The Emira’s world tour continues, and throughout January the last petrol-powered sports car from Lotus has been drawing crowds at the Tokyo Auto Salon and in locations around Japan. Justin Gardiner, Brand Manager at LCI, the country’s official importer of Lotus cars, takes up the story.
New Year is celebrated differently in Japan. Traditionally a time spent with family, most Japanese are glued to the TV on the last night of the year watching Kohaku Uta Gassen – a kind of Eurovision Song Contest but played as a team sport.
In recent years a new tradition has evolved, centred on an anonymous commercial parking area near Yokohama Bay. Daikoku is an artificial island built primarily as a dock, the commercial hub from which vehicles built by Nissan, Subaru and others are exported around the world. In the centre of the island is a parking area, accessed by a helter-skelter of roads from the highway bridges suspended high above the docks and surrounding sea. And it is in this artificial amphitheatre, miles from the nearest residential district, that hundreds of car and bike enthusiasts congregate each weekend. The biggest gatherings are regularly around New Year, always peaking on the morning of 3 January.
Lotus has a hugely loyal following in Japan, and is always well-represented at Daikoku. This year was no exception, with countless examples of the Elise, Exige, Evora on display, as well many heritage models. And there was only topic of conversation… “Who’s got tickets to see the Emira?”
LCI is Japan’s Lotus importer, and we had announced in December that the Emira would make its Asian debut at the Tokyo Auto Salon from 14 January. But there was a problem: Covid rules meant that ticket sales were restricted to just 125,000, far less than half of the 330,000 attendees in a normal year. Clearly some enthusiasts were going to be disappointed. However, for those who could get in, the Emira was undoubtedly a star of the show. There was huge interest in the car and the Lotus stand generally every single day of the show. The great news is that many orders were taken.
All was not lost for those who didn’t get show tickets. A carefully planned calendar of events throughout January meant there were other opportunities to see the Emira. A week after the big show debut the car was booked in to yet another of the city’s renowned centres of car culture – Daikanyama T-Site. Ostensibly a book shop just a kilometre from downtown Shibuya, T-Site has become a beacon for petrolheads for two simple reasons: it has a big car park and it stocks auto magazines and books from around the world. Needless to say, on the weekend the Emira was there, the car park and the road out front were jammed with one particular brand of vehicle – Lotus.
Throughout January, the LCI team has worked tirelessly to give Japan’s Lotus fans what they really wanted for Christmas – the chance to get up close and personal with the Emira. We’ve taken the car to numerous iconic spots around the Tokyo area, from Fuji Speedway to Ginza, from Tokyo Tower to Akihabara’s famed ‘electric town’. And at every location Lotus fans just materialised out of nowhere. At one site I met three of them, and they’d all already put deposits down. They were thrilled to see the car appear in front of them completely by chance, and within minutes were delighted all over again with their decision to buy one.
The Emira’s tour of Asia is just getting started. February is Hong Kong, then Thailand in March, and Malaysia and Singapore in April. May sees the car arrive in Australia and New Zealand for the first time. You can follow the Emira’s progress on the Lotus social media channels: