Lotus Exige Scura to be unveiled at Tokyo

Lotus Cars unveils its latest special edition – the Exige Scura, so called due to its dramatic matt black and carbon fibre theme, at the Tokyo International Motorshow on 21st of October 2009.

Lotus Exige Scura

Translated as ‘dark’ from Italian, the name ‘Scura’ reflects the stealth character of this already fierce looking Lotus and its stunning soft-feel matt black paint finish. Limited to just 35 cars globally, this Exige evokes a desire to ‘indulge your dark side’. This is a serious looking car and enhancements to performance and a reduction in weight from the production level Exige S means that the Exige Scura demands to be driven by a serious driver.

Contrasting high gloss ‘Phantom Black’ triple stripes run the length of the car and a carbon fibre front splitter, oil cooler inlet vanes, side airscoops and rear spoiler enhance the stunning distinction between the different textures and exaggerate the tactile quality of the velvety touch to the matt black paint finish.

Luke Bennett, Director of Lotus Cars said, “The Exige Scura is a stunning vehicle which offers an adrenaline fuelled experience and is a real head-turner! Our Exige customers choose Lotus because we deliver thrilling performance and dynamic design and this special edition fits the bill on both counts.”

Continuing the dark ‘Scura’ appearance into the interior, carbon fibre is used extensively to compliment the exterior theme and reduce weight. The seats and centre console are crafted from carbon fibre and the handbrake and gear knob have a special anodized treatment which leaves the metal with an anthracite colour finish. All carbon fibre components have been beautifully finished in high-gloss clear lacquer allowing the weave to remain exposed which gives the cabin a raw and racy ambiance.

Whilst there is no doubt that this is a visually stunning car, the Exige Scura is not just about its looks – it begs to be taken on track, and its racing character encompasses poise, power and technology to make it a serious contender. Equipped with the most powerful engine in the Exige range and generating 260PS, the Exige Scura achieves a top speed of around 245 km/h and reaches 0-100 kmh in just 4.1 seconds.

Other equipment fitted as standard to boost the Exige Scura’s track credentials include:

* Launch control to ensure optimum performance from a standing start
* Variable slip traction control, enabling the driver to tune the car to track surface conditions and their own driving style
* Ohlins 2-way adjustable dampers for personalised ride and handling characteristics

Roger Becker, Vehicle Engineering Director, highlighted the performance of the Exige Scura, “There are very few cars in the world that turn in the performance of the Exige Scura without the penalty of very high fuel consumption and emissions. As with all Lotus sportscars we offer the best of both worlds – a zero to 100 km/h time of just over 4 seconds and a CO2 figure of 199 g/km; all this is down to light weight and a strict adherence to Lotus’ core brand values.”

Considering the performance on offer, the Exige Scura boasts impressive all round fuel economy with an Official European Combined Cycle figure of 8.5 litres/100 km and 6.5 litres/100 km on the Official European Extra Urban Cycle and emissions of 199 g/km of CO2.

Orders for the ‘Lotus Exige Scura’ will be accepted from 21 October 2009 in Europe, South Korea, Australia, South Africa, Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Indonesia and Malaysia. This special edition will be available on the same basis in Japan known as the ‘Lotus Exige Stealth’.

The Exige Scura in more detail

Scura1

Performance and enhancements;

* 0-100 kmh in 4.1 seconds and 199 g/km CO2
* Lotus Launch Control and Lotus Traction Control as standard

The Lotus Exige Scura uses the 1.8 litre supercharged and intercooled 260 PS engine from the range topping Exige Cup 260, including the lightweight flywheel and lightweight supercharger pipework. Coupled with Ohlins 2 way adjustable dampers and Eibach Springs with variable height spring platforms, unique matt black lightweight forged wheels and super sticky Yokohama A048 LTS tyres, ride and handling is as expected for a Lotus!

Lightweight carbon fibre components, including sports seats, interior centre console, front splitter, oil cooler inlet vanes, side airscoops and rear spoiler help to keep the weight to 10kg less than the Lotus Exige S (at just 925 kg).

Lotus Launch Control and Lotus Traction Control – additions recommended for track driving

Lotus Launch Control and Lotus Traction Control were originally developed for the Lotus Exige GT3 racing programme.

The launch control allows the driver to determine the number of revs they wish to use during a standing start. Having programmed that limit, the driver then holds the throttle pedal down fully and sidesteps the clutch pedal for a very quick departure from the line. The clutch damper cushions the severity of the clutch to transmission engagement to minimise the stresses to the drivetrain. The launch control allows wheel-spin until 10 km/h (6 mph) to further reduce drivetrain stress, after which the traction control assumes its duties at the defined level set by the driver.

As with launch control, the amount of traction control required can be dialled in from the driver’s seat and altered on the move to suit the characteristics of particular corners. The amount of traction control can be varied in over 30 increments from an optimum 7 percent tyre slip to completely inactive. The message display in the new instrument pack displays what degree of traction control is being currently utilised.

Suspension

To suit individual driving styles and road conditions, drivers will now be able to tune the Exige suspension with the Ohlins two-way adjustable dampers (which have 60 compression and 22 rebound settings) and ride height adjustment to reduce the ride height from 130 mm to 120 mm.

Performance, Economy and Emissions

The Lotus Exige Scura is capable of incredible track performance which and at the heart of its success is the aerodynamic package, which produces 42 kg of downforce at 160 km/h (100 mph) increasing grip and stability at higher speeds. This downforce, coupled with a top speed of around 245 km/h (152 mph) and a zero to 160 km/h (100 mph) in circa 9.9 seconds, 0 to 100 km/h in circa 4.1 seconds (0 to 60 mph in around 4 seconds), means that the Exige Stealth is not only stunning to look at but a phenomenal performer too. Combined cycle fuel consumption is 8.5 l/100km and the CO2 emissions 199 g/km.

Engine

The supercharged and intercooled engine in the Exige Scura has a maximum power output of 260 PS (257 hp) at 8000 rpm and a torque figure of 236 Nm (174 lbft) at 6000 rpm. This significant amount of extra power and torque over the production level Exige S together with the VVTL-i variable cam system ensures that there is a smooth and linear delivery of power from low engine speeds all the way to the maximum 8000 rpm (8500 rpm transient for 2 seconds). The supercharger (with a sealed-for-life internal mechanism meaning that it does not require the use of the engine’s oil) is run from the crankshaft and has an integral bypass valve for part load operation. Charge air (air under pressure from the supercharger) is cooled through an air-to-air intercooler (the air enters via the enhanced roof scoop) before being fed into the engine itself. All charge air ducting has been kept as short as possible with large diameter pipes to minimise restriction and maximise throttle response and efficiency. Four high capacity injectors and an uprated fuel pump add additional fuel under hard acceleration or continuous high speed driving – only on the track, of course!

A lightweight flywheel is fitted (giving even greater flexibility and response to the gear change), a sports-type clutch plate and heavy duty clutch cover transfer the engine power and torque to the lightweight C64 six-speed gearbox (with an aluminium casing) – with the same perfectly spaced ratios as the Exige S. An Accusump (engine oil accumulator unit) is included in the whole package as an oil reservoir back-up for extreme track use ensuring that, under those conditions, the engine oil pressure remains constant.

Recommended retail prices of the standard road specification Lotus Exige Scura

UK (MSRP)

Recommended retail price (including VAT) is £45,000 (an additional £950 is charged for on the road costs. These include delivery, PDI, first service, number plates, first registration fee, valet, 12 months Road Fund Licence and a full tank of fuel).

Recommended retail prices of the standard road specification Lotus Exige Scura for the following markets (MSRP) (including transport, delivery, local taxes and first service but excluding registration, license plates and or a full tank of fuel):

Belgium € 61.820,–

France € 61.200,–

Italy € 61.885,–

Switzerland CHF 90.225,–

Recommended retail prices of the standard road specification Lotus Exige Scura for the following markets (MSRP) (including local taxes but excluding transport, registration, license plates and or a full tank of fuel):

Germany € 60.000,–

Recommended retail prices for other Euro Zone Countries (MSRP) (excluding local taxes, transport, registration, license plates and or a full tank of fuel):

Euro Zone € 50.420,–

Paint Warranty

The Lotus Exige Scura is painted in a ‘soft feel’ water borne matt black paint finish that is resistant to most normal forms of atmospheric attack provided the special cleaning and maintenance requirements as specified by Lotus are strictly adhered to. However due to the textured matt finish, fading or discolouration of all or part of the matt paint finish may occur during the early life of the vehicle and this is considered normal and is specifically excluded from any warranty given by Lotus. The special matt paint finish utilised on the Lotus Scura is provided with a limited warranty of the earlier of 12 months or 12,000 miles/20,000 km from the date of first registration of the vehicle. Please consult your Authorised Lotus Dealer for full details.

Lotus Exige Scura
Lotus Exige Scura Lotus Exige Scura Lotus Exige Scura

Official European Combined Cycle = 8.5 litres / 100 km (33.2 mpg)
Official European Extra Urban Cycle = 6.5 litres/100 km (43.5 mpg)
Official European Urban Cycle = 11.9 litre/100 km (23.7 mpg)
CO2 emissions = 199 g/km

Lotus Triumphs at Engineering Awards

Lotus Engineering, the world-renowned automotive consultancy division of Lotus, has been victorious in the recent British Engineering Excellence Awards, winning the Judges’ Special Award, while also being named Highly Commended in the Consultancy of the Year category.

Mark James, Head of UK Operations at Lotus Engineering, collecting the Judges’ Special Award
Mark James, Head of UK Operations at Lotus Engineering, collecting the Judges’ Special Award

The British Engineering Excellence Awards recognise the design engineering excellence of industry and show the world the depth of variety of engineering design innovation throughout the UK. The Judges’ Special Award was presented to acknowledge a company that epitomised the aim of the British Engineering Excellence Awards by being recognised globally as a world leader in its chosen field of engineering.

Paul Newsome, Managing Director of Lotus Engineering said: “We are delighted by this recognition from the British Engineering Excellence Awards, a testament to the hard work of our talented, visionary work force. Lotus Engineering is revered for innovation, outstanding driving dynamics, exciting niche vehicles and efficient performance engineering and continues to offer a unique blend of technical expertise and proven ability to create successful products that stand out in the market place. Lotus Engineering has seen a 23% sales increase over the last financial year, an incredible achievement in what is a challenging market, firmly reinforcing our position as one of the world’s leading automotive consultancies.”

The judges looked at recent projects that had been undertaken and assessed how Lotus Engineering has been able to diversify its knowledge base and to deliver world class engineering solutions. They were impressed that the company had continued to thrive despite the economic problems experienced by the sector in the last 18 months.

In summing up Lotus Engineering’s achievements, the panel of Judges said: “Most of its business is derived from engineering services and it is even more impressive when you think about the size of some of the companies that have gone to Lotus for its help. Lotus is a truly excellent organisation and an obvious flag bearer for all that is good in UK engineering.”

Lotus confirmed for 2010 F1 season

The Fia has confirmed that the Lotus name will officially be returning to Formula 1 for the 2010 season. While not currently affiliated with Group Lotus, the team will initially be based out of Norfolk and is backed by Malaysian Government and a consortium of Malaysian entrepreneurs. The team’s future design, R&D, manufacturing and technical centre will be purpose built at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit.

Press release from the FIA:

Following an intensive selection and due diligence process, the FIA has awarded the 13th entry in the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship to the Lotus F1 Team.

The FIA also received an impressive application from the BMW Sauber Team. However, given that BMW has announced it will withdraw its support in 2010, there are still uncertainties regarding the future ownership of the team.

Nevertheless, the FIA considers that BMW Sauber’s application is of high quality and would constitute a competitive participant in the Championship. As such, it has awarded BMW Sauber the ’14th place’ in the Championship meaning that it will be entitled to fill any vacancy that arises on the 2010 grid.

In addition, the FIA believes that a good case can be made for expanding the grid to 14 teams. The FIA will be consulting urgently with the existing teams regarding the introduction of an appropriate rule change to expand the grid to 28 cars in time for the first Grand Prix in 2010.

Detailed below is information about the new team that has been confirmed to compete in the Championship from next year.

Company Name: 1Malaysia F1 Team Sdn Bhd
Team Name: Lotus F1 Team
Country: Malaysia
Team Principal: Tony Fernandes

A partnership between the Malaysian Government and a consortium of Malaysian entrepreneurs, 1Malaysia F1 Team returns the Lotus name as a constructor to Formula One for the first time since 1994. The team will initially be based at the RTN facility in Norfolk, UK, some 10 miles from the Lotus Cars factory. A 50,000 square foot fully equipped facility, RTN was built by Toyota for its initial Formula One programme and then used by Bentley for its successful Le Mans programme.

The team’s future design, R&D, manufacturing and technical centre will be purpose built at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit.

Team Principal Tony Fernandes is the founder and CEO of the Malaysian-based Tune Group, owner of the Air Asia airline. The team’s Technical Director Mike Gascoyne has over 20 years of experience in Formula One having previously performed the same role for the Force India, Toyota, Renault and Jordan Formula One teams.

As part of its application to compete in the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship, the team has agreed an engine supply deal with Cosworth and a wide variety of technical partnerships including Xtrac and FondTech.

Lotus Range Extender Engine Revealed

The Lotus Range Extender – designed specifically for the new breed of highly efficient series hybrid vehicles.

lotus-range-extender-engine

Lotus Engineering, the world-renowned automotive consultancy division of Lotus, unveils its Range Extender engine at the 63rd Frankfurt International Motor Show. In a series hybrid vehicle, the Range Extender engine is attached to an electricity generator and provides a highly efficient source of energy to power the electric motor directly or charge the vehicles battery. The battery can also power the electric motor which enables the design of a drivetrain that has low emissions, optimised performance and acceptable range.

The Lotus Range Extender engine features an innovative architecture comprising an aluminium monoblock construction, integrating the cylinder block, cylinder head and exhaust manifold in one casting. This results in reduced engine mass, assembly costs, package size and improved emissions and engine durability.

The three-cylinder 1.2 litre Range Extender engine is optimised between two power generation points, giving 15 kW of electrical power at 1,500 rpm and 35 kW at 3,500 rpm via the integrated electrical generator. Its low mass of 56 kg makes it ideal for the series hybrid drivetrain configurations for which it is designed. The engine uses an optimised two-valve port-fuel injection combustion system to reduce cost and mass and, in line with Lotus Engineering’s extensive research into renewable fuels, can be operated on alcohol-based fuels or gasoline.

For successful market uptake of series hybrid vehicles with acceptable driving range, vehicle manufacturers must overcome the challenges of high vehicle cost. The Lotus Range Extender engine not only offers the advantage of a cost effective design, but also its high efficiency and low mass will enable the downsizing of expensive batteries whilst maintaining vehicle efficiency and range. The engine has been designed using production methodologies and the parts procured from low volume potential production suppliers, offering a fast route to market for original equipment manufacturers wanting to source a dedicated range extender for series hybrid vehicles.

Paul Newsome, Managing Director of Lotus Engineering said: “As the world changes, Lotus Engineering continues to change with it, continuously developing solutions for more sustainable transportation. The Lotus Range Extender engine is another example of Lotus Engineering developing new technologies for efficient performance, this time in the area of series hybrid vehicles. The engine concept we have created with its optimised combustion and compact, low mass, low cost construction is a clear demonstration of the expertise and progressive approach Lotus takes for its own research and for its clients.”

The Lotus Range Extender engine has been developed as part of the ‘Limo-Green’ project funded by the UK’s Technology Strategy Board, a collaboration between Lotus Engineering, Jaguar Cars Ltd, MIRA Ltd and Caparo Vehicle Technologies, demonstrating a large, lightweight, prestigious executive saloon with less than 120 g/km CO2 emissions.

Simon Wood, Technical Director of Lotus Engineering said: “Most series hybrid vehicles that are currently being developed will use adaptations of existing, conventional engines which are therefore compromised in the efficiency that they can achieve, designed as they are for a wide range of operating conditions. Designing the Lotus Range Extender purely for use in series hybrids has allowed us instead to develop an optimised engine that has high thermal efficiency, low fuel consumption, multi-fuel capability and a 35 kW peak output from a 1.2 litre, low cost architecture over the precise operating range required by a series hybrid drivetrain.”

Technical details:

Technical specification of the Lotus Range Extender engine

General

1.2 litre 3-cylinder with 2 valves per cylinder, SOHC

Belt driven

Construction

Monoblock with Integrated Exhaust Manifold

All aluminium

Balance shaft (optional)

Direct-coupled generator

Bore and Stroke

75.0 mm x 90.0 mm

Compression ratio

10:1

Maximum power

35 kW (47 bhp) at 3500 rpm via integrated electrical generator

Peak torque

107 Nm at 2500 rpm

Maximum BMEP

11.2 bar

Maximum Engine Speed

3500 rpm

Fuel System

Port fuel injection, Lotus EMS

Fuel

95 RON ULG / ethanol / methanol

Dry weight

56 kg


Key features of the Range Extender engine in detail:

Monoblock

The Range Extender features a novel engine architecture incorporating a monoblock construction that blends the cylinder head and block together eliminating the need for a cylinder head gasket, improving durability and reducing weight. Approximately 17 parts are eliminated using this approach and the water jacket is better optimised.

Integrated Exhaust Manifold

Lotus Engineering designed and developed a new advanced cylinder head design featuring an integrated exhaust manifold. The production-ready technology can significantly reduce manufacturing costs, emissions and weight. An integrated exhaust manifold has potential to:

o Reduce parts count: 18 fewer components resulting in lower inventory, production, logistics and aftermarket costs

o Weight reduction: total system mass reduction resulting from elimination of separate exhaust manifold

Improved engine durability

Generator

Attached to the engine via the crankshaft, the generator sustains vehicle operation beyond the range provided by the batteries.

Additional Benefits

The Lotus Range Extender engine generates a reduction in emissions through faster light-off of the close-coupled catalytic converter with a reduction in heat loss between the exhaust port and catalyst inlet. Engine operating range is optimised to deliver more efficient running, which also aids underhood thermal management.

Utilisation of the monoblock construction results in an assembly cost reduction, while there is also a reduced catalyst loading requirement because less heat is lost on engine start-up between the exhaust port and catalyst inlet.

Increased vehicle integration flexibility is achieved because of the reduction in mass and the reduced package size leads to reduced space requirements. Particular emphasis has also been placed on the coupling of the generator and NVH signature.

Lotus Appoints New CEO

dany-bahar-lotus-ceo

Dany T. Bahar has been appointed as the new CEO of Group Lotus effective 1st October 2009, replacing Michael J. Kimberley, who retired in July.

Prior to this appointment, Dany Bahar was Senior Vice President, Commercial & Brand for Ferrari SpA where he was responsible for worldwide road car sales and after sales business, overall road car and F1 marketing activities, licensing, and merchandising business.

Before joining Ferrari SpA, Dany Bahar was the Head of Corporate Projects Business in Red Bull GmbH. He was responsible for the overall corporate project business development, with emphasis on diversifying the business such as setting up their F1 strategy with Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso and the US based Nascar Team operations, acquiring football clubs in Salzburg, New York and Ghana for commercial purposes.

On his appointment, Dany Bahar said, “I am looking forward to taking on the challenges as CEO of this legendary and iconic company with a peerless motorsport history. Lotus has a worldwide reputation for innovative engineering and superb sportscars that lead the world in efficiency, design and dynamics. With the recent launch of the award-winning Evora, there is proof that Lotus is better placed than many to capitalise on the rapidly changing automotive market. I can’t wait to get my plans underway in October.”

In welcoming Dany Bahar, Dato’ Mohd Nadzmi Mohd Salleh, the Chairman of Lotus Group, stated “With Dany’s track record in motorsports and Ferrari, we strongly believe that we have found the right CEO to enhance the Lotus image, brand and reputation as a world class sportscar and engineering company. With a strong management team already in place, we are confident this objective can be attained.”

Dany Bahar, a Swiss National, holds an MBA and is married with two children.

Evora Deliveries Begin

Luke Bennett, Director of Lotus Cars (left) hands over the keys of the first customer Lotus Evora to Mr Matthew Melling at the Lotus Headquarters in Norfolk, UK.
Luke Bennett, Director of Lotus Cars (left) hands over the keys of the first customer Lotus Evora to Mr Matthew Melling at the Lotus Headquarters in Norfolk, UK.

Matthew Melling of Twickenham, UK received the keys of a Storm Titanium Lotus Evora from Luke Bennett, Director of Lotus Cars Limited at the Lotus Headquarters where the new mid-engined 2+2 sportscar is hand built.

Many Lotus dealers around the world have already received their demonstrators and Lotus has, so far, received orders for the next 5 months of production. Demand for Lotus’ award winning Evora has meant that 150 extra new manufacturing staff have been recruited to support assembly operations in Norfolk, UK, a very positive sign at a time when the global motor industry faces huge challenges. Full production is expected to reach the maximum rate by the end of November 2009.

Luke Bennett, Director of Lotus Cars Limited said, “It is quite an emotional time to deliver the first Lotus Evora to Mr. Melling. The whole team has worked incredibly hard to design, engineer and produce such a stunning and high performing sportscar and it is a great feeling to hand over the keys to the first customer today. The Evora has won many awards around the world already so we are not surprised that there is high demand for the car and I am sure that each customer who receives their car will be delighted with their purchase.”

Matthew Melling, a customer of Stratton Motor Company, in Norfolk said, “I was determined to be the first in the world to get my hands on an Evora so with Stratton Motor Company’s help, I laid down my deposit within seconds of the order books being opened last year. I have read all the press reviews of the Evora and am so excited about getting behind the wheel – what a great start to September!”

Autocar crown Evora “Britain’s Best Driver’s Car 2009”

The Lotus Evora shows its pedigree fending off tough competition from the world’s best driver’s cars to become Autocar favourite.

The competition included rigorous road and track assessment, using the stunning roads around the South Downs and the fantastic high speed corners at the Goodwood race circuit. The feature included driver’s cars from Aston Martin, Nissan, Porsche, Audi, Lamborghini and Jaguar.

Chas Hallet, Autocar Editor said about the Evora, “The best here. Brilliant on the track. Nimble, delicate and forgiving. Even better on the road.”

Autocar magazine in summing up the competition added, “Decisions don’t come much more clear cut than this, with nine out of 10 judges placing the Evora first. This contest is about finding a car that is not only technically capable, but also thrilling and engaging wherever you drive it, and the Lotus nails those criteria”.

The unique mid-engined 2+2 Lotus Evora combines a super stiff extruded and bonded Aluminium chassis with decades of vehicle dynamics knowledge employed to tune its race car derived double wishbone suspension. The result is a great driver’s car that offers exceptionally high levels of ultimate grip, with performance and braking to match.

Roger Becker, Vehicle Engineering Director said, “The dynamic ability and driving experience of the Evora were the foundation of the engineering process and we are delighted that Autocar has recognised this by giving the Evora this accolade. The Evora offers the great Lotus driving experience in a very comfortable, practical, refined and efficient package, and with only 205 g/km of CO2 it shows that the Evora is a supercar for the 21st century.”

Luke Bennett, Director of Lotus Cars commented, “We are really pleased to win this title as it not only demonstrates the engineering expertise and brilliant manufacturing at Lotus, but also asserts our position in this very exclusive and competitive sector. There is huge global demand for the Evora and to cope with this high demand we are taking on over 150 manufacturing staff, which is roughly a 30% increase.”

Click here to watch Steve Sutcliffe talk about the Evora driving experience. The full article is on the Autocar website.

Mike Kimberley to step down as Group Lotus CEO

Mike Kimberley
Mike Kimberley

The Chief Executive of Group Lotus, Mike Kimberley, announced today that he is stepping down from his role due to an ongoing back problem. An Executive Committee comprising current Group Lotus board members supported by the shareholder, Proton Holdings Bhd, will assume day-to-day control of the business until a successor is appointed.

Mike, who will be 71 in August, has been suffering from severe back pain for a number of months and underwent surgery in late 2008 which was only partially successful. His doctors have now advised him to retire so as not to jeopardize his long term health. Under these circumstances, the board has regretfully accepted his resignation.

Dato’ Syed Zainal, Managing Director of Proton Holdings Bhd, said: “It is a great shame that Mike’s health has forced his departure earlier than any of us would have liked. He has been a great asset to Lotus over four decades. Since his return in 2006, we have seen a huge turnaround in the fortunes of this great company. He leaves Lotus with our deep gratitude and our very best wishes for his retirement.”

Under Mike’s leadership, Lotus has produced the award-winning Lotus Evora, which was recently launched to the world’s press with universal acclaim. He has also overseen the expansion of Lotus Engineering, one of the world’s most respected high-technology engineering consultancy businesses. Group Lotus now has a positive and stable platform despite the global economic downturn and is delivering against its defined growth targets in the company’s strategic business plan.

Mike Kimberley said: “Sadly, it is on doctor’s orders that I am stepping down but I will leave confident that Lotus is in great shape with a strong management team fully supported by our shareholder in Malaysia. It’ll be very hard to leave knowing that there are such exciting times ahead but I’ll take with me many very happy memories. I want to extend my thanks to the company’s shareholder for their unfailing support, my management team and the wonderful staff both at Hethel and at our various operational locations throughout the world. Most of all I want to thank our Lotus customers and loyal fans worldwide for their support over the years.”

Mike will leave Lotus on 17 July 2009.

Mike Kimberley – a Very Brief Resume

Michael J. Kimberley (“Mike”) C.Eng., F.I. Mech. E., F.R.S.A., F.I.E.D, F.I.M.I has had a remarkable career in the motor industry over the last 56 years, working with some of the great engineers, innovators and leaders of the worlds motor companies.

Mike started as an apprentice with Jaguar in 1953 before rapidly progressing to becoming in Section Leader, Special Projects at Jaguar in 1965 where he lead the team developing the Jaguar XJ13 Le Mans car, under such famous names as Jaguar founder Sir William Lyons and Jaguar race director Frank (Lofty) England.

In 1969, he joined Lotus as Manager of Continuous Engineering, with the Lotus Europa Twin Cam being one of his most notable projects. Mike rose steadily but rapidly through the Lotus ranks, joining the Board of Lotus aged 37, and becoming Managing Director of Lotus Cars in 1976 and Managing Director of Lotus Engineering by 1980, being responsible for such Lotus icons as the Esprit, Eclat and Elite.

During the 1970s and 80s, Mike had the unique experience of having worked closely with the company’s founder Colin Chapman, with whom Mike set up the world class Lotus Engineering consultancy to enable Lotus to work for many other cars companies around the world. Lotus Engineering is now a globally recognised high technology engineering consultancy and serves many of the world’s car companies.

After Colin Chapman’s tragic and untimely death in 1982, Mike became C.E.O of Group Lotus plc, as well as holding board positions with a number of Lotus associated companies such as Chairman of Millbrook Proving Ground and President of Moog Systems Inc. With Lotus under General Motors ownership, Mike became Chairman of Group Lotus plc before leaving Lotus in 1992 to become Executive Vice President (General Motors Overseas Corporation) based in South East Asia. Two years later, Mike became director of the Vector Aeromotive Corporation, and in 1994, he became President & Managing Director of Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A, being responsible for the rebuilding of Lamborghini after Chrysler’s ownership and prior to its sale to Audi AG, as part of the VW Group.

In the mid 1990s, Mike left Lamborghini and worked directly for Tommy Suharto as a board member of Timor Putra Nasional (owners of Lamborghini) until retiring with an undiagnosed tropical fever.

Returning to the automotive industry a few months later, Mike worked in a consultancy role for a number of organisations including Tata Motors Ltd.

In August 2005 Mike was appointed to the Lotus Group International Limited and Group Lotus plc Boards as well as other Boards of Proton. He was appointed acting Chief Executive Officer of Group Lotus plc in May 2006, confirmed as Chief Executive Officer of Group Lotus plc in September 2006.

During his second tenure at Lotus, Mike has been responsible for the creation and execution of a new 5 year strategic business plan, and the new, already award-winning Lotus Evora is the first of the range of new Lotus cars to be designed, developed, manufactured and sold by Britain’s most iconic and innovative sportscar company. Lotus Engineering has expanded to become a world-class consultancy employing over 500 highly qualified engineers in five technical centres around the globe. It is revered for innovation, outstanding driving dynamics, exciting niche vehicles and efficient performance engineering.

Mike (70) is married with 3 children and 3 grand children and lives in Norwich.

[via Lotus PR department]

Lotus to sponsor the Lotus Challenge Series

Lotus Cars USA has become the title sponsor of the Lotus Challenge Series for the 2009 season. Head on over to Lotus Challenge Series website to sign up for one of their 5 remaining dates this year including Laguna Seca (July 16-17), Infineon (Oct 8-9) and Spring Mountain (November 8–9, during WCLM 09)

PRESS RELEASE

Lotus Cars USA, Inc. Announces Title Sponsorship of Growing Lotus Challenge Series

Duluth, GA, June 25, 2009 – Lotus Cars USA, Inc. is pleased to announce that Lotus will be the Title Sponsor of the growing Lotus Challenge Series.

The Lotus Challenge Series was begun in 2008 by long-time Lotus enthusiast Jim Navarro along with critical support from other Lotus aficionados Jack Fried and Robb Bonanno. To help expand the Lotus Challenge Series to the east and continually improve the series, Jim recently took on a fellow racer as a partner in the series – Tom Hughes.

“When the Series 2 Elise came to the United States market for the first time in 2004, I immediately bought one and drove it straight to the track,” said Lotus Challenge Series founder and President Jim Navarro. “I decided it would be great to have a time trial and club race series where like-minded Lotus enthusiasts could enjoy their cars and improve their driving skills together, so Jack, Robb and I worked hard to build up the series last year. I’m proud of what we’ve built thus far in the Lotus Challenge Series and I particularly appreciate that all of our participants understand our series emphasizes safety and intelligence on the race track and they all drive accordingly.”

The inaugural year of the Lotus Challenge Series in 2008 was comprised of eight events with six at various California tracks and two events at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch in Pahrump, Nevada. The first year of the series was a great success with full grids and a lot of fun and camaraderie enjoyed by all the Lotus racing participants.

With a good, solid first full year of learning and experience under their belt, the Lotus Challenge Series has been expanded for the 2009 season to 10 western US events (see included schedule), initially, and is now in the process of expanding further with an additional 4 events being planned for Lotus owners to enjoy in Texas. As the race schedule is expanding for the series, the variety of the venues is as well with upcoming events scheduled at the revered Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey and famous Infineon Raceway in Sonoma.

“The Lotus Challenge Series is a very well run organization that’s expanding through providing Lotus owners a fun, safe and positive environment in which to enjoy their Lotus vehicles and improve their driving skills,” said Lotus Cars USA, Inc. Director of Operations Arnie Johnson. “What Jim Navarro, Tom Hughes, Jack Fried, Robb Bonanno and all of the participants in the Lotus Challenge Series are doing is fostering tremendous enthusiasm and goodwill for our treasured Lotus marque. We’re extremely proud to support the expansion of the Lotus Challenge Series as the title sponsor and show some of our most devoted Lotus owners how much we appreciate them.”

The full array of Lotus’ current North American product offering competes in the Lotus Challenge Series including various Elise and Exige models and the track-only Exige Cup Car 255 and the current ultimate track-only Lotus 2-Eleven.

Lotus Challenge Series 2009 Competition Schedule:

* January 23 – Streets of Willow, Willow Springs
* February 21 – 22 – Streets of Willow, (SCCA School)
* March 28 – 29 – Spring Mountain Motor Sports Ranch
* April 23 – Willow Springs International Raceway
* May 30 – 31 – Buttonwillow Raceway Park
* July 16 – 17 – Laguna Seca Raceway
* August 8 – Streets of Willow, Willow Springs
* September 3 – Buttonwillow Raceway Park
* October 8 – 9 – Infineon Raceway
* November 8 – 9 – Spring Mountain Motor Sports Ranch

As the Lotus Challenge Series continues to grow in participation and expand into other parts of the country, the dates and details for new events in the south and on the east coast for 2010 will be announced in August 2009.

Team Lotus returning to F1

The Norfolk-based Litespeed Formula 3 team has announced plans to enter the 2010 Formula 1 season under the iconic Team Lotus name. The founders of Litespeed, Nino Judge and Steve Kenchington are both former Lotus engineers, and have received permission from Lotus name rights-holder David Hunt to use the evocative title for their F1 bid. Former Team Lotus driver Johnny Herbert has joined the team as driver manager and commercial ambassador.

Design work on the chassis has already been started by Mike Gascoyne who welcomed the news that the project would use the Lotus title. “I am Norfolk born and bred,” said Gascoyne. “For me to continue my F1 career under the banner of the Team Lotus name and help to bring it back to its deserving place in the world championship is a fantastic feeling and something that I am extremely proud to be doing.”

[via Autosport]