Lotus Engineering continued to rapidly expand, acquiring testing and development facilities in the USA, and Lotus Engineering Inc. in Ann Arbor, Michigan was established. This represented a crucial in-road to the important American market for the automotive consultancy business.
On the eve of the inaugural round of the Autobytel Lotus Championship race series at Brands Hatch, Lotus thrilled the crowds by unveiling the new Exige (right). Styled on the Sport Elise racer (below), the Exige was an exhilarating yet well mannered road car, with the soul of a track car.
In response to enthusiasts demand for even more performance Lotus responded with the introduction of the Sport 160. An awesome performer that made a big impression with the track day crowd.
However, by far the most significant event of the year was the launch of the new generation Elise with improved performance, styling, handling and quality (pictured right).
The sports car was immediately labeled by the press ‘The best just got better’, and enforced Lotus’ position at the forefront of vehicle design technology.
The new bespoke Research and Development Centre at Hethel opened in July, and Lotus Design was the first department to move in.
The first 340R’s are delivered to customers.
Lotus, famous for taking things to extremes, provided support to Coventry University design student, Ted Mannerfelt. Ted’s Extreme concept design study complemented the Lotus design ethos – it was light, quick, innovative, agile, and was influenced by the worlds of aerospace, motorbikes and powerboats. The Extreme (pictured left) had two powerplants - a 100bhp 700cc motorbike engine running on natural gas, and a 20bhp electric motor - producing 0-60mph in 5.0secs, and yet returned 110mpg.
The first year of the new millennium saw Lotus building more cars than ever before in its 53 year history and soon after being voted “Britain’s Best Driver’s Car" by Autocar Magazine.
Lotus announced its new Engineering Operations Centre in Technology Park Malaysia” (TPM) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The favourable and fast moving ASEAN economy had prompted Lotus to develop a greater presence in this region and in particular in Malaysia. As a “corporate neighbour” to some of the worlds leading car manufacturers, Lotus was able to offer a number of benefits to its customers including improved communications with its clients and the ability to stay in tune with the ASEAN market.
The Esprit, unveiled in 1972 as a concept at the Turin Motorshow, entered production in the mid 1970’s, and was accepted as being one of the world’s finest supercars. To celebrate 30 years of this performance car, Lotus gave the Esprit an up-to-date facelift.
Lotus unveiled an addition to the Elise range with the 156hp Elise 111S
PROTON acquired the remaining shares from ACBN Holdings and so become 100% shareholders in Lotus Group International Ltd.
Lotus Cars were awarded the Queens Award for Enterprise, for contribution to International Trade, one of just 85 companies receiving recognition in that category in 2002.
Late 2003 saw the last Lotus Esprit roll off the production line marking the end of over 27 years of production.
In addition to announcing that the Elise will be on sale in US for 2004, Lotus also announced that it will also go on sale in Mexico and Russia.
A new Lotus Exige is announced for 2004.
Lotus became the shirt sponsor for Norwich City Football team, ‘the Canaries’, reinforcing links with the local community and a popular sport.
At the 2004 Geneva Show, Lotus presented the new Lotus Exige on the world stage. At the same event Lotus also launched a track version, the Lotus Exige Series 2.
At the end of January, Lotus launched the new 189hp Lotus Elise 111R.
The new Lotus Elise 111R is awarded Best Sports Car 2004 by BBC Top Gear, bringing the total number of awards to over 50 since the cars debut in 1995
In America, the Elise goes on sale and was star of the Show at the Los Angeles Motorshow.
20 000th Lotus Elise Drives Off The Production Line, making it the most popular Lotus ever.
The new Elise set a new one-year sales record in the USA, firmly re-establishing Lotus as the pure sports car brand for the U.S. market.
Over 2,300 cars were delivered, establishing the Elise as the most successful model in Lotus' 57-year history.
The Lotus Sport Exige, the 400bhp 850kg GT2 specification race car debuted in 2005 and built by Lotus Sport, Hethel, UK, won the Petronas Primax 3 Merdeka Millennium 12 Hour Endurance race trophy at the International Sepang circuit, Malaysia on Sunday 27th August.
Lotus Engineering reveals its Versatile Vehicle Architecture (VVA) concept.
Group Lotus announced that its debt capitalisation was completed on 31st March 2007, with the support of shareholder, Proton Holdings Berhad. The arrangement secured the restructuring of approximately £45m of loans to equity, returning the company to a positive balance sheet.
In January Lotus went into the Guinness Book of Records for the biggest meet of any marque when 311 Lotus sports cars turned up at Brands Hatch and formed a nose to tail lap.
The 2 Eleven is launched at Geneva Motorshow, promising exceptional performance coupled with high levels of usability. The Lotus 2-Eleven is aimed at the true track day enthusiast, taking Colin Chapman's philosophy of `Performance Through Light Weight' to its most extreme level yet.
The all new Evora is unveiled – the first all-new car to be launched by Lotus since the Elise made its debut in 1995. The only mid-engined 2+2 on the market at the time, the Evora was powered by a Lotus-tuned 3.5-litre V6 engine producing 280 PS, and weighing just 1382 kg.
Group Lotus plc, announced the creation of Lotus Lightweight Structures, following the acquisition of Holden Lightweight Structures Limited, securing the supply of aluminium fabrications for use on Lotus production, and to support client projects.
The ClarkType 25 was launched as a limited edition to celebrate Jum Clark's genius as a driver.
Lotus celebrates its 60th anniversary with a celebratory event at Hethel. The event was opened by the late Colin Chapman’s wife, Hazel and son, Clive.
The Eco Elise was shown at the London International Motor Show; an eco-friendly concept car using sustainable materials to create an Elise that has better environmental credentials throughout its entire lifecycle.
Lotus Engineering celebrated being awarded ‘The Engineer Technology + Innovation Award of 2008’ with another environmentally focused project. The winning project, Project HOTFIRE, developed a gasoline direct injection (GDI) engine concept that reduced fuel consumption by 15% and was named the leading academic collaborative project in the automotive sector.
The Lotus Sport 2-Eleven GT4 Supersport race car asserted itself at the pinnacle of the 2-Eleven range, combining race winning pedigree with unparalleled handling and balance.
In the July CEO Mike Kimberley, at the age of 71, retired due to ill health. Under Mike's leadership, Lotus launched the award-winning Lotus Evora with universal acclaim from the world’s automotive press.
Evora wins a multitude of awards, including the prestigious Top Gear Magazine’s ‘Sportscar of the Year, Car Magazine’s ‘Performance Car of the Year’, EVO Magazine’s ‘Car of the Year’, and Autocar’s ‘Britiain’s Best Driver’s Car’.
Lotus announces the appointments of Claudio Berro as Director of Motorsport, and Donato Coco as Director of Design for Group Lotus.
Lotus Engineering, unveiled the Range Extender engine at the Frankfurt International Motor Show in a series hybrid vehicle. The Range Extender engine was attached to an electricity generator and provides a highly efficient source of energy to power the electric motor directly or charges the vehicles battery. The battery could also power the electric motor which enables the design of a drivetrain that has low emissions, optimised performance and acceptable range.
The Lotus Evora Type 124 Endurance Racecar was developed from the award-winning Evora road car and is built to FIA regulations and safety standards. The Type 124 (pronounced One Twenty Four) Endurance Racecar is the next step in the evolution of the Evora
In October Lotus is honoured to welcome the King and Queen of Malaysia to Hethel.
It is announced that the Lotus name will reappear in the 2010 Formula One season.