Eleven cars.


The cars pictured include one of each variant – an Elise Sport 240 Final Edition in Yellow, an Exige Cup 340 Final Edition in Heritage Racing Green and an Evora GT340 Sport in Dark Metallic Grey. 


Lotus says the trio’s current assembly lines, which were installed in 2000, will be disassembled and replaced with modern production lines to support production of the all-new Emira – Lotus’ last petrol-powered production car.


Production of the Emira will commence in Q2 next year after the new model’s prototype- and test phases have been completed. The new production line will be capable of churning out as many as 5000 examples of the Emira annually, based on a single-shift pattern.


The Emira will be joined by the Evija electric hypercar and the all-electric Type 132, Lotus’ first SUV, which will be revealed to the world around the second quarter of 2022.


Richard Rackham, Head of Vehicle Concepts, who was part of the team that pioneered extruded- and bonded aluminium technology in the automotive industry, said: “The impact of these three cars has been spectacular over the years, technically, structurally and dynamically.


“But all technologies and innovations move on and, if you had asked me of my proudest moment four years ago, I would have, without hesitation, said (being the vehicle architect of) the Elise chassis. However, this has been usurped by our new Project LEVA architecture for our new range of electric sports cars, starting with the Type 135 in a few years’ time. 


“This is now the zenith of Lotus architectures, because it has moved the technology game so much further. There is a lot to look forward to,” Mr Rackham concluded.


The final examples of the Elise, Exige and Evora models are reserved for Lotus’ growing heritage collection. 

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