Elise News

Hot and Important news from the Lotus world on the Elise!

  • 20th Year Lotus Elise March 19, 2015
  • Lotus Elise-Eco July 9, 2008
  • NHTSA Recalls Elise for Shift Lever Jan 12, 2006
  • Elise Sport Racer Announced Oct 21, 2005
  • AutoWeek Autofile Poll Oct 17, 2005
  • 2006 Elise Order Guide Sept 30, 2005
  • 2006 Elise News! June 26, 2005
  • Elise Wins at SoloII Nationals! June 14, 2005
  • Is Exige Coming to the US? March 23, 2005
  • New MSRP - Part 2 Jan 10, 2005
  • Elise Extended Warranty Jan 6, 2005
  • 20,000th Elise is Built Dec 20, 2004
  • Elise Wins Popular Science Magazine Award Nov 12, 2004
  • Elise Classed by SCCA for SoloII Oct 13, 2004
  • New MSRP Announced Sept 1, 2004
  • Arriving Daily! Aug 6, 2004
  • The First US Elise is Delivered! July 14, 2004
  • Elise Road Tested by US Press
  • Dealers Report July 15th Arrival
  • Elise Club Forms
  • Autocrossing Impressions
  • US Elise Shipping!
  • LA Times Elise article
  • Elise Dealer & Press Launch
  • 1st Production US Elise Land!
  • SCCA Classifies Elise
  • DOT Grants waiver to Lotus for Elise
  • Lotus Announces 111R in UK, Japan & Australia!
  • Elise News from the LA Auto Show!
  • Elise in the News!
  • Elise at SEMA
  • US Elise News in European Car Magazine
  • US Elise News! First Drive!
  • On-Track 111S Drive
  • Lotus Asks for Elise Exemptions
  • Lotus Announces Exige S2

  • Lotus Elise celebrates 20 years

    Date: March 19, 2015

    Celebratory 20th Anniversary Special Edition Elise
    Special edition, based on the Elise S Club Racer, including classic Elise colour schemes

    The Lotus Elise 20th Anniversary Special Edition celebrates the unveiling of the iconic sports car at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 1995.

    20 years ago, the Lotus Elise revolutionised the sports car world, setting the benchmark for handling, purity of the driving experience, lightweight and efficiency. Its pioneering and advanced bonded aluminium chassis was a market-leading technological innovation at the time and over the years has improved and evolved and remains core to the Elise's exceptional performance today.

    Jean-Marc Gales, CEO of Group Lotus plc, welcomes the Elise 20th Anniversary model, "It is sometimes hard to believe that the Elise has been around for 20 years. It was ground breaking when it was launched and continues to be the benchmark for handling and performance in its class. Over the years we have improved and refined the Elise but we have also ensured that we have retained the purity of the driving experience and for the Elise to remain as the sports car to which other marques aspire."

    The Elise 20th Anniversary, with its lightweight aero-optimised, composite body, is powered by a 1.8-litre supercharged engine. It reaches 0-62 mph (0-100 km/h) in 4.6 seconds and has a top speed of 145 mph (237 km/h). The benefit of this light weight is that the Elise 20th Anniversary consumes just 5.9 litres / 100 km (47.6 mpg) extra urban and emits just 173 g of CO2 per km.

    Weighing just 914 kg, 10 kg less than the Elise S, the Elise 20th Anniversary is the sports car that both enthusiasts and newcomers to the brand will desire. Lightweight, efficient and totally pure in its driving experience, its benchmark in handling remains the envy of the sports car scene. Additional equipment compared to the Elise S comes as standard and is designed to reduce weight, including lightweight matt black forged wheels, lightweight centre console in body colour and lightweight sports seats in leather or Alcantara with colour coded stitching. A sport mode is also included which increases throttle response and alters the traction slip thresholds allowing the driver enhanced control before intervention.

    Four classic Elise colours are available in Blue, Green, Yellow and Silver and the rear diffuser, wing mirrors, roll hoop cover and rear transom are in matt black. Elise 20th Anniversary decals inside on the dashboard and seats and outside above the side indicator identify the anniversary special edition.

    All this additional equipment amounts to £5,150 worth of extra value, for only £2,700 more than the standard Elise S (£37,200) and the Elise 20th Anniversary will become a driving investment for the future.

    The Elise is the most successful Lotus model in terms of numbers built, with a total of almost 32,000 built and sold globally. In addition to the Elise, the Lotus small platform technology has been used to great success in the Lotus Exige, Lotus Europa and Lotus 2-Eleven models, all of which are, or have been manufactured by Lotus at its Headquarters in Hethel, Norfolk.

    The Lotus Elise 20th Anniversary is on sale now with an MSRP of £39,900. It replaces the Elise S Club Racer. For other currency prices, please contact the Lotus press office. Orders can be placed now.

    Each 20th Anniversary Lotus Elise Edition will have the following as standard:

  • Body colour, lighter weight interior centre console
  • Leather, or Alcantara (no cost), lighter sports seat trim option
  • Colour-coded stitching on seats and door cards
  • Colour-coded seat hoops
  • Matt Black forged alloy wheels
  • Matt Black distinguishing exterior trim
  • A choice of four exterior colours - Classic Blue / Green / Yellow / Silver
  • Auxiliary driving lights
  • Elise 20th Anniversary decals externally and on dashboard stereo blanking-plate


    Lotus announces Elise - Eco

    Date: July 9, 2008

    Lotus unveils the Eco Elise technology demonstrator at the British Motor Show, capitalising on great strides forward in green technology. The Eco Elise project promotes a different perspective on “green”, one which does not revolve solely around tailpipe CO2.

    This holistic approach is in keeping with the progressive Lotus culture, driving Lotus to become the world’s green automotive consultancy.

    Sustainable materials, hemp, eco wool and sisal have been developed for body panels and trim and, combined with hi-tech water based paint solutions, showcase new affordable green technologies. The green credentials of the technology on show in the Eco Elise have been analysed throughout the lifecycle of the car.

    More in the Lotus Press Release after the photos.

    Lotus Press Release on Lotus Eco Elise


    Elise Shift Lever Recall Notification

    Date: January 12, 2006

    NHTSA Recalls Elise for Shift Lever Failures

    NHTSA Campaign ID: 05V571000
    Component: Power Train: Manual Transmission
    Manufacturer: Group Lotus PLC
    Year: 2005
    Make: Lotus
    Model: Elise
    Recall Date: 12/21/2005
    Potential Number of Units Affected: 1,740

    Effected VINs
    Beginning: SCCPC11155HL30002
    Ending: SCCPC11105HL32482

    Defect Summary:
    On certain passenger vehicles equipped with 6-speed manual transmissions, the gear lever may break.

    Consequence Summary:
    This could result in the inability to change gears, increasing the risk of a crash.

    Corrective Summary:
    Dealers will replace the gear levers. The recall is expected to begin in January or February 2006. Owners may contact Lotus Cars USA at 1-678-417-9073.

    Owners of affected cars should expect to receive a notification from Lotus. You can then contact your dealer and set-up an appointment to have the shift lever replaced.

    Copy of Lotus Technical Bulletin


    2006 Elise Sport Racer

    Date: October 21, 2005


    Lotus Elise Sports Racer – more than just a colour scheme
    Harking back to some key Lotus sports and GT racer colour schemes (used on some versions of the Lotus Elite, Type 23, and Lotus Elan) from the 1950s and 1960s, Lotus introduces the limited edition Lotus Elise Sports Racer.

    Two distinctly different vehicles have been produced. The first, in Ardent Red, features a single painted white stripe flanked by two thinner painted white stripes and has distinctive white wing mirrors. The interior of the car is also unique, with matching red stitching set against black leather trim.

    The second car is Nightfall Blue and has twin painted white stripes running the length of the vehicle. Again, this car features white wing mirrors and has a unique interior, subtly matching the exterior of the vehicle, with blue stitching on the leather

    Both the versions have a coloured (red or blue respectively) Elise logo stitched into the headrests and unique Elise Sports Racer decals positioned on the exterior of the car.

    The Elise Sports Racer will be built in limited numbers with a total production run, across the two colours, of 199 units worldwide with each one given an individually numbered build plate. Under the blue and red colour schemes, the Elise Sports Racers use some of the best sports and track specific components available including ultra-lightweight 7-twin spoke forged alloy wheels (saving a massive 1.2 kg of unsprung weight per corner), Advan Neova AD07 LTS tyres linked to sports suspension (uprated Eibach springs and stiffer Bilstein dampers), twin oil coolers and switchable Lotus Traction Control (LTC).

    The switchable engine-managed Lotus Traction Control System (LTC) is active above 8 km/h (5 mph) and works through the engine, reducing power when required to maintain traction. It operates much quicker than many brake based systems. A Torsen-type limited slip differential (LSD) is available as an option for tight low speed, high acceleration driving (such as auto tests). Standard luxury kit includes a colour matched hardtop, central door locking, electric windows, interior stowage net, sound insulation pack, black soft-top with sound/thermal insulation and black full carpet set.

    LED rear lights are fitted which are brighter and the brake lights illuminate 2 tenths of a second (0.2 seconds) quicker (or one Elise car length at 70km/h / 43 mph) and are 36% lighter (around 0.6 kg) than conventional filament bulbs.

    The Proven and High Performing Engine and Gearbox
    With a VVTL-i engine (Variable Valve Timing and Lift-intelligent) producing a maximum power output of 141 kW (189 hp or 192 PS) and 181 Nm (133 lbft or 18.5 kgm) of torque, the Elise Sports Racer sprints to 100km/h in 5.2 seconds (60 mph in 4.9 seconds) and 160km/h (100 mph) in 13.0 seconds before reaching a certified top speed of 241km/h (150 mph). >>

    This performance is achieved through a balance of environmental considerations with the fully Euro IV Emissions compliant engine helping the Elise to return 8.8 litres/100 km (32.1 mpg) on the combined cycle, as well as the very low figure of 208 g/km of CO2 emissions.

    Sometimes steel is lighter than Aluminium! A new lightweight pedal box
    The Lotus Elise Sports Racer uses a new lighter weight pedal box with forged steel pedal arms and extruded aluminium pads. This new unit, which is lighter that the previous extruded aluminium unit, has an electronic throttle for quicker and smoother engine response, reduced brake pedal ratio and improved pedal feel for the brake and throttle. All three pedals are better positioned for improved “heel and toe” brake and throttle control on downshifts. The cable-less throttle also ensures that emissions are managed more effectively and kept as low as possible under all operating conditions.

    Air-conditioning is available as an option and weighs in at a featherweight 15 kg.

    The Lotus Elise Sports Racer is available from Lotus dealers in November 2005 at a recommended retail price of £31,995 in the UK. Other world market prices will be issued shortly.


    AutoWeek AutoFile Poll

    Date: October 17, 2005

    AutoWeek Needs Elise Owners!
    In the Oct 17th issue of AutoWeek on the very bottom of page 33 it reads...

    Autofile Needs You!
    We seek comments from Lotus Elise owners. AutoWeek wants to know when you bought it, what you paid, your opinions and other vehicles you considered. Include your mailing address, phone number and vehicle identification number (VIN). Mail responses to AutoWeek, 1155 Gratiot Ave., Betroit MI 48207, or email responses to autofile@crain.com


    2006 Elise Order Guide

    Date: September 30, 2005

    Presentation slides with information on ordering a 2006 Elise. (courtesy of elisetalk.com)



    June 26, 2005

    Lotus Informs Dealers of Changes and Options for 2006 Model Year Elise

    Dealer were informed by Lotus Cars USA of changes in the specification for the 2006 Elise.

    The 2006 base Elise will come equipt with LED tailights with integral rear reflector (this deletes the separate reflector on the rear of the 2005 cars). The rear grill is changed (the reflector is gone) and Daytime Driving Lights are standard (required in Canada). All cloth seats will be upgraded with better material and padding. MSRP and Transportation Cost remain at $42,990 and $870.

    The Touring Pack remains unchanged except Blue leather will be replaced by Magnolia leather (cream color).

    Sport Pack wheels will continue to be forged aluminum with improved gloss finish in High Power Silver. Black finish will not be available and suspension/tires remain unchanged. Cost remains at $2,480

    New is a Limited Slip Differential at a cost of $1,790. The LSD is for use in slow speed high RPM/power seetings in lower gears to reduce the tendency to spin the inside rear wheel. The LSD opinion includes Traction Control with a console mounted switch to disable the system.

    Traction Control can be ordered separately from the LSD package at a cost of $495. The Traction Control System modulates power through the Engine Control Module in order to maximize grip, including a console mounted swtich to disable the system.

    In 2006 customers will be able to delete the Air Conditioning system for a savings of $250.

    The base Elise will get two additional wheel options. First the standard Elise cast wheels will be offered with a matte black painted finish for $250. And a standard sized forged aluminum wheels finished in clear lacquer with standard AD07 tires (lower unsprung weight) will be offered for $1,695.

    The Hard Top is unchanged at a cost of $1,450 and Starsheild remains at $995.

    Elise colors will be changed from 2005. The base colors are Ardent Red and a new British Racing Green (non-metallic). Saffron Yellow will be deleted. Metallic colors included unchanged, Starlight Black, Aubergine Purple, Nightfall Blue, and Magnetic Blue. Modified metallic colors are Arctic Silver, Racing Green and Storm Titanium. And new to the metallic colors are Canyon Red and Solor Yellow. Lifestyle colors get new Aspen White, Chilli Red, Autumn Gold and Phantom Black. Both Laser Blue and Graphite get slightly changed and Chrome Orange and Krypton Green remain unchanged. 2006 Elise Color Chart



    June 14, 2005

    Johnson Scores Super Upset in Super Stock At The Tire Rack SCCA Solo Tour in Toledo
    By Curtis Kitchen

    TOLEDO, Ohio (June 14, 2005) – Shock waves reverberated throughout the Solo community this weekend after Michael Johnson, of Glen Allen, Va., stormed to a win in Super Stock at The Tire Rack® SCCA Solo National Tour at Toledo Express Airport – in something other than a Corvette.

    Occasional rain may have played a factor in slowing the Corvettes, but Johnson’s performance in a 2005 Lotus Elise still raised many eyebrows, even opening the door to conversations that a sizable chink had been cut into the Corvette’s Super Stock armor, which had deflected virtually every blow over the past five years.

    In fact, the last time something other than a Corvette won Super Stock at The Tire Rack® SCCA Solo National Championships was 1999, when Erik Strelnieks, of Austin, Texas, won while driving a Mazda RX7.

    Johnson’s times improved nearly every time over his six clean runs, enabling him to handily beat out Eric Heller of Uniontown, Ohio, in the Children’s Hospital/Kumho 2002 Chevrolet Corvette, by 0.538-sec. Matthew Braun, of Northville, Mich., came in third in the PowerPlug 2004 Corvette – 0.039-sec. behind Heller.



    January 10, 2005

    On Friday, January 7, 2005 Lotus dealers were informed that cars going into production as of January 2005 would carry a new MSRP of $42,990. Those cars that that were built before December 31, 2004 would carry the previous MSRP.

    "Please be advised that effective with Elise units allocated to you as January production, the price of all Lotus Elise models will change per the list below. These cars were allocated to you in late November and were referred to as January through April production 2005. Please be aware that there will be some cars that were originally allocated as December 2004 production that will be built in January. These cars will be delivered to you at the existing price, not the new price even though they were built in January. None of the 4th quarter 2004 allocated production has been lost, just delayed a few weeks into January."

    According to the notification the price change of approximately $2,000 reflects the dramatic change in the exchange rate between the US dollar and the British Pound. When the Elise was announced in fall 2003 a British pound was valued at about $1.55. In the course of the past year plus the US Dollar has lost value and was recently at a low of $1.92 for a British Pound, roughly a 24% change in value.

    This is the second adjustment in pricing from Lotus. The first was in September 2004, of $1,000. The combined changes is MSRP is equivalent to roughly 8% of the Elise's price, which indicates that Lotus continues to absorb as much of the change in the exchange rates as possible.


    DULUTH, GA (January 12, 2005)

    Lotus Cars USA, importer and distributor of British made Lotus sports cars, announced a change in the MSRP of its new Elise two-seat roadster today, citing adjustments for exchange rates. Effective for all January production onward, the base MSRP for a 2005 Lotus Elise will be $42,990. Option package costs and delivery charges will remain unchanged.

    "The exchange rate between the US dollar and British pound has not returned to a level that allows us to maintain our current pricing"' said Lotus Cars USA CEO John English. "In light of the continued erosion of the dollar versus the pound sterling and the resulting pressure on our costs, we have no choice at this time but to make an adjustment in the Elise price structure."



    January 6, 2005

    Lotus Cars USA is working with Fidelity Warranty to be the provider of LCU's extended service contracts. Fidelity is backed by the JM&A Group, a large well known and backed company used by many dealers. JM&A Group

    All US lotus dealer have or will have shortly, the ability to sign-up with Fidelity Warranty to offer a service contract. Fidelity is contacting and signing up the dealers (every dealer may not have been approached at this writing). Dealers are not required to offer Fidelity's coverage and may be using other providers.

    Elise buyers can buy Fidelity's service contract at time of sale or anytime while under factory warranty (a surcharge may be required if purchased in the second or third year of the factory warranty).

    Cost will vary by term (1 or 2 years extension) of the contract, coverage level, and deductible selected. Lotus recommends a specific plan, see dealer for details. Dealers can retail the contract for whatever they want except in Florida where the retail price is regulated.

    Additionally, the Fidelity service contract includes roadside assistance.



    December 20, 2004 - Hethel UK

    Production of the Elise reaches landmark figure, making it the most popular Lotus ever.

    Desirability of the multi-award winning Elise is proving to be phenomenal, with Lotus' production facilities working hard to satisfy demand for the most successful model in the marque's history. The 20,000th Lotus Elise is a UK specification 111R in Saffron Yellow, which has already been delivered to the UK Lotus dealer network prior to being passed to the customer.

    The Elise was launched to great critical acclaim in September 1995 and has continued to evolve throughout its life picking up awards with remarkable frequency. The uncompromising Lotus brand philosophy has given the Elise strong attributes: performance through lightweight, fun to drive, great ride and handling, and innovation, all of which have made the Lotus Elise a winning formula.

    The key Lotus philosophy is performance through lightweight. The Lotus Elise weighs roughly half that of a family saloon car* which contributes to the phenomenal driving experience that has been honed over decades of road and racecar development.

    The Elise has been available in many guises since its launch, from the 120 bhp base model to the latest 111R. The 111R with a 189 bhp engine offers serious performance with a 4.9 seconds 0-60 mph time (0-100km/h in 5.2 seconds) and a top speed of 150 mph (241km/h). As with all Lotus cars, the Elise offers precision handling and beautiful balance ensuring that the supercar performance can be exploited to the full.

    Throughout its history, Lotus has produced over 70,000 cars and the Elise production contributes 20,000 to this figure, illustrating the significance of the car to the brand. Annual production at Lotus' manufacturing facility in Norfolk is running at 4,500 units and the Elise is sold in about 40 countries around the world.

    Production Manager, Luke Bennett said, "Looking to the future, many more production landmarks are likely to be exceeded with the continued popularity of the Elise". Manufacturing Director, Clive Dopson said "The hand built Elise has grown from strength to strength with rates of production of the car increasing, coinciding with increases in quality and efficiency. The advances in production are very pleasing and are due to the magnificent culture and modern facilities at Lotus". Adding "credit for the achievements of the Elise has to rest with the engineers and technicians in Lotus Engineering and Manufacturing, their determination and hard work have made the Elise the success it is today".


    November 12, 2004 - Duluth GA

    Less than 12 months after its U.S. introduction the 2005 Lotus Elise has been awarded and recognized by automotive editors at leading consumer media outlets. Popular Science magazine today presented the Elise with its “Best of What’s New” award while Edmunds.com selected the Elise as a finalist in its “Editors’ Most Significant Car of the Year” competition. The Lotus Elise is a two seat, high performance roadster that has already won numerous awards and accolades from foreign media.

    “We are very excited to have received such extraordinary recognition from Popular Science and Edmunds.com, two well-respected organizations” said John English, Lotus Cars USA CEO. “This recognition proves that the Elise does in fact offer the perfect combination of technology, performance, efficiency, fun and exclusivity so many people desire.”

    Priced at $40,930 the 190-horsepower Elise features an extruded aluminum chassis weighing only 150 pounds. This allows a car with a curb weight of 1984 lbs in standard trim. It outperforms cars costing several times as much, reaching 60mph in less than five seconds with a top speed of 150mph.

    “Best of What's New is the ultimate Popular Science accolade, representing a year's worth of work evaluating thousands of products," said Editor Mark Jannot. "These awards honor innovations that not only impact the way we live today, but change the way we think about the future.” The award can be viewed at www.popsci.com

    Karl Brauer, Editor in Chief at Edmunds.com, said, “The new Lotus Elise perfectly captures the original philosophy of Colin Chapman -- who always felt weight was the enemy -- in an advanced 21st century sports car offering amazing performance. For the money, you simply can't buy a more capable or thrilling ride.”


    SCCA Classes Elise
    October 13, 2004

    Per a posting on the SCCA's Forum today:

    Stock: The following new listings, effective immediately upon publication, are added in Appendix A:

  • Mini Cooper S (‘05+) GS
  • Lotus Elise (‘05+) SS
  • Porsche 911 GT3 SS

    Thus the Elise will be in Super Stock (SS) and will compete against the C5 & C6 Corvette, Viper, and Porsche 911 ('98 on). SS has been dominated by the Z06 Corvette. At the 2004 SoloII Nationals there were 46 entries in SS, 44 of which were Z06 Corvettes. The top 14 places went to Z06 drivers.


    New MSRP for Elise
    September 1, 2004


    DULUTH, GA (September 1, 2004) – Lotus Cars USA, importer and distributor of British made Lotus sports cars, announced a change in the MSRP of its new Elise two-seat roadster today, citing adjustments for exchange rates. Effective September 1, 2004, the MSRP for a base 2005 Lotus Elise is $40,930, up $945 (2.3%) from $39,985. Option package costs and delivery charges will remain unchanged.

    “The Elise continues to offer a superior value due to its outstanding performance and limited production volume,” said Lotus Cars USA CEO John English. “We are reluctant to increase prices from the introductory levels, however a challenging exchange rate environment requires Lotus to make an adjustment at this time.” English noted that the price increase is substantially less than the actual devaluation of the U.S. Dollar against the British Pound since the debut of the U.S. market Elise.


    Elises Arriving
    August 6, 2004

    There's been a few hic-cups, but the Elises are arriving into the US distribution centers. By the end of August Lotus expects nearly 250 Elises to be delivered to the dealers. After some initial delays in the production of cars with the Sports Pack those cars are now in production and can be seen in these photos.

    On-line forums continue with threads with waiting customers frustrated at the delays. The most recent is the slow delivery from the distribution centers to the dealers. Lotus had planned to hold cars in the DCs a few days, but due to the slower than expected transport from those locations to the dealers cars are stacking up in the DCs where Lotus has to pay un-budged storage charges. The good news is the Transport firm has been properly chastized and has promised their contracted service level.

    Going through prep Going through prep
    Going through prep Dealer delivery
    Unloading at Criswell Unloading at Criswell

    All above photos are courtesy of


    Lotus Delivers 1st US Elise!
    July 15, 2004

    The first US Elise was delivered by Lotus Cars USA and Lotus of Atlanta to Chris Smith. Chris was first on the wait list with Lotus of Atlanta having placed his deposit with them over 2 years ago. His long waited ended as LOA and John English of LCU handed Chris the keys to his Ardent Red Elise.

    Upon his arrival at his home, Chris said, "What a phenomenal car it is. WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!! I forgot just how quick the Elise is! I think I've got a permanent smile!"

    The crew from Lotus Cars USA and Lotus of Atlanta with Chris

    Chris in this new Elise at Lotus Cars USA

    Chris with John English (LCU) & Eric (LOA)

    Signing the "Papers"

    Leaving Lotus Cars USA

    The 1st US Elise tucked alway in its new home!


    DULUTH, GA (July 19, 2004) -

    The first production Lotus Elise has been delivered to its owner, little more than six months after the car's official U.S. introduction at the 2004 Greater Los Angeles Auto Show. Lotus Cars USA CEO John English presented the keys to Lotus enthusiast and Georgia resident Chris Smith at the company's new, expanded headquarters here on Wednesday. Smith placed a deposit almost three years ago and purchased his car through Lotus of Atlanta, last year's leading Lotus dealership.

    "It's an incredible honor to be the first Elise customer," said Smith. "I'm going to get through the break in period and after that it's all out driving. I think the Elise has really recaptured the spirit of the original Elan and Lotus Seven from the sixties and would make Colin Chapman proud." Chapman started Lotus in 1948 and was known for his Performance through Lightweight philosophy. Smith has been a long time Lotus fan and the owner of several Lotus cars, including a 1974 Europa, a 1991 Elan and two Esprits. "In 1991 I bought my first Esprit, a 1987 Turbo, which until now was the most exciting day in my life."

    Lotus Cars USA CEO John English said, "We couldn't be happier for Chris and for everyone on the Lotus team who have worked so hard to make this day happen." He added, "We're looking forward to delivering more cars in the coming weeks and a very bright future for Lotus in the coming years."

    First year Elise production will be between 2200 and 2400 units and the company has already exceeded that in customer deposits. At current ramp-up Lotus estimates it will have delivered 260 retails nationwide by the end of summer with full production capacity reached by November. Lotus Cars USA director of sales and marketing Mark O'Shaughnessy forecasts existing order banks will be filled by the end of the first quarter 2005. Lotus currently has 39 dealers in 29 major markets.

    Handing the keys over


    US Press Says The Elise Is...

    The July and August 2004 issues of the major US car magazines covered the Elise words like...

    Road & Track
    Spend a day of hard driving behind the wheel of an Elise and it ALL BUT RUINS YOU for nearly every other sports car on earth.

    Car and Driver
    The Elise is a pure sports car for the sports-car purists. And that's what makes it our champ.

    The Elise is, indeed, the best-handling, most dedicated, least-apologetic production sports car we've ever tested.

    Driven hard, the Elise is as accommodating as any car we've encountered. It is not just extraordinary balance and fluid transitions. It is the confidence it inspires.

      Road & Track Car and Driver Motor Trend
    Options Sports Pack Sports Pack Touring Pack
    0-60 4.7 sec 4.4 sec 5.1
    Braking 60-0 105ft 160ft (70-0) 114ft
    Slalom 71.1 mph 72.9 mph 73.2 mph
    Lateral G's 0.98g 1.06g 0.99g


    Lotus Notifies Dealers on Delivery

    July 7, 2004

    To: All Lotus Dealers
    From: John A. English
    Ref: Start of Elise Shipments

    I am pleased to announce that Lotus Cars USA will begin to ship the 2005 Elise to you beginning late in the week of July 12, 2004. Thus we begin to satisfy the enthusiasts who have created such a positive feeling of enthusiasm for Lotus' latest product.

    The ramp up in production is now well underway and by the end of July 2004, Lotus Cars will have produced nearly 250 US specification Elises. Lotus Cars USA is also in the process of installing a new computer system that will support our business and provide more information to you. We thank you and your customers for being patient as we work through these start up issues. From here on, we will be providing more information to you so that you will know what is happening with your car orders. Following is what to expect in the next couple of months:

  • We will start to ship cars to dealers the week of July 12. All dealers should have their first car by the end of July. Due to some issues with components that we previously mentioned, some dealers may get a customer car before their demo, but your demo should be close behind. The cars that arrive over the next few weeks will be slightly out of order due to some of these component issues. August will see a significant increase in cars to you as we deliver those 250 cars that will be built through July 31.
  • We are getting a better flow of information from the factory and as a result, your Regional Sales Manager will be forwarding reports to you on vehicle status about once per week. Expect these to start in mid July. This will give you the tools to answer that often asked question, "When will my car be here?" Your Regional Sales Manager will be in close contact during this time.
  • The allocation volume that we announced in February of this year will be met, but with about a one month delay. This means that our original plan to have that allocation cover production from April - August now means that this volume will be produced from May - September and those vehicles will arrive at your dealerships by late October.
  • We will be calculating the next allocation in the coming weeks. By the end of July, you should know about how many cars will be produced for your dealership from October through the end of December 2004. This time we will give you a tentative production month so that you can work with your customers to anticipate when their cars will arrive.
  • Information on vehicles will improve throughout the remainder of the years as the pipeline becomes full and shipments become more consistent. We anticipate that by late October production will be at full normal production. Late in the 3rd quarter 2004, Lotus will launch dealer interfaces for our new computer system. This will allow you to go on the web to order, manage and retail your vehicle inventory.

    There will be more news on various programs soon, but the best news is that the Elise will be in your showrooms in July. Thanks again for your support and understanding during the transition. I sincerely hope that your patience will be rewarded!

    John A. English
    President and CEO
    Lotus Cars USA


    Welcome to Club111!

    We are proud to announce the formation of Club111, the premier U.S. organization for fans of the Lotus Elise. A new car, a new club.

    Club111 is an extension of EliseTalk.com, representing the largest Elise web community here in the states. Modeled on the success of our sister organization in the UK, SELOC, and patterned after the well managed Golden Gate Lotus Club, Club111 will be the means for this already vibrant community to come together in person. In conjunction with other Lotus clubs across the globe, and with the support of the Elise aftermarket, our aim is to strengthen the Lotus community as a whole. At track days and autocross events, concours and back road drives, charitable and social events, Club111 is the place for Elise enthusiasts to gather and share their passion for the greatest sportscar of our time.

    With a membership in Club111 you will receive - Electronic or printed newsletters, on-line and printed technical tips, the latest news on the Elise, an Elise buddy-finder, vendor discounts, access to Elise track days, driving schools, and autocrosses, and more.

    Club111 welcomes your involvement as part of something new. As an active group of Elise owners and enthusiasts, we can make a difference.

    Club111 is being set up as a not-for-profit corporation that exists solely as a resource and benefit to it's members. Club111 is not affiliated with Lotus or Lotuscars USA.

    For more information go to www.elisetalk.com


    US Elise Autocrossed at WCLM

    A pre-production Elise was autocrossed by SCCA Solo II National Champion, Randy Chase at the West Coast Lotus Meet on May 22, 2004. Below is Randy's impressions of that drive. Photos of the event can be found elsewhere on the GGLC website

    I have spent the last 15 years autocrossing midengined MR2s, the last few years in Spyders and my shifter kart. I think this gives me a good basis of comparison. How does the Elise stack up against them?

    The Elise has phenominal turn in. Just flick the wrist and it goes. This is much more nimble than the MR2s were, much closer to what my shifter kart can do. Heading into offset gates, I was able to maintain speed and just flick the steering wheel and the response was immediate. Snick. Almost aim for the cones. Flick. Snick.

    Acceleration was brisk. Like my experience autocrossing an S2000, below the power band, it feels like it could be faster, but it was still accelerating quite well. The red shift light took some getting used to (red lights coming on, on the dash, are normally a bad thing). It also took some getting used to, to keep the car in the upper power band, I need to get better at that. I fought the urge to shift at 6500rpms. You knew when the cam change over happened... you could feel the extra power come on instantly. Not abrupt, I don't think it's something that will upset the car on the track. Just all of a sudden, there is more power there, like the car got it's second wind. It's brief though... you will be shifting or braking for the next corner shortly.

    Slaloms were amazing. As I have mentioned elsewhere, I attacked the slaloms. My slalom technique is always a bit brutal, the hell with smoothness (works for me!). Stab or lift, stay ahead of the cones, mash the throttle...all the while without upsetting the car...get it to rotate around each cone and maximize speed. To my surprise, I was going through the slaloms at the same speed I would in my MR2, which is quite well prepped and on racing Hoosier tires. What? On street tires? Wow.

    The turn arounds were a test of the car's balance. You could create an understeer condition by overdriving the corner, but it was also very easy to correct by opening up the slip angle of the front tires and adjusting throttle. If you managed your corner entry speed and applied throttle to the apex, you could do so wth minimal understeer. On the 180 degrees turns, I modulated the throttle because of understeer, but inside rear wheel spin never showed (which may be a factor of the asphalt and street tires).

    Oversteer was easy to induce also with a lift or in some cases, power on. In other words, the balance for this non-Sport Suspension car was pretty neutral.

    One thing that surprised me (this is on the video I took) was when I screwed up a corner and started to lose it, the correction was interesting because the car grabbed and regained traction almost too quick. It surprised me. I had to quickly react to get the car pointed straight again.

    ABS was not obvious. I never noticed it. On this course, the finish was a tight wiggle and then too short (like 30 feet) of stopping room. I felt like the car was threshold braking as I could feel the tires chirping and doing very small amounts of lock up under very hard braking.

    In general, this car was a lot more than I expected since it was not a sport suspension car and it was on street tires. After a few runs, I was able to do 41 second runs consistently, which I think was quick compared to the race tire shod Europa and the Sport 190. I think also, the car was easy to drive, very intuitive. A very good driver can get more out of it, but I think a newer driver will be instantly rewarded also.

    This car really works. The big question left in my mind, is how much better would a sport suspension car with sticky tires be?


    US Elise are coming!

    Reports are that Fed Elises (type 121) have been loaded into containers and are heading to the US! Expected arrival in dealers for the first customer cars is late June. This first shipment includes dealer demos and early customer cars.


    Los Angeles Times Reviews the Elise

    April 14, 2004 - Los Angeles Times reviews the Elise.

    "In the Elise, the physics of performance driving — weight transfer, coefficients of friction under the tires, roll centers and moments, the stuff of endless chalk talk at driving schools — are all so vivid and obvious. This is how a car is supposed to work."

    LCU Launch US Elise to Press & Dealers

    The US Lotus dealers and major Press were officially introduced to the Elise at the Barber Motorsport Park just outside Birmingham Alabama this week (March 29, 2004).

    The dealers were treated comprehensive presentations that described options, aftermarket parts and accessories, roadside assistance programs and and more. The best part was driving one of the 12 Elise on had either on track or on an autocross course.

    Lotus brought out their best, Roger and Matt Becker, Alistair McQueen and ex-LotusSport driver and SCCA World Challenge Champion, Doc Bundy.

    One dealer returning from the introduction simply said, "WOW!"

    He then explained, "The balance, brakes, power delivery and steering provide excellent feedback on what the car is doing and allow for adjustments that would be risky in many other cars. It responds immediately to input.... you'll be laughing with how easy it is to control."

    Zack Zarcadoolas, Rapier Racing and Instructor with the Porsche Driving Experience (PDE) was one of the professional drivers who drove the Elise Launch at Barber. Here's Zack's words...
    "I could, but won't, repeat all sorts of positive things you have heard before. What I will tell you that amazed Doc (Bundy) and myself was the car is 5 seconds a lap faster around Barber Motorsports Track than the Porsche 911 we use in PDE. I think that says it all."

    George Barber Drives the Elise
    Another neat story was that George Barber (the owner) showed up at the event to do a quick meet & greet. He's known to do this with most every major group that uses the facilities. As is common he is invited to try out the cars. As a known and competent race driver the companies are always interested in getting his feedback. Typically, he goes out in the car, does a couple of courtesy laps and returns, thanking the manufacturer for the opportunity.

    Well, the same happened last week. He was invited to take an Elise out for a run. He was expected to turn his usual couple of laps, step out, "Thank you LCU" and go about his handshaking duties.

    Instead he blew by the pits after the 2nd lap, and then again the 3rd, and after the 4th, and on, and on, and on...

    After over 20 laps (over 40 minutes) he pulled into the pits and sat in the car, refusing to get out and babbled about how incredible the Elise was. After a number of minutes he climbed out, still running on about the how fantastic the Elise is.

    I guess we'll see an Elise at Barber Motorsports soon...


    US Elise Press Cars Land!

    The first US Elise cars rolled into Lotus Cars USA. Right on schedule!

    At LCU there is a buzz of activity, as everyone is focused upon preparing the cars and every conceivable detail to make the press and dealer launch event a huge success.

    The Press and Dealers have been invited to the Barber Motorsports Park the week of March 29th. There the press and dealers will have the opportunity to get the Elise "Experience" first hand. The festivities will include drives with Lotus test and development engineers and ex-LotusSport driver and SCCA World Challenge Champion, Doc Bundy.

    Following the press and dealer launch LCU will begin training classes for the Service Technicians. Dealers must send at Technician to the class to be trained on the new model.

    The GGLC was invited to visit LCU days before the cars were loaded up for their week of introduction work.

    Here are few select photos of the first production US Elise car on US soil.

    Saffron Yellow and Chrome Orange


    Krypton Green


    Aubergine Elise


    Chrome Orange Up Close


    Krypton Green Up-close


    Aubergine Elise Up-close



    SCCA Classifiies Elise in T1
    In the February issue of Sports Car "The Official Publication of the Sports Car Club of America". In the section "Fastrack News" on Page F-27, it has the new car classifications. They are putting the 2005 Lotus Elise in T1. What's interesting is the other cars included in the list. 2003-04 Porsche GT3, 2004 Corvette Z06, 2004 Maserati Coupe, and the last but certainly not least the 2003-04 Dodge Viper SRT-10.

    It looks like SCCA is up to it's old tricks making Lotus into a giant killer. Of course when the little Elise blows the doors off the Vette and the Viper, they'll add a couple hundred pounds of lead and call it a fair fight. Here we go again.


    DOT Grants Lotus Waivers for US Elise

    From the DOT Waiver...
    This notice grants the Group Lotus Plc. (Lotus) application of for a temporary exemption from Paragraph S7 of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 108, Lamps, reflective devices, and associated equipment; and Part 581 Bumper Standard. In accordance with 49 CFR Part 555, the basis for the grant is that compliance would cause substantial economic hardship to a manufacturer that has tried in good faith to comply with the standard. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published a notice of receipt of the application on October 24, 2003, and afforded an opportunity for comment.


    111r Cornering
    111r Toyota Engine
    111r 6 speed
    111r rear Lotus Announces Elise 111R

    Hethel, England: February 2004

    The Lotus Elise 111R is the latest addition to the Lotus stable and introduces to the market the most powerful and highest performing production Elise.

    With a VVTL-i engine (Variable Valve Timing and Lift-Intelligent) producing a maximum power output of 192 PS (189hp, 141kW) and 181Nm (133.5 lbs.ft) of torque, the Elise 111R sprints to 100km/h in 5.2 seconds (0-60mph in 4.9 seconds) and 160km/h (100mph) in 13.0 seconds before reaching a certified top speed of 241km/h (150mph).

    This performance is achieved through a balance of environmental considerations with the fully Euro IV Emissions Compliant engine helping the Elise to return 8.8 litres/100km (32.1mpg) on the combined cycle, as well as the very low figure of 208g/km of CO2 emissions.

    For the first time, track tuned, high specification ABS with servo assisted brakes is offered as standard on the Elise 111R.

    Through careful management of weight and clever design the Elise 111R weighs in at 860kg (1892lbs) - unladen with no options - giving a power to weight ratio of 223PS/tonne (220hp/tonne, 164kW/tonne).

    The Lotus Elise 111R goes on sale in February 2004.

    The Lotus Elise is a true sportscar that has taken the world by storm, winning countless awards for handling, innovation and just pure fun. The Elise was first unveiled at the Frankfurt Motorshow in 1995 before entering production with first deliveries in August 1996. Since then, over 17,000 Elises have been built – some achievement for a car that was originally designed to be built in volumes of only 700 a year! The Elise was designed as a sportscar to be appreciated by real driving enthusiasts, fashion leaders and those who really appreciate technology and innovation.

    The Lotus Elise introduced a range of technologies that revolutionised the automotive industry; such as a chassis made from extruded and bonded aluminium, a composite energy absorbing front crash structure and light weight composite body panels. The whole car weighed in at half the weight of an average family saloon. This light weight bestowed the car with phenomenal acceleration and handling. In 1996 the Lotus Elise was easily pulling 1g in steady state cornering with standard production tyres and a 0-100km/h (0-62mph) in 5.9 seconds.

    In 2000 Lotus introduced the second generation Elise. This evolutionary car, arguably one of the most important cars in Lotus’ fifty-two year history, added to the technology introduced on the Elise in 1996. It was a big stride forward, achieving the quality standards expected of a world leading sportscar manufacturer and globally respected engineering consultancy. This Elise introduced industry standard quality, much of it based upon the learning gained from working with Lotus’ global motor industry partners.

    All Lotus Elises are hand assembled by skilled craftsmen at Lotus' headquarters in Hethel, England. Each Elise takes about 100 man-hours to build and the final product is fine testament to the skills of Lotus.

    The Interior
    As soon as a driver sits behind the wheel of a Lotus, they instantly know that they are in something special. From the composite sports seats that hug the driver under the g-forces that are experienced on cornering, acceleration and braking, to the race designed steering wheel and the extruded aluminium pedals perfectly suited to both cruising as well as hard driving - the Elise is a car that invites to be driven.

    The twin instrumentation dials show road speed and engine speed (for the 111R, now showing to 10,000rpm) and are updated for 2004 across the whole of the Elise range, with clearer graphics and orange back lighting which is proven to be easier on the eye. Links between the Elise and the track have always been strong, and the ambience of the facia and trim with the chassis tub sides provoke a strong sense of being seated in a racing derived but comfortable cockpit.

    A four speaker Blaupunkt stereo system with CD player is provided as standard along with a radio receiver wiring loom including dipole aerial kit located in the front of the Elise 111R.

    The legendary chassis…
    During the early days of the original Elise development programme, Lotus searched for an appropriate and available chassis technology for its new lightweight sportscar. Unable to find a suitable technology, and unwilling to compromise, Lotus set out to change the rules. Lotus engineers looked outside the automotive industry and brought together aluminium extrusions and modern aerospace bonding techniques to produce a lightweight and exceptionally rigid structure.

    The ground-breaking epoxy-bonded aluminium tub chassis, unveiled in September 1995 represented a breakthrough in sportscar technology.

    The structure is an assembly of individually extruded lengths bonded together by epoxy resin adhesive, a world first in automobile manufacture. The adhesive used to bond the Lotus chassis achieves exceptional strength with the ability to absorb the most extreme loads, pressures and forces that it may encounter. Never before had a modern vehicle’s chassis been bonded together.

    The bonding of lap joints provides a superior joint to traditionally welded butted joints (with bonded joints, there is no distortion of the material’s integrity at the join). Self-pierce rivets further increase the structural integrity through reducing material ‘peel’ in the most severe of impacts.

    The chassis received modifications in 2000, including lower, reinforced longitudinal sills to improve the access into the cockpit.

    Now with the introduction of the VVTL-i power unit, further enhancements have been made to the rear of the chassis structure. Utilising experience gained from the development of advanced lightweight steel, a new highly efficient rear subframe offers increased strength. In keeping with Lotus’ philosophy, this structure is an elegant integrated single solution for the engine cradle and improved suspension and exhaust silencer mounting points.

    Ride and handling that sets the benchmark…
    The aluminium chassis allows vehicle dynamics engineers at Lotus to continue to set standards by which all other sportscars are judged. Indeed, the Elise continues to build on the multi-award winning ride and handling for which it has become renowned the world over.

    Lotus has taken a no-compromise approach in carrying over these philosophies to the Elise 111R. The development team has succeeded in creating a car that leaves the driver craving more time in the cockpit and more road on which to enjoy the thrill and engagement of each journey.

    Run in parallel to Lotus’ USA (Federal) Elise programme, the 111R faced a gruelling development programme exceeding 500,000 miles throughout 2003 that took the car across Europe and the USA. This has resulted in an exciting and progressive ride and handling package that integrates the constituents that make up the dynamics characteristics, tuning them to work in harmony with each other, the driver and the road.

    For the Elise 111R, the Eibach coaxial coil springs and Bilstein high pressure monotube gas dampers have been retuned and optimised to maintain the Elise’s trademark agility, body control and poise while improving the isolation of both smaller and larger impacts.

    The unique Bridgestone Potenza RE040 tyres (175/55R16 front and 225/45R17 rear) have been carried over from the Lotus Elise and the Elise 111S. The Lotus Ride and Handling team have maximised the ability to hone the chassis and tyre characteristics to ensure that this latest and highest performing version of the Elise holds true to Lotus’ values of peerless ride and handling and pure driving fun.

    An ABS system like no other…
    The servo-assisted four-channel system individually monitors and distributes braking force to each wheel as required, enhancing braking performance and minimising stopping distance.

    However, Lotus has specifically tuned the initiation point to allow a skilled driver to maximise the potential of the braking system through the utilisation of forward weight transfer. In the event of the driver demanding more braking performance than is possible, only then does the system intervene to optimise the force generated at the wheel.

    Power-to-weight in abundance…
    Lotus undertook a thorough and exhaustive evaluation of a wide range of state-of-the-art engines. Toyota’s 2ZZ-GE 1.8 litre 4 cylinder 16-valve VVTL-i engine and C64 six-speed gearbox was chosen as an outstanding package, excellently suited to the Elise.

    This engine has breath taking power and torque characteristics, and critically for a Lotus, is lightweight, featuring a compact metal matrix composite alloy cylinder block.

    A bespoke exhaust system has been developed for the Elise 111R with the twin exhaust pipes exiting through the rear diffuser.

    Lotus subjected the 2ZZ-GE to a rigorous testing and development programme covering a wide range of extreme climate conditions from the Arctic Circle to the Arizona and Nevada deserts, and at altitude in Colorado. Furthermore, the engine management system, bifurcated exhaust downpipe, and bespoke gearshift mechanism are designed and developed by Lotus, resulting in a power unit perfectly integrated with the Elise’s chassis and dynamics.

    Lotus has tuned the engine to suit the very essence of the Elise by employing a brand new, custom-engineered Lotus T4 engine management system (EMS). The software for the EMS was designed and developed by Lotus specifically for the Elise 111R. All calibration and validation work was undertaken solely by Lotus engineers, ensuring that the Elise performs as a true Lotus should.

    Toyota’s world-renowned VVTL-i system allows the engine management system the flexibility to select the optimum camshaft profile, lift and timing across the full range of engine operating conditions. This interaction between the Lotus T4 EMS and the VVTL-i system gives the Elise its optimum linear torque characteristics, peaking at 181Nm (133.5 lb.ft) @ 6800rpm coupled with the peak power of 192 PS (189hp, 141kW) at 7800rpm.

    The all-aluminium lightweight Toyota C64 six-speed gearbox is fitted with an all-new Lotus designed and developed shift operating mechanism. With the closest ratios and gearset afforded by the transmission, the gearbox offers a fast, precise and light gearshift, ensuring drivers have total control and flexibility to apply the power exactly as and when required.

    True to Colin Chapman’s philosophy of performance through lightweight, the power density available from the Toyota power unit gives the Elise a staggering 223PS/tonne (220hp/tonne, 164kW/tonne) and a 0-100km/h sprint in 5.2 seconds (0-60mph in 4.9 seconds)!

    Proof, if needed, that there actually is a substitute for "cubic inches"!

    Standard equipment for the Elise 111R includes: half leather interior, sun visors, central door locking, Blaupunkt Lausanne radio CD-R/W player and Blaupunkt high performance front and rear speakers.

    Optional equipment includes a Touring Pack, which provides a combination of options designed to increase comfort and convenience, while still maintaining the essence of a Lotus sports car. This pack includes: Auxiliary front driving lights, a choice of either full leather or Alcantara trim, a soft-top with sound and thermal insulation, electric windows, an upgraded Blaupunkt Woodstock DAB radio, CD-R/W and MP3 player, interior stowage net, sound insulation, and full carpet with a lightweight aluminium passenger footrest.

    Other options also include metallic paint, air-conditioning and a body coloured hard top.


    PR Department, Group Lotus PLC
    Hethel, Norfolk, UK, NR14 8EZ
    Tel.: +44-(0)1953-608264


    Elise 111R UK Specifications

    Specifications (UK)Engine Mid-mounted, transverse, 1796cm3, 2ZZ-GE engine, Metal Matrix Composite (MMC) & aluminium lightweight and compact construction, 4 cylinders in line, water cooled, naturally aspirated with double overhead camshafts exploiting a Variable Valve Timing & Lift with intelligence (VVTL-i) system, hydraulic tappets, 4 valves per cylinder, multi-point sequential fuel injection and electronic ignition.
    Engine management Lotus engine control unit
    Max Power 141kW (189hp, 192PS) @ 7800min-1
    Max Torque 181Nm (133lbft, 18.5kgm) @ 6800min-1
    Power to weight ratio 164kW/t (220hp/t, 223PS/t)
    Specific power output 78.5kW/L (105hp/litre, 107PS/litre)
    Emissions control Three-way catalytic converter. Euro IV emissions compliant with full On-Board Diagnostics (OBD)
    Transmission C64 Gearbox, aluminium lightweight construction, 6-speed, close ratio, constant mesh helical gears and open differential.
    Suspension Fully independent suspension utilising unequal length wishbones, Bilstein mono-tube gas damper, Eibach coaxial coil spring at each corner and front anti-roll bar.
    Chassis Lotus designed lightweight structure of epoxy bonded aluminium alloy extrusions with integral steel seat-belt support structure and lightweight steel rear subframe.
    Steering Solidly mounted mechanical rack and pinion steering box with 2.8 turns lock-to-lock.
    Brakes Servo-assisted, track tuned 4-channel Antilock Braking System (ABS) with Lotus/AP-Racing twin-piston fixed aluminium alloy front brake calipers, Brembo single-piston sliding rear calipers and 282mm diameter, 26mm thick front and rear cast-iron ventilated & cross-drilled discs.
    Gear ratios First 3.116:1
    Second 2.050:1
    Third 1.481:1
    Fourth 1.166:1
    Fifth 0.916:1
    Sixth 0.815:1
    Reverse 3.250:1
    Final drive 4.529:1
    Performance Figures 0-60mile/h: 4.9s
    0-100km/h: 5.2s
    0-100mile/h (160km/h): 13.0s
    Maximum speed: 241km/h (150mile/h)
    Fuel consumption – urban: 12.1litre/100km (23.3mile/gal(UK))
    Fuel consumption – extraurban: 6.8litre/100km (41.5mile/gal(UK))
    Fuel consumption – combined: 8.8litre/100km (32.1mile/gal(UK))
    C02 emissions: 208g/km (UK VED band D)
    Dimensions Wheelbase: 2300mm
    Track – front: 1457mm
    Track – rear: 1507mm
    Overall length: 3785mm
    Overall width (door mirrors excluded): 1719mm
    Overall width (door mirrors included): 1850mm
    Overall height - midladen (as per unladen with 2x75kg occupants) 1117mm
    Overhang - front: 783mm
    Overhang - rear: 702mm
    Ground cleareance - midladen (as per unladen with 2x75kg occupants) 130mm
    Vehicle mass - unladen (running order, full tank of fuel, no occupants, no luggage) 860kg (no options) - 916kg (all options)
    Weight distribution: 38% Front - 62% Rear
    Fuel tank capacity: 40litre (8.8gal(UK)
    Luggage capacity: 112litre / 50kg
    Vehicle Specification Air conditioning: Option
    Cross-drilled brake discs: Standard
    ABS with servo assisted brakes: Standard
    Silver 8-spoke lightweight alloy wheels - 5.5x16" Fr & 7.5x17" Rr Standard
    Bridgestone Potenza RE040 – 175/55R16 Front & 225/45R17 Rear Standard
    Tyre puncture repair aerosol: Standard
    Tool kit Standard
    Exterior Specification Auxiliary front driving lights: Option (Touring pack)
    Solid paint: Ardent Red / Old English White / Saffron Yellow
    Metallic paint: Starlight Black / Glacier Blue / Magnetic Blue / Nightfall Blue / Racing Green / Aubergine Purple / Bordeaux Red / Arctic Silver / Storm Titanium
    Body colour door mirror covers: Standard
    Black soft-top: Standard
    Body colour hard-top: Option
    Silver 3-piece rear diffuser: Standard
    Sill stone-chip protection film: Standard (Clear / Black)
    Front mud-flaps: Standard
    Interior Specification Black carpet mats: Standard
    Lightweight aluminium passenger foot-rest: Standard
    Black carpet set with lightweight aluminium passenger foot-rest: Option (Touring pack)
    Colour carpet set with lightweight aluminium passenger foot-rest: No cost option with Touring pack (Red / Blue / Stone)
    Half-leather interior: Standard
    Half-leather seats with inflatable lumbar support: Black
    Cloth door panels: Black
    Plain leather door inserts: Black
    Leather interior: Option (Touring pack)
    Plain/perforated leather seats with inflatable lumbar support: Black
    Plain leather door panels: Black
    Perforated leather door inserts: Black
    Colour leather interior: No cost option with Touring pack (Red / Blue / Stone / Tan)
    Alcantara interior: Option (Touring pack)
    Alcantara/carbon-effect seats with inflatable lumbar support: Black
    Alcantara door panels: Black
    Carbon-effect door inserts: Black
    Alcantara steering wheel centre: Black
    Colour alcantara interior: No cost option with Touring pack (Red, Blue)
    Central door locking: Standard
    Electric windows: Option (Touring pack)
    Black plain leather sun-visors: Standard
    Interior stowage net: Option (Touring pack)
    Entertainment & Security - Standard Audio kit: Standard
    Blaupunkt TSx 402 high performance coaxial front speakers (pair) Within pack
    Blaupunkt GTx 542 high performance 2-way coaxial rear speakers (pair) Within pack
    Radio receiver wiring loom including dipole aerial kit within pack
    Blaupunkt Lausanne - Radio, CD-R/W player: Standard
    Blaupunkt Woodstock - DAB radio, CD-R/W & MP3 player, MMC/SD card reader: Option (Touring pack)
    Immobiliser (Thatcham approved): Standard
    Remote activated alarm (Thatcham approved): Standard
    Tracker (stolen vehicle recovery system): Option
    Entertainment & Security - Touring Touring pack: Option
    Sound insulation within pack
    Auxiliary front driving lights within pack
    Black soft-top with sound/thermal insulation within pack
    Colour soft-top with sound/thermal insulation within pack
    Full black carpet with lightweight aluminium passenger foot-rest within pack
    Full colour carpet with lightweight aluminium passenger foot-rest within pack
    Black leather interior within pack
    Colour leather interior within pack
    Black alcantara interior within pack
    Colour alcantara interior within pack
    Electric windows within pack
    Interior stowage net within pack
    Blaupunkt Woodstock - DAB radio, CD-R/W player, MP3 ICE unit within pack


    Lotus Launches Fed Elise at LA Auto Show

    The Lotus Cars USA press conference is scheduled for 10:40am Monday, December 30th at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The GGLC will have at least 2 members on hand to report the announcement on the Federal Elise.

    The Lotus booth at the LA Auto Show is a brand new layout and will feature 5 US Elise - Artic Silver, Saffron Yellow, Racing Green, Magnetic Blue, and Ardent Red. In addition there will be a bare Elise chassis and an Esprit.

    Lotus Booth at the LA Auto Show - December 29, 2003 - Press Day
    click on photos for larger view
    Lotus Booth
    View of the Lotus Booth at the LA Auto Show - Yellow car has the Sports package
    Lotus Booth
    Elise Chassis
    Lotus Booth
    Racing Green Elise with Arnie Johnson
    Lotus Booth
    Artic Silver Elise
    Lotus Booth
    Elise models showing the Elise colors w/ Tony Shute & son Robin. Note "Lifestyle" colors - Chrome Orange, Graphite Grey and Krypton Green
    Lotus Booth
    Booth view - note hardtop on Ardent Red with Lotus Sport Suspension package wheels, base Magnetic Blue Elise in foreground.

    Preliminary Press Conference Information - Dec. 30, 2003
    Lotus introduced the Elise to the US market with an introduction by Mark O'Shuaghnessy, Director of Sales & Marketing - Lotus Cars USA, followed by Roger Becker of Lotus Cars UK. In attendance from Hethel were Tony Shute and Nick Adams. In the Lotus booth were 5 - Elise; 2 with the Sport option (yellow & red cars), 2 with the optional hardtop and one with dealer installed driving lamps. Lotus announced that it would make 3 "Lifestyle" colors available - Chrome Orange, Graphite Grey and Krypton Green.
    Pricing was announced. The loss in value of the US dollar has made it difficult for Lotus to hold the pricing under $40,000.

    Base car: $39,985

  • 175/55R16, 225/45R17 Yokohama Advan Neova AD07 LTS tires (designed specifically for the Elise)
  • Bilstein monotube gas shock absorbers
  • AP Racing twin-piston aluminum front brake calipers
  • Brembo single-piston rear brake calipers
  • ABS

    Touring package: $1,350

  • full leather seating
  • electric windows and full carpets
  • upgraded Blaupunkt stereo w/MP3 player
  • interior stowage net and additional sound deadening
  • double insulated (thermal & sound) soft top

    Hardtop: $1,475 (body color)

    Sport package: $2,490

  • 7 spoke forged wheels (lightest available - 1 inch wider fronts)
  • Yokohama A048LTS tires. The softer Yokohama tires should improve 0-60 times by 0.2 seconds.
  • Adjustable dampers and springs with adjustable ride height

    3-yr/36,000 mile warranty

    Lotus-tuned Toyota 2ZZ-GE 1.8L 4cyl 16-valve w/VVTL-i with all-aluminum Toyota C64 six-speed manual gearbox. 190 hp @ 7800 rpm (> 100 hp/liter); 138 lb ft @ 6800 rpm


  • 0-60 mph in 4.9 sec
  • Top speed approximately 150 mph
  • estimate fuel mileage: 30 mpg


  • 1,975 lbs, including standard A/C, ABS, power windows, & dual airbags (Touring)

    Lotus Press Conference at the LA Auto Show - December 30, 2003
    click on photos for larger view
    Lotus Booth
    Very busy Lotus Booth after the Press Conference - Note: Find Gordonie!
    Lotus Booth
    Elise Center Stage!

    More Lotus LA Auto Show Coverage
    Since the LA Auto Show opened on Friday Jan 2nd the coverage has been non-stop. The GGLC is providing links to a few of more interesting sites (rather than repeat what you'd find on the web).

  • Sands Museum Elise coverage
  • Elise Talk Forum
  • PureSportsCar.com
  • PistonHeads.com Elise coverage
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    US Elise making the NEWS!

    After the article in the November issue of Road & Track, there's been a number of articles on the US Elise. Articles have shown up in Car & Driver, Automobile and Motor Trend magazines.

    Test drive articles of the new US car have been glowing!

    Pistonheads drives the Elise


    Elise at SEMA!

    A true sign of how popular a car will be is to see how the aftermarket is preparing for it. The Elise arrival in the States is anticipated with no less than 2 111S cars shown at SEMA this past week.

    Elise at SEMA
    Most found in booths featuring wheels, the cars were surrounded by the curious, some who didn't know the car was coming to the states. Next big show is LA!


    Elise Article In Jan 2004 European Car magazine

    European Car - January 2004
    by Alistair Weaver
    photos by Barry Hayden

    It would be inaccurate to describe life at Lotus as being a rollercoaster ride. The Lotus business cycle doesn’t leave room for gradients; everything is just a peak or a trough. Last time I visited the HQ at Hethel in Norfolk, I was banned from talking to the production staff because 15% of them were about to lose their jobs. Today, scarcely 6 months later, the place is buzzing again as Lotus prepares to introduce the Elise into the U.S. market.

    The importance of the Federal Elise project, codename “Croft,” shouldn’t be underestimated. The Esprit will be dead by the end of the year, so the new model is crucial to Lotus maintaining a U.S. presence and its 38 dealers. The volume implications are also crucial to its long-term survival.

    At present, Lotus builds around 2,200 of its own cars each year of which 1,300 are sold in the UK. The company is confident of selling 2,200 Federal Elises in the first year, which would double annual production. Solid sales of its homegrown products should also help diminish the company’s reliance on consultancy work, which is notoriously reactive to the prevailing economic conditions. Everyone at Hethel is aware that the company must remain viable – parent company Proton will not prop it up ad infinitum.

    I’m led through reception and onto a conference room, where I’m introduced to Nick Adams, the vehicle development manager, and Malcolm Powell, Lotus’ chief engineer for manufacturing projects. This pairing has been responsible for federalizing the Elise concept and preparing it for the U.S. market. To some extent, at least, the success or failure of the project rests on their shoulders.

    “The Elise was never conceived as a U.S. car,” explained Adams, “so we had to establish new objectives. These were to enhance the performance, while adding safety and comfort.” The most obvious problem facing the engineering team was the choice of engine. The Rover K-series used in the existing Elise is belt driven and would therefore be outlawed under 2006 U.S. emissions legislation. It’s also not sold in any capacity in the U.S., so parts and expertise would be difficult to source. Clearly an alternative had to be found.

    After the death of founder and lifeblood Colin Chapman, Toyota bought a 20% stake in Lotus. The shares were sold in 1986 but a good relationship was retained, and the strength of Toyota in the U.S. made it an obvious source for an alternative powerplant. The Lotus team focused its attention on the 1795ccc VVTL-i engine used in the flagship Celica coupe and the European Corolla. Developing 189 bhp at 7800 rpm and 133 lb-ft of torque at 6800 rpm, it promised to compliment the Elise’s track-inspired character. As a bonus, this engine also comes with Toyota’s excellent C64 six-speed gearbox, whereas the K-series car makes due with a notchy five-speeder.

    Powell explained the benefits: “Compared with the 118 bhp K-series car, the Toyota engine provides a 40% increase in power with a weight increase of just 14%.” This differential is doubly important given that Croft must also carry hefty safety and luxury equipment, which has not traditionally been part of the Elise armory. Twin airbags are a federal requirement and so is ABS, neither of which have featured on an Elise before. In addition, all U.S. cars will be fitted with electric windows, an alarm, central locking, air conditioning and part leather trim standard. A twin oil cooler system has also been introduced to cope with the hotter U.S. climate.

    To accommodate the changes, the fascia styling has been revised, and the structure is now injection molded to improve quality. Air vents and a centralized stereo, not to mention electric window switches, are a far cry from the simplicity of the standard Elise, and I expressed my concern that the car’s character has been diluted. “The original Elise was designed as a stripped-out track-day car,” explains Adams, “but the high-spec versions sold out the most. The Federal car is a step forward from the European car. It’s not woolly or detuned and we haven’t changes its character.” He claimed, for example, that the electric windows actually weigh less than the manual alternative.

    U.S. customers will also be able to tune their cars to taste. The base model will cost around $40,000, but Arnie Johnson, the CEO of Lotus Cars USA, reckons that the majority of customers will opt for the $1000 Touring pack. This comprises full leather, carpet, an insulated soft-top and additional sound-deadening material. A clip-on hardtop is also on offer for $1,500. At the other end of the spectrum is the Sports pack. This features forged alloys fitted with track- biased Yokohama A048 tires and sport suspension. The latter reduces the gyroscopic loading and allows track-day enthusiasts to alter the spring height for circuit use.

    So much for the theory – few things in life are more frustrating than sitting in a conference center at Hethel while the company’s products await outside. I had been promised an exclusive drive in a Federal prototype, and word reached us that the car was ready. The test car mechanically complete, except that it was running on European-spec Bridgestone Potenzas rather than the bespoke Yoko AD07s that are currently being developed for the U.S. market. The interior, though, was a hybrid of the European and U.S. parts and bore the scars that characterize any hard-working, hand-built prototype.

    Externally the Croft is identical to the European car with the exception of the modified lights and the twin rear exhaust pipes that emerge centrally from a modified diffuser. It remains a fine-looking car. While the original had cutesy retro appeal, the latest version has a more grown-up, contemporary feel. It’s not difficult to imagine it seducing the occupants of Ocean Drive, Miami Beach.

    Our test drive begins on the quiet country lanes that surround the Lotus factory. It’s on these roads that every car since the original Lotus Six of 1953 had been analyzed and refined. The scene is quintessentially English, but Adams is quick to point out that the car has also been tested in Phoenix and L.A. to ensure that it’s suited to U.S. conditions. The springs and dampers are different to those fitted to European models, but Lotus has worked hard to maintain the “feel” of the Elise.

    One of the marvels of the original was the ride quality. Its minor bump absorption and compliance was nothing short of extraordinary for such a focused car, but the Croft takes this to a new extreme. This car’s ride is much quieter than the European models, which adds to driver confidence. It deals with an undulating road surface brilliantly, which bodes well for America’s less than perfect blacktop. The steering, which is lightweight at the straight ahead, still jiggles a little, but it’s no longer necessary to make constant, corrective inputs.

    My perceptions about the engine are also being challenged. When fitted to the Celica, this engine feels disappointingly breathless and needs to be worked hard to deliver its best. The Croft is 419 lb heavier than a stripped out, base Elise, but it still weighs 25% less than the Celica. With less mass to haul around, the engine’s torque deficiencies cease to be a major concern, and what you notice most is the welcome improvement in refinement when compared to the Rover-engined car. The six-speed gearbox also swaps ratios with a more satisfying, mechanical clunk.

    I return to the factory to be presented with an empty test track and a permit to play. The prototype was on the standard suspension, but it would be ridiculous to describe it as too soft for circuit use. The Series II Elise is easier to drive hard than the original – which boasted hyperactive lift-off oversteer - but it still demands to be driven well. The correct gear ratio and considered inputs are crucial if correct progress is to be made.

    Its natural balance is neutral and power oversteer is almost impossible to achieve in the dry, but its stance can be adjusted on the throttle, and the skilled can tempt an Elise into a glorious four-wheel drift. Such tasks are made easier by the wonderful linearity of response that’s a feature of every great Lotus. The brakes are equally terrific. The ABS has been tuned to engage only in extremis, and its operation is much softer than that of a standard car. It’s fair to say that the system is an aid to enthusiastic driving rather than a necessary evil that detracts from the pedal feel, which is some achievement.

    The test track also draws the best out of the engine. The gear ratios have been well chosen so that it’s possible to keep the motor spinning on the higher cam between 6000 and the 8200-rpm redline. At these speeds, the engines four-cylinder thrum takes on a more strident, engaging beat, which suits the car’s character. It also produces performance that makes the European Elise feel pedestrian.

    Lotus claims 0 to 60 in 4.9 seconds for the Federal car, compared with 5.6 seconds for the standard 118-bhp Elise and 5.1 seconds for the 156-bhp 111S. By the time 100 mph arrives after 12.6 seconds, the Federal car is well ahead of the 111S, which takes 2 seconds longer to achieve the ton. Importantly, the U.S. car also feels much faster, which has much to do with the improved soundtrack, the slick gearchange and the high-revving nature of this engine. Lotus’s biggest problem may be convincing European and Japanese buyers that they still want to buy a car with a Rover powerplant.

    Convincing U.S. buyers to part with $40,000 for an Elise should prove to be less of a problem, at least in the short term. Johnson expects the Elise market to me similar to the MINI’s. In other words, it’s likely to be chosen by both the ultra-wealthy and by those who have scrimped and saved to buy the base model. The later are likely to be enthusiastic diehards who chose the Lotus as an only car. The U.S. version is massively more refined than the Series I and the quality is good, but the boot is still small, the roof is fiddly, and gaining access to the cabin with the hood up still requires considerable dexterity. Living with one on a daily basis will require commitment, and Johnson figures, “Most people will buy the Elise as a third car.”

    The CEO has 1,200 orders in the bank, and the first cars arrive this May. “The dealers will get a car each, and I want them to hold on to them for at least 90 days so people can have a chance to have a look. Some of our customers have had cars on order for 5 years,” he continued. The big test for Johnson and Lotus will be when the hardcore Lotus aficionados have their taste buds satiated. Will the brand then be able to attract enough customers out of their Porsche Boxsters and BMW Z4s and into the charismatic Brit?

    Only time will tell for certain, but there’s no doubt that the Elise is a different and convincing proposition. There’s a purity about its diving experience that even the seminal Porsche cannot match, and this, coupled with style, exclusivity and the enduring kudos of the Lotus badge, should ensure its long-term appeal. The Federal Elise has been a long time coming, but it’s been worth the wait. This is a genuine Lotus and a fabulous sports car.


    US Elise Testing
    US Elise undergoing testing US Elise Testing

    Road & Track
    Road & Track - November 2003

    US Elise News!

    First US Drive!
    From Chris Smith
    Date: Fri, 10 Oct 2003
    Prototype US Elise test drive

    In early Sept. on a visit to LCU, while talking with Arnie and Clyde. A car transporter pulled up with two Elises on it. One Aztec Bronze the other Starlight black. Then I noticed something different about these cars as we watched them unload. They had the twin tailpipes exiting from the diffuser. These were US prototype test cars! You guys can't imagine my excitement.

    As the cars were unloaded and gassed up I looked them over quite thoroughly. They were test mules of course so final edition may vary from these. Both cars were loaded with testing, diagnostic electronics. The black car had leather seats, and the bronze had fabric/leather. First thing I had to do was open the boot. Nestled nicely in there was the Yota motor with the "LOTUS PERFORMANCE" on the valve cover as pictured in Road and Track. The twin tailpipes looked really good, very understated but gave it that racer look. The build quality even of this test car was exc. the panels fit well and the seems well-aligned.

    Climbing into the car as with the 111S is not a real problem once you get the hang of it. We took the top off of course as it's the only way to experience this car!! Climbed in and looked around. I noticed immediately the windows were tighter with the electric units (UK owners of the manual wind windows felt the electric windows would be less prone to rattling)and a very satisfying "thunk" when the door is closed. The dashboard has been redesigned and this was obviously a prototype piece, but I liked the layout of the stereo and the vents, it had a very integrated feel to it. All controls were easily reachable from the driver's seat. I was pleased to see the steering wheel was compact, it appeared to be the same size as a 111S wheel even with airbag, this again was a prototype piece.

    Key on, the engine comes to life. A nice pleasant exhaust note at low revs. The gearbox felt very tight, with relatively short throws, it took a few times for me to get the 1 to 2 but after that no problems.(mostly my fault as it's been some months since driving a stick). Acceleration was wonderful. Not earthshattering like an Esprit but very quick and steady. The acceleration isn't as quick as my 2 liter caterham was (low 4 sec. car) but I'm quite sure 4.8 is attainable as stated in Road and Track. Of special note, many people were concerned by the flat spot or lump in the 6000 rpm range on the Toyota engine, I can tell you quite conclusively, THEIR IS NO FLAT SPOT, NO FLAT SPOT. Acceleration was linear and smooth all the way up to 7000 or so rpm (I didn't want to be too aggressive with this test car). The Lotus engineers did a great job on the ECU.

    I found the braking to be quite good and felt connected with the road. The car handled bumps, etc, with firmness but no rattling. I could detect no appreciable difference in the suspension of this car and a 111S, ie the quality and firmness of the ride was still there, this is no land yacht! Looking at the car I could see no change in the ride height from the 111S. I think the daily driver and occasional track day participant will be quite happy with the standard suspension.

    On returning to LCU, my ear-to-ear grin certainly told Arnie what I thought of this wonderful car.

    Spent a good 30 minutes driving the car around, it was a blast. Immediately upon return I took the 120 hp S2 out for comparison. Development of the Elise has been a progressive improvement in build quality and performance. I enjoyed the S1, Spor 190, S2, the 111S I've driven, this prototype Elise is the best one I've driven yet! I'm glad my deposit is already in place, I can't wait!!!! Many people have voiced concern about ruining the car to adapt to the US market, that hasn't happened, this car retains all the magic that is the Elise!

    Let me tell you guys, this car is worth the wait! This car is going to change perceptions and expectations here in the US of what a sportscar is supposed to be! Destined to be a landmark car.

    Do I sound excited, you bet I am. BTW, Please note this was a test prototype, some components may differ on the final car that we get.


    Elise On Track with an Elise 111S
    By Kiyoshi Hamai
    Okay, I did drive the standard S2 Elise last October at the WCLM. That drive was on the street from Laguna Seca to Carmel Valley. My impressions at the time were generally positive, but some reservations about the pedal heights and balance. In particular I felt the pressure needed for the brakes was on the high side and made heel-toe down shifts particularly awkward. So, it was I climbed into the 111S and took it out onto the 9 turns of PIR.

    Accelerating, I noted the engine to be noticeably smoother than the standard unit. The gearshift throws were the same, which is on the long side. I'd love to see a kit to shorten the throws. It would make for wrist shift and eliminate moving your arm. It would be faster and likely eliminate the vagueness.

    There's a long space between 2nd and 3rd and another between 3rd and 4th. If the ratios were a bit closer together I think the acceleration might be a bit brisker. Now, I was at the Festival curves, a sharp 90-degree right followed by a sharp 135 degree left and then a sweeping right and onto Turn One. The brakes were GREAT!!! Pedal pressure was perfect and easy to modulate. Totally different than what I remember from the drive in October.

    Coming into Turn 1 applied the brakes and trailed them into the corner. I expected some understeer, but the 111S tucked, slowed and leaned over onto left side and went around the corner. It was easy to guide into the apex of One, then let the car carry out to the outside of the track to set up for Turn 2.

    Getting into Turn 2 is tricky for a lot of cars because there's not enough time to fully straighten the car out to do straight line braking. It's a great test of the chassis because you have to brake while cornering. That means you have to give some of the cornering to be able to have some traction to slow. A lot of cars will get terribly unbalance when you try to do this. I've spun many a car in this maneuver or plowed way off line, ending way wide of the apex and compromising corner exit speed. Not so with the 111S. It stayed balanced! Hit the apex perfectly, accelerated out on line and off to Turn 3. Impressive!

    Turn 3 is a constant radius 180-degree left-hander with some minor camber changes that makes the entry harder than it looks. The Elise whipped around the corner perfectly balance, add power and it pushes every so slightly, drop power and the rear just hints at rotating. Turn 4 is a long right-hander with a late apex. It's important to set-up 4 so you can get on the power before you apex. Doing so pays off big time as you can flat foot it all the way through the exit of 4, then Turns 5 and 6 and onto the back straight.

    Next are Turns 7 and 8, a quick left-right, a brake tap and turn into 7. The Elise handles this beautifully, then brakes into 8 and left the car drift right out to the left edge and even use some of the track exit lane! Brake, again without any sort of "I wonder what the car will do…" and turn into Turn 9, the most important corner on the track as it leads onto the front straight. Late apex, let the Elise run right out to the outside edge and up against the wall.

    I found that I didn't need to go into 5th on the straights as I was getting up to about 5500-6000 rpm in 4th (about 100 mph) as I reached the brake points.

    Every corner brought new respect and a true realization that it's a driver's car. It responds to your input and is forgiving. It has a very high threshold, one that if used on the street would be much faster than might be considered safe. With more and softer tire, the car would be AMAZINGLY fast. It's no wonder Road & Track found the Elise to out handle every car in the comparison test last year.

    All too soon my laps were over. Others wanted rides, but I had my grin to wear back to hotel.



    Lotus Asks for US Exemptions

    Group Lotus Plc.; Receipt of Application for a Temporary Exemption From Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 108 and Part 581 Bumper Standard

    24 October 2003
    Federal Register 61035 - Vol. 68, No. 206

    (c) 2003 Federal Information & News Dispatch, Inc. All rights reserved

    In accordance with the procedures of 49 CFR part 555, Group Lotus Plc. ("Lotus" has applied for a Temporary Exemption from S7. Headlighting requirements, of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard ("FMVSS" No. 108, Lamps, reflective devices, and associated equipment; and Part 581 Bumper Standard. The basis of the application is that compliance would cause substantial economic hardship to a manufacturer that has tried in good faith to comply with the standard.

    We are publishing this notice of receipt of the application in accordance with the requirements of 49 U.S.C. 30113(b)(2), and have made no judgment on the merits of the application.

    I. Background
    Lotus, which was founded in 1955, produces small quantities of performance cars. In the past five years, Lotus has sold a total of 550 automobiles in the United States. The only current Lotus vehicle sold in the United States is Lotus Esprit ("Esprit". In the same time period, Lotus has manufactured a total of 18,888 vehicles worldwide, including Lotus Elise ("Elise").

    The Elise was introduced in 1996, but it was not originally designed or intended for the U.S. market. However, after deciding to terminate production of the Esprit by 1999, *1 petitioner sought to introduce the Elise in the United States. Significant management, ownership and financial hardship issues contributed to the delay in introducing the Elise model. Recently, Peruashan Otomobile Nasional Berhad ("Proton" has taken a 100% ownership of Lotus. Petitioner is now ready to introduce the Elise vehicle into the U.S. Market. A description of the Elise vehicle is set forth in the Exhibit 1 of the petition (Docket No. NHTSA-03-16341). For additional information on the vehicle, please go to http://www.LotusCars.com.

    *1 Espirit produciton was eventually extended by three years while petitioner sought to bring Elise into compliance with FMVSS. Espirit will cease production on 12/31/2003.

    II. Why Lotus Needs a Temporary Exemption
    Lotus has continued to experience substantial economic hardship, previously discussed by the agency in a March 3, 2003 Renewal of a Temporary Exemption from FMVSS No. 201 (68 FR 10066). *2 Lotus' latest financial submissions show the company's operating loss of [pound]43,228,000 ([ap] $69,000,000) for the fiscal year 2000; a loss [pound]18,055,000 ([ap] $29,000,000) for the fiscal year 2001; and a loss of [pound]2,377,000 ([ap] $4,000,000) for its fiscal year 2002. This represents a cumulative loss for a period of 3 years of [pound]63,660,000 ([ap] $102,000,000). *3

    *2 We note that the Elise vehicle is FMVSS No. 201 compliant.
    *3 All dollar values are based on an exchange rate of [pound]1= $1.60.

    According to the petitioner, the cost of making the Elise compliant with the headlighting requirements of FMVSS 108 and the bumper standard is beyond the company's current capabilities. Petitioner contends that developing and building FMVSS-compliant headlamps and Part 581-compliant bumpers cannot be done without redesigning the entire body structure of the Elise. Specifically, developing Part 581-compliant bumpers would cost $6 million dollars over a period of 2 years. Producing an actual FMVSS-compliant headlamp would cost approximately $1.1 million. In addition, there are unspecified costs of body modifications in order to accommodate the new headlamp, because there is insufficient space in the current body structure to permit an FMVSS-compliant headlamp.

    Lotus requests a three-year exemption in order to concurrently develop compliant bumpers and headlamps and make necessary adjustments to the current body structure. Petitioner anticipates the funding necessary for these compliance efforts will come from immediate sales of Elise vehicles in the United States.

    III. Why Compliance Would Cause Substantial Economic Hardship and How Lotus Has Tried in Good Faith To Comply With Standard No. 108 and the Bumper Standard
    Petitioner contends that Lotus cannot return to profitability unless it receives the temporary exemption. In support of their contention, Lotus prepared alternative forecasts for the next 3 fiscal years. The first forecast assumes that the petitioner receives exemptions from S7 of FMVSS No. 108 and the bumper standard. The second forecast assumes the exemptions are denied. *4 In the event of denial, Lotus anticipates extensive losses through the fiscal year 2006, because it cannot bring the Elise into full compliance any earlier.

    *4 See Petition Exhibit 2 (Docket No. NHTSA-03-16341).m
    Fiscal Year Forecast if Forecast if exemptions exemptions granted denied:

  • 2003 [ap] $975,000 [ap]- $1,700,000
  • 2004 [ap] $12,520,000 [ap]- $15,402,000
  • 2005 [ap] $11,749,000 [ap]- $22,718,000
  • According to the petition, Lotus expended substantial resources (approximately $27,000,000) in the past 12 months in order to bring Elise into compliance with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and other U.S. regulations. Specifically, Lotus invested approximately $5,000,000 in order to obtain a suitable engine supplier capable of complying with U.S. emissions standards. Next, Lotus developed an FMVSS 208 compliant air bag system. Significant resources are currently being expended in order to bring Elise in compliance with all other Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, including FMVSSs 208, 210, 212, 214, 219 and 301.

    As previously discussed, the Elise was not designed for the U.S. market and does not have a conventional bumper system or the underlying bumper structure. Instead, it was designed with "clam shell" body parts. According to the petitioner, installing a compliant bumper system would require re-designing the entire body of the automobile.

    Petitioner considered equipping the Elise with an "interim headlamp" that would comply with FMVSS No. 108. This headlamp would not feature a polycarbonate cover currently on the vehicle, and would have been assembled from "off-the-shelf" parts. However, the development of this "interim headlamp" would cost $500,000. Because Lotus anticipates introducing an all- new, fully compliant Elise in 2006, the projected number of vehicles sold until the introduction of the new 2006 model could not justify this investment.

    Petitioner contends that installation of "an interim headlamp" without a polycarbonate cover would also significantly decrease forecasted sales because aesthetic appearance of the automobile would be compromised. Lotus marketing research forecasted a sales decline of as much as 30%. Further, the absence of the polycarbonate cover would have a negative effect on vehicle aerodynamics, and would decrease fuel economy. Finally, Lotus indicated that installation of "interim headlamps" could result in U.S. customers purchasing aftermarket or "European-spec" headlamps and installing these headlamps on their vehicles.

    As previously stated, Lotus plans to introduce the second generation Elise in late 2006. This vehicle will feature compliant headlamps, bumpers and advanced air bags.

    IV. Why an Exemption Would Be in the Public Interest and Consistent With the Objectives of Motor Vehicle Safety
    Petitioner put forth several arguments in favor of a finding that the requested exemption is consistent with the public interest and the objectives of the Safety Act. Specifically:

    1. Petitioner notes that the current Elise headlamp does not pose a safety risk because the headlamp's photometrics are very close to the requirements of FMVSS 108. The headlamp has also been subjected to environmental testing, and has a good warranty record.

    2. Petitioner argues that the clamshell body system utilized by the Elise vehicle acts to reduce low-speed damage even in the absence of conventional bumpers. In a situation involving greater damage, the cost of an entire fiberglass clamshell is comparable to bumper-related repair costs of other "high-end" vehicles.

    3. Petitioner suggests that denial of the petition would prevent Lotus from introducing the Elise for a period of three years and would in fact cause Lotus to seize U.S. operations. This would in turn result in loss of jobs by Lotus employees in the U.S. *5

    *5 In the event the petition is granted, Lotus anticipates hiring more employees and expanding its dealer network.

    4. With respect to consumers, petitioner argues that denial of the petition would limit consumer choices by eliminating Lotus from the marketplace. Lotus contends that its continued presence in the U.S. is needed in order to provide parts and service for the existing Lotus Esprit customers.

    5. Lotus remarks that due to the nature of the Elise vehicle, it will, in all likelihood, be utilized infrequently as a "second" or a recreational vehicle.

    6. Finally, Lotus notes that the Elise does comply with all other Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, and features above-average fuel economy.

    V. How You May Comment on Lotus's Application

    Instructions: All submissions must include the agency name and docket number or Regulatory Identification Number (RIN) for this rulemaking. Note that all comments received will be posted without change to http://dms.dot.gov, including any personal information provided.

    Comment closing date: November 24, 2003.
    Issued on: October 20, 2003.



    Exige S2

    NEW Lotus Exige Announced
    New Exige to Change the Rules
    Hethel, UK
    8th September 2003
    Not since the arrival of the Elise has any car made such an impact. Now, as the current Elise improved on the original icon, so the Exige is to perform the same feat. The new Lotus Exige bears all the hallmarks of a true racer. Large air intakes and front splitter dominate the cars aggressive front stance. Sweeping lines and extended air scoops lead into the commanding rear haunches and spoiler, proudly displaying the cars racing intent.

    With Lotus Design working in conjunction with Lotus engineering and aerodynamic teams to achieve an optimum driving experience, the Exige performs as dynamically as it looks. Powered by a 1.8 litre 4 cylinder 16 valve engine with VVTL-i variable valve technology and mated to a close ratio six-speed manual gearbox, the Exige will sweep effortlessly past 60mph in under 5 seconds whilst breaking the 140mph mark with ease. With an output of 190bhp, the Toyota Motor Corporation manufactured engine is perfectly suited to the Exige, revving to around 8350rpm.

    As with any Lotus, perfect dynamics are key to the product. Tuned by Lotus’ world famous Ride and Handling team, every conceivable component, such as suspension, wheels and tyres have been developed to provide the ultimate performance both on and off the track.

    The Exige will be unveiled at the 2004 Geneva Motorshow for the UK, Europe and Asia-Pacific markets. Details of specifications and price will be announced closer to this unveiling date.

    The K-Series engine will continue to be used within the Elise range for the foreseeable future.