Apologies, this is my first visit for ages (sorry, Bibs) - it's been a traumatic year.
Where to start with the recent travails of Lotus?
Is it the usual cyclical Lotus "crisis every 5 years or so", or is it more fundamental than that?
For what my opinions are worth:
1) Moxie (on about page 5 of this thread) was spot on: Bahar was a talented marketing guy (by all accounts he did great things at Ferrai and Red Bull in that role) BUT not the right guy/calibre for CEO - should have been appointed as CMO of Group Lotus under a tough CEO or Executive Chairman (if you're going to chuck monay at that sort of role, persuade Bob Lutz to come aboard in the role, not in some woolly advisory board role (that's not fish or foul - no company on any continent really knows what an adviosry board is)); having said appoint him as CMO, get some aggressive people under him - Naomi Campbell is, to many people, damaged goods after the "blood diamonds" trial (and let's not forget, that was a war crimes trial, which is never good PR), Brian May, guitar legend though he is, will evoke the response of Who the f%$k is he with most of Lotus' target audience (how long ago were Queen in the charts?), likewise Swizz Beatz ... get some people in who understand the product, the demographic and the wherewithal to crack on and get stuff done - think Esprit in Bond movies, Esprit in Pretty Woman, Esprit in Basic Instinct, Esprit in pop videos....;
2) I'm a bit concerned about the early posts going into microscopic detail on the powertrain for the new Esprit....and none about the looks! The concept launched in Paris was, to my eyes, unimaginiative and derivative; very "me too" - it simply showed where Lotus had been on a hiring spree, and at a stroke discarded a design language which Lotus had developed over decades, and which at least had some distinctive design cues; the original Esprit was breathtaking in its time, and to my eye the Peter Stevens redesign still cuts it as a "wow, what is that?!" design when you see one in the flesh;
3) Lotus much launch a new Esprit, whether that is with the bespoke platform/powertrain of the Bahar plan or as a SERIOUS development of the Evora platform - the Elise platorm has been stretched as far as it can with any credibility - Lotus needs to get away from the "Emperor's New Clothes" gags which follow its special editions;
4) I don't know what the ins and outs are with the F1 team, but Lotus F1 are doing bloody well (all things considered) in the F1 World Championship - for god's sake make some PR/marketing mileage out of it! Someone has paid a lot of money to be knocking on Ferrari's door in the constructors' championship - for f&"k's sake cash in on it!!!!
5) Following on from the above, for the foreseeable future, Evora is the flagship model - accept this and capitalise on it - it is, in MY2012 form, a fantastic car - make some noise about that!! - read and regurgitate the reviews! Let's see more proactivity on the PR/martketing (and I accept they are subtly different disciplines)
6) Elise must survive. It's a truism that you have an entry level hook for the younger single guy to engage him with the more aspirational, "family friendly" models in the range, so that when the flock flies the nest, he buys the 2 seat halo model as a reward to himself and his other half. Hell, it's how Lotus got me (together with growing up in the 70s and 80s when Team Lotus were stillwinning stuff) - I have had Elise S1, Europa S and now Evora S and loved them all...
7) Continue with the GT race programme, but focus on which series will get factory support - GT racing is rapidly growing in profile and credibility - decide which series to concentrate on in terms of profile/coverage - new Esprit v McLaren MP4/Mercedes SLS et al? - those series are getting more and more TV and magazine coverage, and having been to some events there is a definite appetite among the people who have paid through the nose for a ticket a) for a silhouette that looks like what they can aspire to in the showroom and b) the open paddocks they have at GT races;
8) (penultimate point, I promise) Where DB was spot on was in exploiting (ugly word, I know, but let's be realistic about the commercial necessities of the world we live in) Lotus' heritage. At my last job I was known as a sports nut and on the first day of the Olympics posed the question of which is the only car maker to have won F1, Indy, World Rally, Le Mans...and an Olympic gold medal. I have a subscription to Autosport, and am pleasantly surprised by the number of race previews for the current championship in which "Lotus" features among the top 4 or 5 winning manufacturers. Lotus has a history of achievement, a heritage, which frankly other manufacturers would have wet dreams about and cannot compete with (BMW of a few years ago "the ultimate driving machine" - do me a favour!). For god's sake Lotus - you may not have much cold hard cash in the banks, but in terms of PR collateral you can take to those banks, you have assets other manufacturers would kill for - cash in on it!
9) Last point - honest! Given the current uncertainty around the longer term, sorry but there is no alternative but to push current product - Elise, Exige V6 (for god's sake the development cost is all but incurred now anyway, so finish it off and start selling it to bank some cash) and Evora/Evora S - I am lucky enough to drive a MY2012 Evora S and it's superb - Lotus Just need to dpread the message, and Swizz Beatz is not the right messenger - it needs to be someone potential Evira buyers have heard of, and that's more likely to be Coldplay or a mainstream, current, movie star (see Basic Instinct above....)
I have no doubt that, in the words of Richard Burton in Jeff Wayne's "War of the Worlds" "minds immeasurably superior to our own" have no doubt already considered my opinions above, but on the off chance they haven't, I throw them into the mix....