TO: Dany Bahar, CEO Group Lotus
At last years Paris Auto Show, you shocked the automotive world in announcing five all new models – an industry first. As a long-time fan and former Lotus owner, I was ecstatic to see a bold statement from a company long mired in the status quo. Sure, there have been some hits (Evora) and some misses (Europa), but nothing that has changed the game for Lotus. While SAAB faltered in a crumbling economy, I along with millions of others, cringed, fearing that Lotus would come next. Something had to be done!
Other companies have been there… Porsche re-invented themselves in 1996 with the release of a back to basics roadster, and again in 2003 with their entry into the SUV market. Porsche did not change their identity, they applied their core values to new segments of product. Today, they offer class-defining vehicles ranging from a $48,000 Boxster to the forthcoming $845,000 918 Spyder. Porsche ‘s success can be attributed to many factors, but one matters most – the product was always fantastic. In this world, you have to be the best or the least expensive – if you exist in the murky middle zone, you had better do tremendous volume. And thus, the crux of my issue with the Lotus five-year plan. You cannot out-Ferrari Ferrari, beat Porsche, or stun Lamborghini, not with the cars you displayed in Paris! Why? I have seen your speculative pricing, and as for your competitive set… man, you have a steep mountain to climb. If the writing on the wall is legitimate, Porsche, Ferrari and Lamborghini will utilize lightweight materials in lieu of furthering the horsepower wars. Don’t you see it? You lucked into a win, they are trying to meet you in the middle; meanwhile, you are flipping the company upside down to compete with their current products.