News : Elise to become a Caterham in 2012?

Chris Sawyer

Lotus Elise - are we about to see a RenaultSport powered Caterham Elise?
Lotus Elise - are we about to see a Renaultsport powered Caterham Elise?

Our sources tell us that a team of engineers, many ex-Lotus, are beavering away in the Hethel Engineering Centre. Word has it they are working on an Elise chassis powered by a Renaultsport engine/transmission, and that the car will launch under the Caterham banner next year. Whether the car will carry the Elise name is unknown.

Rumour suggests the Renaultsport-powered Caterham could launch under a new name and with unique bodywork. This sharing of assets would allow Group Lotus to move forward with its larger, upscale Elise project, while effectively turning over the old car to Tony Fernandes and the boys at Caterham. Expect to see the Team Lotus name ‘sold’ to Group Lotus as payment for this deal.

Those close to the situation strongly suggest that, although this is a prelude to even greater cooperation between the two companies, it isn’t the end of the battle between Tony Fernandes and Dany Bahar. Some even suggest the move makes it more likely that Fernandes will eventually take control of Lotus and run Caterham and Group Lotus as complimentary companies on the road and in Formula 1 once Bahar leaves.

Fernandes would scoop up a revamped Lotus for pennies on the dollar. Proton and the Malaysian Government would be able to preserve their honour by turning control of the UK sports car maker over to a man who is a considered a national treasure in his home country.

We will keep an eye on this story as it progresses.

[Chris Sawyer is the creator of the Virtual Driver website]

Is Caterham about to become the new Lotus
Is Caterham about to become the new Lotus
Keith Adams


  1. As far as I know and think: Caterham is much much smarter than Lotus. I think Lotus has lost the plot with it’s heavy new cars. It takes a lot of investment to build 4 or 5 new cars, and also develop engines for them.
    Caterham can now build the Seven and an Elise-like car.
    Lotus on the other hand will have trouble surviving the next few years…

  2. I worry that Tony Fernandes may be spreading himself a bit thin.
    His airlines (Air Asia, Air Asia X and the tie up with Malaysian)
    The Lotus F1 team
    All of which eat up time, and can potentially eat up money…

  3. Danny Bahar I think has blown his bolt with the new plan. All of the new cars are trying to take Lotus up market at a time when the world is slowing down. I think proton and the malaysian government will get shot of him sooner rather than later, and in doing so it will leave a gaping big hole which Tony will try and slip into.

  4. I may be wroing but I think that the Elise is a very expensive car to manufacture and assemble, so it’s appeal as a back-to-basics car is somewhat reduced.

  5. Proton / Malaysian govt wont touch fernandes with a barge pole. Funny how, to get his car company going, fernandes needs to use the Hethel Engineering Centre, making him a tenant of Lotus. LOL

  6. I dont think Bahar has blown his bolt. Its a good strategy, just needs to be executed right. It’s only realy 1.5 new models – a new Esprit and a revamped Evora as a 911 competitor.

    There is no future building 2000 cheap elises a year at barely break even, with bought in engines. The Elise today is the equivalent of the Lotus 7 before Chapman sold it to Caterham, its just history repeating itself.

    The top of the market is booming – it’s just being driven out of the far east not europe. Here in the UK we have Bentley, Rolls, Aston, MacLaren. There is room for another.

    The deal will be Caterham gets Elise, Lotus gets its F1 name back, everyone wins.

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