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What do you want from a Lotus?


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make me smile each and everytime i open the garage

put an even bigger smile on my face each and everytime i drive

a car that kids of all ages give you a thumbs up when you drive past

when the driver of the car in front tells his/her passengers look at the car and passengers turn to look, wave and give you the thumbs up

a car that the local kids always ride (on their push bikes) over to/run over to ask how fast is that/like your car MISTA

the old guy opposite states still buying British then

the young couple next door state wish we could afford one

my dad asks everytime we buy a lotus supose you considered the german equivalent??

I'm too old to be boverd about how fast it goes, but it needs to accelerate very well, handle exceptionally so that when we go to a track I think Im fast and feel like an F1 driver

Darryl & Sue

Proud to drive and own a true British supercar the Evora GT430

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Tough call, most Lotus nuts know what it's all about, handling, lightness, an engaging drive and I hope Lotus never lose sight of that. What I want for the future is proper build quality, not close enough is good enough... despite the fact it's been good for me the past 12 years! If Lotus want to survive they've got to compete on all levels, not just the area they excel in at the moment.

I'd like to see them continue to produce affordable cars too, the idea of an out of reach supercar is fine, but useless if you don't have the £150k kicking around.

Finally keep sight of their heritage, it's something other manufacturers dream about so make the most of it.

Currently having an illicit affair with another marque, be back in the fold one day... B-)

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  • 4 weeks later...

I’ve been sitting on a more honest answer to Bibs’ question that started this thread, although my answer is more about the company overall than the cars specifically, but I've finally decided to divest myself of the negative vibes I’ve bottled up regarding what my Lotus purchasing experience has shown to be a colossal flaw/letdown/drag--whatever you want to call it--in terms of PR and customer engagement, in the hopes that it will prompt those who divvy out the wonga for such things to put it towards better use, so here goes:

First, I’m specifically excluding my dealer from this criticism. The problem isn’t my dealer, who’s great, but with Group Lotus and Lotus USA. In fact, my impression is that my dealer has suffered from the same problem I have, i.e., lack of information and/or accurate information. I also think the problem (lack of customer engagement) has less to do with any individuals than with Lotus lacking a formalized process/procedure and infrastructure for engaging customers, from deposit to delivery. On that front, Lotus sucks. They suck so hard, in fact, that it’s almost a complete void since there’s effectively zero communication. Case study:

I ordered my Evora S in mid-September 2011. I was in the room when Lotus USA quoted my dealer a delivery date of December 2011. Not even my dealer was buying that, and said, “Realistically, that means January.”

January came and went. No car, no news, no information, no nothing. Instead of reaching out to customers like me (an email? a postcard? smoke signals? anything?) to let me know they were having production problems with the newly designed interior (which I would have been sympathetic to in the name of continuous improvement), I had to go digging to find out what the holdup was. Then more time passed. Still no news/information.

So I asked the dealer to get in touch with Hethel or Lotus USA for information. Here’s what I got:

“Your car is due off the line the week of February 29th. I [the dealer] can’t give you a specific day.” As well as this, in spreadsheet form…

Build #: S51811

Entry Date: 11/19/2011

Customer Name/Number: Matthew Delange - X07842

Model Spec: EVORA S 2+2 - T - P - S

Year: MY12

VIN: SCCLMDSU9CHA10459

Week of Year for Production: 9

Fair enough on the specific day. I never expected to know it given the complexities and variables of building bespoke cars. But that’s not the point. Communication and engagement is the point. Onward…

Week 9 came and went. Again, no news, no information, no nothing. So I asked my dealer for info again. To make a long story short, there simply was no reliable information to be had from Hethel or Duluth.

This is when I became officially pissed off and seriously considered canceling my order and getting my refund back, which Bibs convinced me not to do.

Another irritating aspect to this is that one doesn’t buy an Evora for rational reasons. No one needs and Evora (or any Lotus--see here), so there’s a fair amount of emotional investment tied up in ordering one. So to be left absolutely clueless as to the status of your vaporware Evora--to the point where it becomes the butt of jokes in front of dozens of other Lotus enthusiasts, e.g., “So Matt, when’s that Evora showing up [snicker, snicker]” is a hugely bad reflection on Lotus and frankly, more than a bit embarrassing and frustrating to the customer.

I even asked Kevin Smith personally at the New York Auto Show what the hell was going on with my car. He took my name, number, and email address...still haven’t received a response, and that’s 6 weeks and counting, which in my book is completely unacceptable. And he’s Lotus USA’s friggin’ PR guy! So where’s the PR in that? (Did I mention this whole experience has pissed me off to no end?) Well, at least now I know my car is finally on this continent and should hopefully be in my hands in a week or so, but to cut to the chase...

It’s been DB’s stated goal to go head to head with Porsche. I’m all for that, but if you want to compete with the big boys, then act like the big boys and stop all this fluffy nonsense. I get what Dany’s trying to do, and in the bigger picture support it and have told him so, but for the ridiculous amounts of money it cost to put on the soiree in Los Angeles and the absurd Swizz rollout in NYC, they could have paid a programmer to build a customer portal tied in to the production database in order to generate the same types of status updates to customers that BMW and Porsche do, ultimately fostering more customer engagement, loyalty, and sales. Instead, when they most needed to be communicating, they went in to shutdown mode, thus (I assure you) alienating more than just me, but many prospective Lotus buyers in the USA at least, many of whom took their deposits back, leading to lost sales and probably irretrievably alienating them, which of course leads to secondary effects when those people tell their friends that Lotus doesn’t communicate and can’t deliver. To me, this completely undermines any and all high-profile marketing stunts DB has orchestrated. Some basic communication and outreach probably would have significantly mitigated the situation. So screw these celebrities--engage your core clients instead.

Case in point, BMW. When I bought my 330xi in 2004, they even had a portal back then that tracked your car...

post-6978-0-39095600-1338232246.jpg

...and if you order a bespoke car it gets even better...

The company ships each customer a video of their particular car as it’s built—it’s the actual car in the video—so the process needed redesign consideration when “custom built” became an option offered to consumers.

Why would BMW go through all this trouble—especially when it doesn’t charge extra for a custom-built car? A few things come to mind, including better customer engagement and the creation of a unique and special “one of a kind” automobile that arguably enhances an image of status in the mind of the buyer. In addition, it doesn’t hurt that most buyers of a custom BMW end up spending more money to accessorize a car of their own.

Another case in point, Porsche…

Once you have placed a deposit, you will be invited to communicate directly with Porsche at every stage of your interaction through ‘Inside Track’, a website to which you will have private, personal access.

You can use Inside Track to provide feedback to Porsche during your Porsche purchase and ownership and we will use it to provide information that is relevant to your particular requirements.

Alternatively, if you want something from Porsche at any time, access to Inside Track enables you to ask for it directly.

The need to implement a portal like this is, to me, so blindingly obvious that I truly can’t fathom it’s absence in the context of all the other horseshit they’ve spent money on.

So enter Michael Och, Director of Operations, formerly of Porsche. I don’t know him, he doesn’t know me, but I’m a fan. I see him in the various documentaries and I’m impressed by his steely focus, team-attitude, and outward-facing focus. In fact, I’d like to see him running the company, supported by Lotus’s creative engineering group and a more grounded but creative marketing group, more hitched to the company’s core competencies. Even MJK agrees that the process needs to be marketing driven (I know because I asked him) but that doesn’t mean marketing should be running the company. The most fundamental thing Lotus does is make cars, so put a guy in charge who brings a higher standard to operations, and have marketing and engineering support him.

So what do I want from Lotus? Simple--engagement and for customers to be treated with the respect they deserve rather than as an afterthought, with the forethought being an absurd emphasis on wasteful and blingy marketing hype. Giving a company large sums of money for a luxury item simply shouldn’t be this much of a frustrating pain in the ass.

Here endeth the rant. Gonna head on over to Heath’s Authentic Green Cheese Tortilla Factory Family Restaurant of Greater Austin for some tone, taste, tenacity, tortillas, tacos, tostadas, and tequila.

1983 "Investor's Special Edition" Turbo Esprit (#43/50) | 2012 Evora S

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Matt,

Thanks for posting this. I had a similar experience when ordering my Elise 3 years ago. First promised in April / May (just as the passes open), got to me in September (a week or so before passes close and the car goes to it's winter sleep). No communication, no apologies etc. etc. My view at the time was that the dealer should have been the one chasing Lotus and giving me updates but Lotus weren't without fault.

My experience at Geneva suggested to me that not much has changed. Existing customers should be a firm's best advocates but instead I feel like I need to keep apologising for them. I'm not confident I'd order again new from Lotus, even though I love the product.

Yes, a nice portal would help but I think it's more fundamental than that. There needs to be a strong voice in Lotus championing the customer and looking at the experience at all points of interaction. Marketing should be playing this role but instead they seem to be more interested in making noise rather than making sure the details are right.

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I would've thought that would be a focus of a marketing type such as is the CEO of Lotus currently?

Word of mouth (positive or negative) will beat any glossy ad or music video. And word of mouth nowadays does not mean one guy talking to the next bloke in the pub with social media as it exists today.

All we know is that when they stop making this, we will be properly, properly sad.Jeremy Clarkson on the Esprit.

Opinions are like armpits. Everyone has them, some just stink more than others.

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Michael,

If you work in a marketing department for any time you'll realise that some marketers are mostly interested in doing the big, flashy stuff which gets noticed in the industry. The new breed (my view, being one) tend to use data and qualitative information to constantly refine the experience and understand what really is important to the customer.

Ultimately both have their place but IMHO you need the firm base before you do the flashy stuff (because you can be far more targeted).

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Andrew,

I agree with both your points--having a client ambassador (here's a pretty good case for that) -- who obviously should have a presence on TLF and blog at Lotus's website, perhaps even functioning similarly to the New York Times Public Editor--as well as a mix of a marketing campaign that relies on ruthless analytics and higher profile placement. But I think better ROI would be achieved by spending less on the LA event's catering than on Lotus USA's entire annual marketing budget or lavish NYC rollouts to which Swizz invited a convicted Federal felon (drugs and weapons--machine guns and silencers--yes, silencers, cuz we all need on of those, right?) to perform. Lotus needs to affiliate with that? That's good marketing?

I just think the emphasis since day 1 with DB has been so much on the bling that it's drifted far too off the mark, and, well, off the marque--too far afield of core competencies, identity, and existing customers, who will always be the best salesmen and brand ambassadors. Again, I agree with the general notion of elevating the brand, but take care of your tribe first, or at least show them some sign of engagement, before trying to sell cars to the stars. How do you do that when all marketing wonga is diverted to bling instead of a productive customer-focused infrastructure, or even a sufficient budget to get the cars in front of eyeballs that might otherwise buy a Porsche?

- Matt

1983 "Investor's Special Edition" Turbo Esprit (#43/50) | 2012 Evora S

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They need to clean house and start from scratch as marketing and PR skills have always eluded the folks at Lotus USA. That said, apparently Lotus USA has a fair degree of autonomy from Group Lotus so don't expect miracles. I just hope they figure it out over here before the new cars start to arrive and a new generation of buyers get the "not my problem" treatment from Lotus USA

Paddle Faster, I hear Banjos!
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To continue to make cars that reflect this design philosophy as expressed in the BBC article about Dany's suspension and in reference to the Exige S:

Taking it for a spin on the track, the car's pedigree becomes evident. It is an outstanding specimen of Lotus engineering, delivering performance that has earned it favourable comparisons with the almost twice-as-expensive Porsche GT3.
:B)
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Since I received my car I have yet to receive a single communication from Lotus. In the meantime several other manufacturers keep sending nice magazines, invites to events or even just email newsletters on a regular basis. I'm actually quite glad to not receiving the magazine which annoyed me terribly with it's trying-to-be-aspirational-and-lifestyle-but-actually-coming-across-as-a-bit-low-rent attitude.

I get this feeling that Lotus isn't really interested in my custom in the future. Maybe it's just decided that folks who order Elises couldn't afford a shiny new Esprit or Elite. If it has it certainly hasn't done it's research properly. I know several folk with a Lotus in their stables of much more expensive machinery.

As said, I love the product, and have a good opinion of the dealer who currently services my car. I didn't even mind Swizz but quality is measured by what you do, not what you say & their approach to managing the customer is simply not good enough and has got worse not better over the last few years.

The Drive Channel on YouTube posted a great programme about McLaren a week or so ago. There's lots about how they're building their brand that I can empathise with.

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Matt/Andrew - When you were asking your dealer for news on the car, what responses were you getting from them?

88 Esprit NA, 89 Esprit Turbo SE, Evora, Evora S, Evora IPS, Evora S IPS, Evora S IPS SR, Evora 400, Elise S1, Elise S1 111s, Evora GT410 Sport

Evora NA

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My guys were definitely trying to be helpful. When they first went digging for info, they got the tracking data I mentioned above with the VIN, etc., but they were fairly close-mouthed as to any specific reasons for holdups after that other than one broad comment regarding the 140+ upgrades and interior redesign, but without giving away anything specific, which I'm not even sure they were privy to. Ya know, being what they are--the middle men--trying to keep me informed without divulging any unsavory details regarding production problems, supply chain, cash flow, etc. Put another way, if they even knew the exact nature of the holdups they weren't telling me all the details, but instead giving me a broader explanation. Bottom line is they don't have a system where they (or better yet *I*) can simply log in and say something like "your car's in the trim shop and expected to come off the line ____ with a delivery date of ____", like in the BMW screen grab above. Another example might be right now. My car supposedly arrived at Port Baltimore last Friday, but my dealer can't directly track it or tell me exactly when it'll arrive here. Everything seems to have to run through Lotus USA or Hethel by email or phone call, which I'm sure is a pain in the ass to all concerned since they probably have other things to do. Anyway, why do you ask?

1983 "Investor's Special Edition" Turbo Esprit (#43/50) | 2012 Evora S

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With a sales and marketing background I've been involved in my fair share of market research and customer focus groups, but as I've got older (wiser?) I do wonder if any of it was worthwhile, particularly when it related to product development. I've recently come across an interesting quote from Henry Ford -

'If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.'

And Steve Jobs was dismissive of customer focus groups. It was Apple's job to come up with something customers didn't even know they needed and then convince them they did. Its an approach that seems to have worked for Apple over the past few years.

I guess what I am saying is that Lotus needs to come up with something innovative and unique, something that is perhaps unexpected, has that 'wow' factor and is compelling enough to get me to part with a big chunk of my hard earned cash rather than give it some other sports car or even buy a conservatory!

Forget all the guff about quality, on time delivery, efficiency etc etc. That just gets Lotus to the table and should be a given, allowing them to compete (I accept they have some work to do to even get into the game) but its that final 10% that will get my money. Personally, the new Esprit does it for me.

Just a word on Lotus PR - personally I have absolutely no complaints. I get a stream of emails from my local dealer, he attends most of our owner monthly meetings and welcomes us into the showroom for a good natter. And I get regular emails from Lotus as well, as well as the posh magazine (which I know divides opinion). And I haven't bought anything new from him as yet (although 8 years of Esprit V8 servicing is a fair wedge of cash :huh:)

Maybe that's when the trouble will start eh Matt :unsure:

Edited by hedgerley
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Maybe that's when the trouble will start eh Matt

For your sake I hope not! But I've refined my answer to this thread's question. What would I like from a Lotus?...I'd like a Lotus, thank you very much. Waiting for it to get from the port to my dealer and me is driving me nuts. And if my son asks me one more time if it's here yet, I'm either going to disown him or mug ten thousand old ladies in order to buy the company and then put him in charge.

1983 "Investor's Special Edition" Turbo Esprit (#43/50) | 2012 Evora S

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I want the spirit back, the marque had in the 70s when the Esprit came out

Exotic, rare and potent.

Combine that with a superb build quality aka Audi and you got a winner again.

No more Go Karts !! :scooter:

Mind if I cut in ?

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